We had the good fortune of connecting with Chelsea Lockhart and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chelsea, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I started my own business because I didn’t see what I wanted in the world. I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing, but as I became older and more self-aware, I realized just how many books didn’t have characters who looked like me. And if it did, it was either as a side character or it was story of pain, trauma, and struggle. I wanted more than that. I wanted to see myself represented in stories of magic and fantasy and romance — and not as a best friend, sidekick, or as someone who needed saving. I wanted multi-faceted Black girls who went on adventures, fell in love, and were allowed to be angry about more than the world mistreating them. So, instead of just being irritated I didn’t have those books, I focused that energy into creating my business — Written in Melanin Publishing. It’s a publishing house for Black authors so that we can tell our stories of love and magic without the worry of being gatekept by the world of traditional publishing or catering to the white gaze. I started my business so that we would have a place to tell our stories.
What should our readers know about your business?
Written in Melanin Publishing is one part of a much larger brand — Written in Melanin. While there is the publishing side where we publish books (like Across the Broken Tide by LaKase Cousino), there’s also the Melanin Chat (where we talk about being Black in the publishing world), the Melanin Library (an ever growing online database of books by Black authors), and Melanin Ink | The Bookish Magazine (a platform used to interview authors and share opinions on their works). All of these parts make up Written in Melanin as a whole and serve the purpose of sharing Black authors with the world. What sets Written in Melanin apart from other publishers is that we are about more than ourselves. Yes, we are authors ourselves and want to sell our works, but if our works aren’t to someone’s taste, we still want to help them find a book that is. The goal is to help support *all* Black authors. We recognize that changing the publishing world and filling this desire for true diverse books (genuine, authentic stories — not just books that check off a box of if a character is included or not) is not something we can accomplish by having selfish intentions. The biggest challenge with this was finding a place to start, and remaining consistent with all these platforms so that they continue to grow. I personally had to learn to pace myself because I want everything, but I can’t do everything at one time. So, that meant learning to prioritize things and respecting what I could and couldn’t do — as well as what I should and shouldn’t do. I had to learn that just because I had the skill to do something myself, didn’t mean I shouldn’t delegate the task to someone else. Time is the most value commodity you have as a business owner, and I had to learn to spend it wisely. I want the world to know that Written in Melanin is here to support Black authors, and we’re never going to stop doing that.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Okay, so all of these answers are assuming the pandemic never happened and it’s safe to eat in a restaurant without a mask. That being said, if we were going out to eat, one of my favorite places was Morton’s Steakhouse downtown, so definitely would go there if it was more of a fancy occasion. For more of a casual thing, maybe go to Masala Wok in Las Colinas for some pad thai, or The Green Gator at the Toyota Factory. If we were planning on having some adult drinks, would def visit Fossil Creek Liquor to stock up — the people there are just really nice. As far as places to visit, I’m a book nerd, so I’d probably visit a book store or two. Interabang Books or maybe Kinokuniya in North Dallas to pick up a few manga releases.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to give a shoutout to my husband. He believed in me, my talent, my dream, and what I wanted to do before I even believed in myself. I had a dream and things I wanted to accomplish, but he gave me the push I needed to take the risk to start something new. If it hadn’t been for him, Written in Melanin wouldn’t exist today. I also have to give a shoutout to my parents. They’re two of my biggest supporters and my mom was the person who gave me my love of books in the first place.
Website: https://WrittenInMelanin.com ; https://MelaninLibrary.com
Instagram: https://Instagram.com/WrittenNMelanin ; https://Instagram.com/Melanin_Library
Twitter: https://Twitter.com/WrittenNMelanin ; https://Twitter.com/Melanin_Library
Other: Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/adc74c54f8c9/getwritteninmelanin Patreon: https://Patreon.com/WrittenInMelanin