Lancaster County author aims to empower African American businesses through collaboration

After having her book rejected by publishers, one Lancaster County author decided to write the next chapter of her life and started her own publishing company.

LANCASTER, Pa. — It’s been one year since Diana Jules-Peene accomplished her lifetime goal of becoming a published author.

“The Little Brown Seed” was the first book published by DJPublishing, a company started by Jules-Peene after her work was rejected by several companies.

The book represents Jules-Peene’s experience growing up as a young African American woman, something she says is important for young readers to see on shelves.

“It’s not just a need but there’s a want for books like mine because I think it’s very important that inclusivity is in every bookstore, every library, and every school so it’s definitely important for my type of book to be out there,” Jules-Peene said.

She contacted makeup artist Khadijah Acosta to help get a reader’s attention at shows and conferences.

“She reached out to me for makeup for her cover of the book, so that’s how we connected and we’ve meeten up ever since,” said Khadijah Acosta, the owner of Shanl Beauty.

Jules-Peene’s second book, “Aaliyah’s Christmas,” was released several months later with the same idea in mind.

“I never saw a Christmas book that illustrated the Black American culture,” Jules-Peene said.

Over the past year, Jules-Peene has showcased her books to audiences of all ethnicities across the country.

During that time, Jules-Peene met other black authors like Amera Johnson, founder and CEO of Pathway to Prosperity.

“She was basically telling me about the books that she has, and I told her, ‘Oh wait I’m an author too, I have a few books,’ and we just hit off from there,” Johnson said.

Johnson writes her books for adults seeking financial independence. She works with more than 300 clients.

“There was a lack of publishing in her niche as well as a lack of financial literacy and just women empowerment in my niche so that’s how we connected,” Johnson added.

When Jules-Peene isn’t making rounds at events, you’ll likely find her at Nitah’s Hair Braiding in Lancaster.

“Every time I come into an African American business; I do feel grounded because we have a connectivity that only we experience,” Jules-Peene said.

It’s an experience shared by owner and cosmetologist Nitah Miba.

“That was my first time actually seeing a black writer in Lancaster because I never met one, so I was excited and happy for her,” Miba said.

Miba works at the salon with her family.

Peene says the salon helps her idealize themes to explore in her books while also supporting an African-American-owned business.

“Only two percent of the United States income goes to Black businesses. That’s really sad because then a lot of businesses fail. So, as a community, we need to support each other. We need to give each other advice. We need to say, ‘This is what you should do. This is what you’re doing wrong. How can I help you? Or ‘How can you help me?’” Jules-Peene said.

Acosta agrees.

“Working together empowers each other and it definitely helps because we share the same views, especially on entrepreneurship,” Acosta said.

“The Little Brown Seed” is available in stores and online. “Aaliayah’s Christmas” is available online.

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