We had the good fortune of connecting with Arilia Winn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Arilia, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
W.E. Bookstore Online first started out in 2014 as an online stationery boutique where I sold the notebooks and journals I designed. It was initially called Rue Jean’s Stationery. Then in 2018, it was a part of Winn Publications – a hybrid book publisher and the name was changed to W.E. Bookstore. It wasn’t until September 2020 that W.E. Bookstore became a separate entity and started to gain traction and become what it is today: a bookseller who sources books from self-published authors, hybrid publishers and small book press. The beyond starting my own business boils down to this: I’m a Creative who enjoys art in the form of writing and designing and I love working with people in this field. Working with authors, publishers, and the book selling industry as a whole makes my heart full. My heart has always held a space for the small and indie community. Bottomline, W.E. Bookstore, all that it is and everything that W.E. do is my commitment to authors, artists, creators, makers and small businesses in action.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
W.E. Bookstore Online has core values and one of them is family. W.E. Bookstore is named after my grandfather. The W and the E are his initials. Valuing family means creating long term relationships and partnering with other likeminded business owners who too value family. It’s important that we know that being successful together not only impacts us, but it impacts our families and other families as well. Think generational wealth and making happy memories. And while many businesses value family, W.E. Bookstore is pretty unique.
At W.E. Bookstore we source our books from self-published authors, small book press, and hybrid publishers only. We don’t sell books from celebrity authors at all. Therefore, readers who cross our path are sure to meet an author they haven’t heard of before, but fall in love with after reading their book. With the popularity of self-publishing growing, there is little to no retail spaces available for this community. W.E. Bookstore Online is committed to standing in that gap for indie authors.
We are excited to announce our latest program, “Blind Date with a Book”. “Blind Date with a Book” gives readers the chance the pick their favorite genre, select their price range, and have W.E. Bookstore send them a book that W.E. think they will enjoy. We encourage readers to leave a review and tell us how their “date” went. We kicked this off at the end of October and are looking forward to the reviews to start coming in soon!
Some of the other fun things W.E. do as a bookstore is:
1. Host virtual author interviews – get to know the authors whose books we sell
2. Sell book merch for book addicts
3. Partners with vendors who support a cause and sell their items on our site
4. Sell mugs for other coffee/tea lovers
5. Operate online, but attends and hosts markets locally
W.E. really really really just want the world to know that W.E. exist and W.E. are a bookstore to know and get familiar with ASAP.
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.
My days are pretty spoken for, but my night life is pretty lit. One of my favorite spots is anywhere where The Outlet LA ( @theoutletla on IG) are hosting an upscale event. Every month they have something for the grown and sexy community that love Jazz and R&B. Many of the events are either during the week or the weekend AND they’ve been able to maintain a good amount of guests that come through each time. I have so much fun singing and dancing, I highly recommend it!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Yes! I want to give the Instagram community @W.E.Bookstore a huge shoutout. Oh my goodness! I know social media gets such a bad rep, but I’ve met some of the coolest authors, publishers and other small business owners on social media. People like my girlfriend in Texas, Jen @apeoplepartyproductions , who helped me and poured so much wisdom out when it came to launching a local market called the Sunshine Handmade Market that W.E. Bookstore put on every month from May to September this year. Because of this market, I met some other amazing women and co-owners at @sandiegomadefactory. These ladies guided me and helped me put on W.E. Bookstore’s best market yet in San Diego with a storytime for kids, live music, 30+ vendors, a food truck, a bar cart and over 100 guests in attendance. As a new business owner and a new event organizer this support from other women in business was phenomenal and much appreciated. Because of their help, more opportunities are the way for me!
Other: Keep up with W.E. Bookstore Online Events on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/we-bookstore-online-31892623489