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Meet Domonique Shante of Livre Cafe in Northeast Atlanta/Dunwoody

Today we’d like to introduce you to Domonique Shante.

Domonique, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m the owner and literary curator for Livre Cafe, an online community dedicated to the global representation of women and men of color in literature and art.

I initially started Livre Cafe as a way to discuss books online with my friends. I used to post book reviews and book lists to my Instagram story, which would spark small conversation through Instagram messages, and grow gradually. From there, I decided to start a blog where I could have more in-depth discussions about literature, writers, and the lifestyles of the people who enjoy reading as much as I do. This blog came along with an Instagram page that allows me to interact daily with people who share my interest and appreciate the content I put out.

Although our meetups are based in Atlanta, there are people all around the world who interact with me regularly in the digital space. We keep in constant contact and learn so much from each other. When I started, I had no idea that there was a whole community waiting for me already. Thanks to this community, Livre Cafe has grown quickly and still continues to grow every single day.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Although it has been fun leading a community of bookworms, there have been a few noteworthy growing pains. Livre Cafe started in May of 2019 and grew at a rate I wasn’t prepared for. I’m still amazed that over 1400 people (not including personal friends and family) care about what I have to say about books today. I used to be the type of person that didn’t post to social media regularly or take time to build a schedule to email friends. I have had to learn to be very consistent on platforms that I’ve never associated with business. Now, there are people waiting monthly to see what books we will be reading next month, or what news I can share about new releases. Even though there was no urgency, I felt the pressure of delivering material online, being consistent, being the first in my community to read and review books, setting up exciting events and responding to everyone within 24 hours.

As a full time digital and creative marketer, I began with the knowledge needed to grow a business and engage a digital audience through experience, but I’m human. There are some times when I don’t feel like posting, or writing, or planning, or messaging. I’m a huge introvert at heart. There are also times when life has be extremely busy and I can’t keep up with my own reading goals. I had to learn how to apply the same systems I use in my work for consistency in marketing to the book club. I had to learn how to pace myself. Most importantly I had to realize the pressure I felt was self-inflicted. I had to learn how to ease up on my own expectations of myself.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Livre Cafe – what should we know?
Livre Cafe (meaning book cafe in French) is an online community dedicated to the global representation of people of color in literature and art. The community is based in Atlanta, but because interaction is primarily virtual, our community is worldwide. Not only do we work to encourage discussion around being a person of color in a world that typically excludes us, but we like to encourage discussion around different intersections in Blackness and the implications of those intersections.

Each month, we feature four books by people of color (typically Black and Latinx): One contemporary fiction, one classical fiction/ nonfiction, one contemporary nonfiction and one long-term read that is usually research-based and requires deep thought and discussion over a span of 6 months to a year.

The reason we include all four categories is (1) to ensure our audience isn’t limited based on interest and (2) to make sure people are being exposed to different types of books and are granted a well-rounded knowledge base.

Livre Cafe is most commonly known for its holistic approach to literature and aesthetics. The combination of the two provoke interest and create a welcoming environment, which allows members of the community to be more vulnerable with one another, and for that I am most proud.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My friends and family have been extremely supportive. They’re the reason I even have Livre Cafe. I was encouraged by my friend Ericka to start the blog and Instagram page. And when I decided to actually do it, I was shocked by the public encouragement from other friends and family. To this day, I still have friends who ask me for book recommendations and shout out the Livre Cafe online on a monthly (and sometimes weekly) basis. I have friends who constantly tell me I’m the reason why they started reading, or I’m the reason why they are reading Black literature. I can’t even begin to explain how much that means to me. (Lea, Joy, Nicole, Morgan, Gabby, Tristan, Kevonna, Khiry, Ma-Keeba, Christian, Evan, J’Channel, Imani, Jordan, Omo, Lydia, Ro, Destiny, Elise, Essence, among a slew of other newer friends kept me encouraged from day one).

I have friends who are always willing to step in and help if I need it, even when I’m afraid to ask. (Lea, Jordan, Morgan, and Gabby). These are my soldiers! Without them, a lot of things wouldn’t happen.

Lastly, but most importantly, my mother has been a huge encouragement to me as well. She always encouraged me to read, as she so often did. She continues to support my page and spread the word. She’s always been my number 1 cheerleader. I could never thank her enough. She is the first person I discuss books with, and the last person who I consult with when I need to know if I’m doing something wrong. Her opinion trumps everything. It’s a bonding hobby that I will always be thankful for.

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Image Credit:

CWoodwork Phototography

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