Anchovy Press—Winner of $14,100 During 2021 UP/Start Venture Competition

Rebecca Marimutu ’20 (Photographic & Electronic Media MFA) and Priyanka Kumar ’20 (Illustration Practice MFA) are co-founders of Anchovy Press, a finalist in the 2021 UP/Start Venture Competition

Rebecca Marimutu ’20 (Photographic & Electronic Media MFA) and Priyanka Kumar ’20 (Illustration Practice MFA)

For Rebecca Marimutu ’20 (Photographic & Electronic Media MFA) and Priyanka Kumar ’20 (Illustration Practice MFA), Anchovy Press is about building an independent publishing company based in Baltimore focused on storytelling that centers Black and Brown experiences. But it’s more than that. 

“The publishing industry is predominantly controlled by cis white women and men,” Marimutu said. “We’re looking to revolutionize the industry.”

From a demographic perspective, this means bringing books that share stories not normally told. But from an industry perspective, this means a different kind of business model, that includes books, subscription boxes with quarterly zines—short stories commissioned by artists of color—as well as interactive elements that tie into a video platform.

They’re creating an ecosystem, Marimutu said.

It’s not her first time through the UP/Start process. Nor is it Kumar’s. The two both applied for the annual entrepreneurial competition last year for separate ventures.

Kumar said her previous experience in UP/Start gave her “a starting point to prepare for this year’s competition.”

She said she and Marimutu have been dreaming about this idea for some time. Often, children’s books are cutesy, or educational, and almost never both. The two are breaking down that wall to bring diverse, fun and educational books to kids—books that kids of all backgrounds can see themselves in.

Named after the overlooked but abundant anchovy population in the planet’s oceans, Anchovy Press seeks to change the narrative at the earliest stage in which stories are told. They value the sensory experience that a gorgeously illustrated, thoughtfully printed children’s book offers. 

Winning funding would help launch this venture and allow it to move through the first two phases of the project—publishing their first book, and setting up subscription boxes, Marimutu said. 

But aside from the practical aspect of that first step of financial security, getting funding would show their venture—and these stories—have value.

“For me, as the person who’s handling the creative aspect of things, and now that I’ve been working on the prototypes… it would just be so rewarding to have the space to really think through everything that I have trained in in my professional career,” Kumar said.

It’s a chance to do meaningful work that resonates with so many people, she said.

“On a personal level, that would mean a lot to me,” Kumar added.