Inspiring Women: Rana DiOrio

Inspiring Women: Rana DiOrio

Rana DiOrio


I am a mother to four kids who on most days feels like I can barely keep my house in order and kids clean, fed and dressed.  Women like Rana DiOrio, the founder of Little Pickle Press, fascinate me.  Did I mention that she has three young children of her own? Rana agreed to let me interview her over the phone to assist me in my quest of understanding her particular breed of überwoman.

The first indicator of her destiny to be successful is probably in the fact that from a very young age she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up.   She wanted to be a doctor, and though it may seem at first glance that she veered off her course, she would be the first to point out that despite detours along the way, she is on the path to doing exactly what she set out to do.  I asked her if she planned to go back to medical school, and she said no, but that she is now helping children in the way that she had always wanted to.  It turns out that the alternative route that she took ultimately made her uniquely suited to do the work that she does. When she was accepted to the Ivy League 7-year medical school she had applied to, around the same time the HMO came into existence, she did the math and recognized the long road to financial liquidity if she pursued medicine. Instead she went to law school where her investment in her education could pay off more rapidly.  She became a lawyer then an investment banker, and a real estate investor. Each career switch imparted various pieces of knowledge that she would ultimately put to use in forming Little Pickle Press.

Her first book What Does It Mean To Be Green? was written for her children.   It was Inspired by her own move from not very environmentally aware Rhode Island, where she grew up, to San Francisco in 1991 where she witnessed a different approach to the environment.  People in the Bay Area were already recycling, composting and eating locally sourced foods, all of which struck a chord with Rana.  She had already changed her way of living by the time she became a mom, so of course she was an environmentally conscientious mom. It was when she felt her children were old enough to begin to understand their relationship to the environment that she wrote the book What Does It Mean To Be Green? as a way to help explain it to them.  She wanted to give them the construct to comprehend sustainability, to write a book that served as a springboard for discussion of how to be green, so that they would not just do it because she told them to but because they understood why it was important.   It was a book that they read together and was intended just for them at that point.

When Barak Obama was elected President, her children were four and five years old, and there existed no context to help explain to them why this was such an amazing development.  She wrote What Does It Mean To Be Global? to  introduce to them the concept of diversity and accepting others with their differences. She wanted to plant the seed of the idea that we can only be successful within a community if we embrace diversity.  When Rana showed this book to friends, the feedback was so positive that she decided to see about getting it published.  Everyone agreed that her books were refreshing and distinctive.  Of course she knew the publisher could only be one with environmental integrity, but even the most progressive publishers print in China on virgin paper and still use dust jackets.  The Publishing industry as a whole she found was still entrenched in 20th century practices.  Rana saw an opportunity to build a 21st century publishing company.   There were a few elements she knew she wanted to include, the green publishing element was paramount. She sourced recycled paper, soy inks and made her books without dust jackets—superfluous paper that children inevitably remove and waste.  She also wanted to make sure to give back by donating a percentage of the revenue to a charity.  Having grown up with a brother who is a two time survivor of leukemia, Rana knows first hand how important support for the families and children with critical illness can be. Because of her experiences, 10 % of the revenue of her first three books is donated to Starlight Children’s Foundation .

I gave this one to my 13 year old!

Rana picked up the bible of the self-publishing industry The Well Fed Self-Publisher: How To Turn One Book Into A Full Time Living by Peter Bowerman.  Published in 2006, this book became the cornerstone of her research in forming Little Pickle Press.  At that point in time she could not have known that three years later she would be sitting on an experts panel with Peter Bowerman and have the opportunity to meet (and thank) him in person.

She has built a company that has become a certified B Corporation , a community of companies that strive to be the change they seek—environmentally friendly, humanitarian, and good to their employees. Little Pickle Press was recently honored as a Top Ten Best for the World B Corp with 10 employees or fewer.

Our discussion next turned to the power of women. Rana pointed out that she thinks women are gaining prominence in government and boardrooms because of the different way that they approach and solve problems.  Typically, women listen more than they talk and synthesize what they hear to devise strategies. Fewer egos tend to be involved and they know how to calibrate what they hear and observe to solve problems. Her advice to other women starting out is trust your instincts, listen to your inner voice, and rely upon your multifaceted skills and attributes.

This past week Little Pickle Press, won the Appy award in the Muticultural Media App category for “Being Global”.  The Appy Awards are the Oscars of the Digital world, and they pay tribute to the world’s finest and most exciting new apps in every imaginable category. The winners were announced Monday night in San Francisco,  competitor up against Little Pickle Press for the award was Disney’s “It’s a Small World” app.  Three years ago Rana DiOrio, who founded of Little Pickle Press did not know the first thing about the publishing world.   Since its inception in April of 2009 she has founded an Environmentally friendly publishing company, written and published numerous award winning children’s books, and has now successfully conquered the digital publishing world.  Meanwhile donating 10% of all book profits to charity.

The newest book in the What Does It Mean series

I fell in love with the books that Rana had written the moment I encountered them.  The messages they teach are all things I had been trying to impart to my own children for a long time,  finally I had found these comprehensible ways to help my kids understand important topics that can be tough to explain.  I loved the opportunity to find out more about the woman behind them in my interview with Rana DiOrio. I can not wait to watch Little Pickle Press Grow!


This month Little Pickle Press is offering the following Specials:


  • What Does It Mean To Be Green? is a FREE download in the iBookstore ( and in the Nook Bookstore ( during the month of March, and all of our other eBooks are discounted.
  • We are offering 25% off and FREE SHIPPING on any order that includes What Does It Mean To Be Green? on our website during the month of March. Just enter LPPGreen2012 to take advantage of the offer.
  • Check back in to on Monday for the chance to win all Four Little Pickle Press “What Does It Mean To Be…?” Titles Signed by the Author!



35 Responses

  1. Like you, I fell in love with Rana’s books at first sight. Even more importantly, so did my children! What I really admire is she really tries to walk the walk as best she can- she goes way beyond simple talk. Wonderful post about an inspirational woman- thank you!

    • I know! She is such a great mom in the way she approaches these issues with her kids! She truly does lead by example!

      • I can tell you first hand, having worked with Rana for over 5 years, that she is an absolutely wonderful, loving, caring mother, friend and all around good person. Her children are delightful, as a result of her example. She never ceases to inspire me.

  2. Wow- Rana is a true inspiration. Her business drive and ethic is commendable and now I am going to definitely buy these books to read to my daughters. I love her success story and it inspires us all when we read experiences like these. I love the entire concept of the “green” publishing company and she is doing a wonderful thing for the next generation behind us. Congrats to her success and this was a very well-written piece! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Thanks Jen, I love the way she couldn’t find a publishing company that would publish her books the way she wanted so she created it herself!! That is great woman power!

    • I read somewhere that one of the traits the most successful people have is to adapt their goals as they go along, she did just that, and in the end is still helping children in the way she set out to do.

  3. As a mama with self-publishing dreams, this interview is truly inspiring! Not only do I admire her starting an incredible company but her books cover such valuable and vital lessons for the next generation. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Thanks for reading! Rana really does show how far you can come in three years with hard work, research and dedication to what you want to achieve.

  4. Thank you for posting. Your interview painted a perfect picture of Rana DiOrio, inspirational and bright. Rana has an uncanny ability to combine intuition, heart, soul and mind in all that she creates. Each book is beautilfully written and illustrated. I can’t possibly have a favorite book that would be like having a favorite child! The books contain content that raise social awareness in the child; they provide a perfect platform for parents to engage in dialogue, and are perfect tools for teachers in the classroom. Rana DiOrio is an architect of change!

    • Thank you Melanie, I was concerned with doing justice in my post to such an amazing woman! So much to capture!

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  6. Thank you for this wonderful post! Rana is such an inspiration. Her passion for her company is unmatched. She truly puts her heart into everything she does and each hat she wears- whether she is being a mom or an entrepreneur.

  7. Rana’s books are truly inspirational, with relevant messages for children and the trusted adults in their lives as well. The company exemplifies her commitment to both a socially and environmentally strong ethic.

  8. These books look fantastic! I love well written books that also have important messages, and these are great. Looking into them now!! :)

  9. As one of Rana’s author’s, I second all of the praises mentioned in this post. It is a privilege to know her and be part of her team. ~Land

    • Land, Sofia’s Dream is another favorite Little Pickle Press book of mine, We own it and love it, and I love giving it as a gift!

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  11. Wow, Rana is so inspiring! Thanks for highlighting such a wonderful person, Elizabeth. I’m excited to check out her books. :) xoxo


  12. WOW… what an inspiration! I love reading about strong and determined and driven women, and Rana exemplifies this! Thank you so much for sharing and I like you have fallen in love with her books.

  13. Love this interview! I’m a total Rana fangirl and LOVE her books! I love teaching my kids about what it means to be present! How important!!! And love, love teaching my kids about being good global citizens!

  14. I am so honored, humbled, and grateful by this outpouring of support. I’ll say a couple of things in response. First, my path has been circuitous. For most, there is no straight line to where you ought to (or want to) be, so go with the flow. Second, I’m not afraid of taking risks or making mistakes. As a result, I have honed my instincts and charted fruitful routes for myself. If any of you order from our website (, please mention Documama, and I’ll be sure your books are autographed. Thanks for hosting, Documama!

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  16. Elizabeth, I think you captured the essence of Rana as well as anyone. I have worked with Rana the past few years and can attest to her brilliance, passion, compassion, work ethic, mission, etc.. It has been amazing watching Little Pickle Press skyrocket through the publishing industry, and it is no accident. Rana never settles to find a home with mediocrity. Her drive and determination is infectious, and I am grateful for her leadership. Terrific article!

    • Thank you Keith, I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and feel I did the evolution of LPP justice!