Entrepreneur/ WOC/ Feminist/ Fitness Enthusiast/ Curl Enthusiast/ Traveler
I am an immigrant born in Taiwan and raised between Taiwan and the Philippines until I moved to America around 2001. I am a woman of color, proudly stepping into the foray of tech & beauty entrepreneurship, and a self-declared curly-hair enthusiast. Currently, I am a Marketing Strategist at a boutique agency in Los Angeles specializing in scaling e-commerce start-ups.
As a woman of color and immigrant, beauty standards became a defining part of my identity. It came from visiting different cities and seeing how the perception of me dictated the way others would approach me. Someone will always be curious and ask “what are you” and then say something along the lines of “oh, I thought you were this because you look like that…” After several years, I realized it really doesn’t matter if you were born in the East or West, the ideal beauty standard was always the same: lighter skin and straighter hair.
Those casual comments about my hair and skin tone were always quick, but those seconds trickled down and formed a large pool of doubt where I ask myself constantly: “Why do I look like this?” Skin tone for me wasn’t as big of an issue, but my hair was much louder and more noticeable, even after immigrating here to the US.
I’ve always had textured, curly, 3a hair and there weren’t a lot of curly care products available, let alone specifically for Asian women. So naturally, I went through relaxers, blow-outs, re-bonding treatments, and other ways to spend a ton of cash for lackluster tresses. Eventually, I stopped going to the salon and spent years looking for alternatives via the world wide web.
I met my business partner in college and she had a similar issue, but specifically with color foundation. We bonded on the idea of spending countless hours looking for products, when it seemed like all that was available at Sephora, Ulta, or other retailers were geared toward lighter, straight-haired customers.
It took years, but we finally started finding products that worked and with the rise of social media, we were seeing a huge wave of beauty products made for POCs. We know we’re not the only ones with the problem, so we wanted to find a way to help others find products quickly and efficiently!
That’s why we decided to start Morena, an app dedicated to match POCs with beauty products that best fit their needs. We want to make it easier for people of color to find brands that are speaking to them, and encourage the idea that you define your beauty standards, and not the industry.
I consider myself to be a very ambitious, high-energied extrovert. I derive my strengths from people and keep my drive strong when I get the chance to learn from others. This has kept me engaged and effective during my day job at the marketing start up agency I currently work in, Optikal, and it’s definitely a strong driver for why I’ve decided to pursue entrepreneurship and invest in Morena.
In high school, I first had the idea of this woman I wanted to be. I don’t know where the thought first came about, but I kept thinking to myself, I want to be just like her: intelligent, beautiful, charismatic, well-traveled, successful af, and an all around athletic bada** that kills vampires and saves the world from ancient demons. I’m pretty sure the last part came from my obsessions with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Elektra, and Tomb Raider, but whatever, a girl can dream.
Anyways, the exact image changes a tiny bit from time to time, but she’s the kind of woman I’ve always dreamt of becoming. So, I ask myself everyday, is what I’m doing today helping me get closer to becoming her?
I’ve only just started letting myself take breaks from thinking about who the “future woman” of me is. This way, on days where all I do is sleep, scroll through Instagram for about 4 hours, down 6 beers, 2 burritos, and 3 slices of red velvet cake from Susie Cakes, I don’t have to beat myself up for it. (Just kidding on the foods…sort of.) Some days, you just need to be human and take care of yourself. Recharge so you can get right back up on the right track. Even realizing self-care is a point of growth for me.
The best advice I can think of for other POC’s is twofold. The first is to be self-aware. Define your needs, identity, and path. Once you get a solid picture of that, the next step is to surround yourself with the right people. The people you feel that contribute to your life in a positive way are the ones you want to keep. They hype you up on days when your nerves are high, they remind you how far you’ve come when you’re worrying about how much further you have to go, and they’re the ones that help lighten your shoulders when you’re feeling weighed down. It makes a world of difference when you reach out and you know there are those who see you as how you want to be seen.
I still have a long way to go, but I know my passion will always lie in helping others through entrepreneurial ventures. I want to create things with like-minded people, especially those passionate about bringing more inclusive representation to the forefront of any industry.
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