In honor of Lunar New Year, we're getting up close and personal with our founder, Jenny. We sat down and chatted about all things Lunar New Year. From her cherished traditions to those heartwarming memories that make this time of year unique. Dive into the full interview below and get a taste of the Lunar New Year through Jenny's eyes!
What were your fondest LNY memories growing up or favorite traditions?
Being around my entire extended family. I’m an only child and we immigrated to the states when i was 4, so it was a rare privilege to be surrounded by whole family. I’ve been on my own for the holiday since I was in college as our winter break never overlapped with Lunar New Year. Then covid happened…so this year i’m making it a priority to see my family as often as possible.
How will you be celebrating LNY this year?
Take out cash, walk down to Chinatown, pick up whatever catches my eye, and leave big tips of course. Bring it all home and invite friends over for a little feast and gathering for those who aren’t able to spend it with their families like me. Facetime the parents to see what they’re up to and say “hi” to my grandma (who has full head of white hair now).
Did you ever face any challenges feeling connected to your culture growing up in the US or going off to college and leaving family?
Definitely. Since I left China when I was just four, I struggled with my own identity. Too Chinese to be American too American to be Chinese (the age old story). Growing up around the US in increasingly caucasian neighborhoods, I wanted so desperately to erase everything that connected me to my Chinese heritage and be like everyone else. But I can say I’ve now fully embraced my culture and am so proud to be Chinese. It was a gradual change as i moved back to China for three years of highschool, then especially as I began to surround myself with more Asian friends in college (I joke that my chinese got better in college in New York,) starting Freja, moving to the city, and having the ability to choose who my friends were instead of defaulting to whoever was around me… I have reconnected with my culture in ways I never thought little Jenny would. I think this is something that develops naturally as you mature through life – you become more sure and confident in who you are and what your values are, instead of trying to assimilate or impress others.
What does it mean to you to be an AAPI-female founder?
As a female founder I both enjoy and make it a priority to hire women whenever I can, and proud to say 80% of our team is female. We also primarily work with Asian content creators and independent contractors – you’ve probably seen our ads featuring Amy and Tran, and our photoshoots directed by Ashley and Lisa :)
It’s really humbling to be part of such a tight knit supportive talented community. You give us the confidence to do what we do, and we hold ourselves to the highest standard to hopefully make you proud. Honestly seeing other people believe in the mission has given me the courage to keep forging on, knowing that we’re building something special, more than just a bag.
Favorite dish on the LNY table?
Nian Gao – best way I can describe it is a pan fried sticky rice cake. Imagine a crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside fried mochi. My favorite is the red bean filling, so nostalgic.
What is your Chinese Zodiac Sign and do you think you hold any of the attributes associated with it?
Rat! I’m quick witted, love to eat, and an absolute night owl <3
Wishing everyone a healthy and happy new year <3