Written By ASIAN AMERICAN GIRL CLUB - November 12 2019
Creative Visionary & Strategist
Photos by Chloe Camille
What makes you undefinable?
Pooja: My global citizenship makes me undefinable.
Your visual content aesthetic is stunning! How does your personal identity and cultural experiences shape how you create?
Thank you so much! And this is one of my favorite questions because I don't have a concrete answer yet! I describe my aesthetic on Instagram (@thelittletembo) as a romanticization of my life. I am on a forever journey of discovering the many layers of myself and my surroundings. I choose poses that make me feel strong, empowered and bold. I photograph in angles that are interesting to the eye because they allow for interpretation. I edit my photos with a focus on jewel tones because it reminds me of my favorite Indian garments, or vintage, bohemian effects that remind me of Mombasa architecture. My travels and cultural experiences encourage me to shoot content that will make people think... and dream. In short, I believe my content will change my corner of the world by showcasing an honest celebration of culture through global citizenship and multi-faceted creation and inspiration. It is a living document of the quote by Henry Miller: “To make living itself an art, that is the goal.”
When traveling, what kind of local nuances do you gravitate towards?
I gravitate toward art and craftsmanship stores everywhere I go. Ever since I was a young girl, I have been mesmerized by painters, street artists, wood-workers – you name it! I always like to visit local artist talent and support them by purchasing a piece or two, and sharing their story in however way I can. I also think artists have a unique way of telling the story of their homelands; I've heard the craziest stories from artists in Zimbabwe, Egypt, Oman and India that transformed my entire perspective of the countries.
As a self-proclaimed coffee dater, what makes a solid cup of coffee?
OAT MILK ;) But in all seriousness, I personally really enjoy learning people's coffee of choice. I think it's very telling of their personality. From straight black to all the syrups and frills. My go-to is an iced latte with oat milk and a dash of cinnamon.
Check out this voice note from Pooja on Scorpio SZN and ways you can better serve yourself!
Written By ASIAN AMERICAN GIRL CLUB - November 05 2019
CLE Cosmetics, Founder & Creative Director.
What makes you undefinable?
Lauren:I am undefinable because I am uniquely my own self and words cannot describe my tendencies nor my temperament.
You have such a diverse professional and academic background. What sparked your interest in creating a beauty brand?
CLE initially came to realization based on a creative journey of my interpretation of the ‘modern’ woman. When I was working on my MA final collection at The Royal College of Art, I was focused on two major concepts that ultimately conveyed the life of the ‘modern woman’.
The idea of self-love and the intimacy with one’s self.
Redefining what beauty is after that exchange in self-appreciation.
Naturally, the concept led me to realize that make up and skincare was a more suitable medium to convey those concepts and created CLE. Our first product, the Melting Lip Powder developed in order to use on eye, lips, & cheeks to cut down steps in a limited amount of time.
We LOVE that a lot of your products are multi-use; how did that concept come about?
I imagined the “modern” woman to have a very busy and tight schedule, which naturally causes less time to focus on beauty and applying makeup on a daily basis. It is about emphasizing one’s favorite feature(s) and what they already naturally have. The modern woman’s everyday look is quite subtle and does not need much to look great. I wanted to create products that were simple, yet had multiple functions that helped save time, like our Multi Cream. The cream can be used as a hand cream, but also can double as a face or hair moisturizer.
CLE is "guided by the belief that there’s truth in imperfection and freedom in fluidity;" can you elaborate on how that impacts your product design?
At CLE, we are strong believers of self-love and feeling beautiful for being yourself. And we all know, no one is perfect and that’s okay. Our products are not about masking the face, it is simply about bringing out the best in uniquely you! Our CCC Cream is about bringing the radiance in your skin and keeping it nice and healthy even though it is a makeup product by formulating the product with our CLE 7 ingredients. Our packaging is white with subtle debossing to represent a blank canvas. I wanted to encourage the women who buy and use our products to use our products as they see fit, whether they use our Melting Lip Powder as a blush or for their eyes, or even a fresh monochrome look, depending on their need.
Jenna: Staying true to what feels right for me at any point in time, allows me to keep growing and evolving, which means you'll never be able to define me for too long.
When did you know the entertainment industry was what you wanted to pursue?
I started in the industry when I was 3 modeling and doing commercials but it wasn’t until I was in my first Broadway show at the age of 9, that I fell in love with community that Broadway brings together and the real craft of Theatre. There is nothing in the world like the rush of performing on a Broadway stage in front of thousands of people. I continued to fall in love with singing, dancing and acting and was always performing in my bedroom when not on stage. When deciding what I wanted to study in college, i’ll never forget my high school theatre teacher and mentor saying, “if there’s anything else you can imagine yourself doing, do it” and when I realized there wasn’t, that’s when I decided to pursue it as an adult.
Your work in the adoptee community is incredible. Kindred: The Foundation for Adoption, is an American foundation you created with fellow adoptee Samantha Futerman. How did that come about?
Sam Futerman brought me on to Executive Produce her documentary, Twinsters, where she documented the reconnecting of her twin sister in her 20’s after being separated at birth and adopted to two families in two different countries, we had an outpouring of response from the Adoptee community. What we very quickly realized, was that there are so many organizations/non profits for aiding in the process of adoption but there was a real hole in world of support for adoptees. We decided to create Kindred to bring socio-emotional support and aid for adoptees and their unique and dynamic stories.
It is so cool that you were in "Waitress" on Broadway! Can you share a little bit about that adventure?
Yes, I had the absolute best time performing in Waitress. It had been quite a few years since I had done Broadway (7 years to be exact), so coming back to the New York stage in 2016 was a very special experience for me. I have been such a huge fan of Sara Bareilles’ music for years, so that made the experience even cooler. It was a bit of a whirlwind, I learned the show and had my first performance 10 days after I found out I got the gig. I have made lifelong friends from the show and it definitely reignited my love for Theater after doing TV and Film for many years previously.
You have so many amazing projects in the works! How do you stay organized and prioritize your tasks?
This may be my favorite question you’ve asked so far (haha).
I do enjoy wearing many hats and the simplest answer is: TO-DO checklists and Google Calendar. But the longer answer is that I believe in scheduling everything. I take each day one hour at a time and I make sure that I even schedule in an hour for myself each day when I can, whether that’s watching a TV show, getting a facial, reminding myself to use a face mask before bed or taking a bath. I make sure that I work out in the mornings and those have become a non-negotiable for me because otherwise I get too bogged down and tired later in the day and I won’t do it. I know that waking up in the mornings sucks but I do my best work in the mornings, so I make sure that I schedule the harder tasks in the AM and leave the errands for later. I allow myself 6 big tasks a day and below the line I write all the other notes and things I need to accomplish if they aren’t time sensitive and whatever I don’t get to, moves to the next days schedule! (Thanks to my Baron Fig Habit tracker planner :))
Kiok: I don’t think that I’m completely undefinable, but no one thing can define me. I’m a culmination of many different traits.
How did you seek mentorship when starting out in this industry?
My career wouldn’t have blossomed the way it has without the strong leadership I’ve witnessed from my former managers and peers. When I initially delved into PR, I reached out to everyone in my network and asked if I could help them in any way. From there, it was important to ask the right questions, be observant, and always be quick on my feet. I preemptively prepared for any requests that my boss could request of me, learned how to pack a PR mailer more efficiently, and reorganized the product cabinets. For me, it was all about being proactive.
For those that are interested in pursuing a career in PR, what is the most important thing to keep in mind when representing your clients?
Whether you’re in-house at a brand or at an agency where you manage multiple clients, it’s crucial to listen to your client’s goals and stay on-brand on their behalf. For example, if a brand maintains a certain aesthetic, I’ll try to dress the part when I take meetings or help them host an event. Also, it’s essential to drive any conversation back to the brand so that it stays top-of-mind.
What would you say to those out there that want to follow in your footsteps and start a company?
My advice is to create a company because of an actual need or a void that you’ve identified in the market. I wouldn’t start a company haphazardly, since there will be many unforeseen challenges along the way. However, if you’re convinced that your company could solve a problem with the correct solution, then you’ll have the convictions to lead fearlessly and to also stand out amongst a sea of potential competitors. From there, build your team with people who are smarter than you, but are just as driven. I believe that you can only grow from honestly knowing your own strengths and weaknesses and allowing yourself to learn from others, too. Personally speaking, I hired a financial advisor who keeps our business in-check because I’m not naturally great with numbers.
Written By ASIAN AMERICAN GIRL CLUB - October 01 2019
Singer, songwriter, member of RCA Records’ girl group Citizen Queen.
Who inspired you to start singing?
Nina: My parents. I feel lucky to have felt comforted, loved, and supported through my journey in an industry that is not always so loving. I started singing and acting professionally when I was around seven years old. Rejection after rejection later, as everyone that auditions experiences, I couldn’t help but question if who I am, and what I looked like was the issue. I wondered if there was love for Asian American Girls, and if there was even a story of a multiracial girl in America to BE told in the first place. As time has gone on, I have learned that those not represented in media have to take the bull by the horns and MAKE space. The girls of Citizen Queen, my girl group, are doing just that. I’m proud to be the figure for Asian American and multiracial girls I never really had growing up. And I get to be that by doing what I love - singing.
Photo by Luke Fontana
There aren't many Asian Americans in mainstream music, who or what gave you the courage to pursue this industry?
I actually think Asian Americans are slowly starting to rise and become more known than before. Some of the biggest asian American artists dominate the charts: Bruno Mars is half filipino, so is Hailee Steinfeld, BLACKPINK is taking over, and Awkwafina is making space in the industry for herself quite successfully. These artists keep my head up. What I think is definitely missing is the story of the Asian American experience in mainstream music. An amazing example of a song like this is “I Can Only Write My Name”, by Will Jay. Composing stories like this is NECESSARY for the normalization of Asian American Artists into Mainstream Music. People need to hear our perspective. Until people are willing and excited to listen, we will continue to make space for ourselves. And for those of you reading this that feel hesitant to enter the music industry because it seems as though not many Asian Americans succeed in it:
It’s about the music. Tell your amazing story, and REGARDLESS of who you are or what you are, people will listen.
Your story needs to be heard. Be the first to say something or be something if no one has yet.
Don’t trip. We’re thriving. We are making space for ourselves, and even more for you.
Check out some inspiring words of motivation from Nina!
Written By ASIAN AMERICAN GIRL CLUB - September 17 2019
Comedian, actress and writer. Catch Sherry in Good Trouble on FreeForm!
"I think stand up comedy is such a scary thing- how did you conquer any fears that you may have had when starting out?”
Sherry: The nerves and fears don’t go away… it’s how you translate it on stage. I’ve learned to just breathe and have fun. A joke might not succeed, but instead of tensing up and sweating it - just chuckle and move on! The more I take myself less seriously, the more seriously people will take me! I’m just gonna pretend like that sentence made sense. At the end of the day, I get to make people laugh for a living. What’s scary about that?
How did you find your voice in comedy?
Honestly, I’m still finding it! I’ve only been doing stand-up for three-ish years, and there are certain things I’m not sure I’m ready to talk about. My joke topics are pretty mixed. I definitely say what’s on my mind, but sometimes I feel like I’m not opinionated enough or I’m not digging deep enough. I’m only human! It takes time to put 100% of yourself out there on stage. It’s a journey!
How do you stay inspired and come up with new material?
Consuming pop culture really helps. I throw in Marie Kondo references and all that good stuff. The struggle of writer’s block is often real, then I’ll suddenly get a wave of inspiration. I love metaphorical stuff, like comparing the burden of jury duty to being someone’s bridesmaid. I also talk about hypothetical stuff, like if strippers also did magic tricks. Of course, lots of material comes from just being a bisexual Asian American immigrant girl living in LA. It’s random AF, but let’s hope these funny juices keep flowing!
Check out what Sherry says about being being undefinable!
What inspired you to share your home recipe skincare products with a bigger audience?
When I was feeling meh about my skin, I wasn’t the same person, I lost the spark in my eyes in how I saw myself. I thought- Wow, if I was feeling dissatisfied and uncomfortable in my skin, there’s probably so many others that feel that exact same way. I had such an incredible experience falling in love with my skin after using natural ingredients and creating my own recipes, I just wanted to share it with others. I discovered myself and my skin in a whole new way, and I couldn’t help but want to share to make a difference with others too.
What was the biggest struggle you or Honey Belle overcame in the beginning stages of building your brand and business?
The biggest struggle is always the one I’m overcoming *now*, in the present. Each year, each month, each day of growth comes with new challenges. I’ve had to face new problems, new obstacles, and each time I conquer a certain set of obstacles, there are a new set of “evolved” obstacles. These challenges included hiring and training staff members, expanding the product line to retail stores, managing employees, creating new partnerships, etc. I find myself walking on a path that I’ve not crossed, and it’s scary, exciting, and enlivening all at the same time.
What are your self care rituals?
Aside from my skincare routine which consists of all Honey Belle products [ Yes, I actually do use all of my products religiously! ], self-care and mindful wellbeing are one of my favorite things to nurture on a daily basis. I practice focusing on my breath, and remaining calm and clear in the midst of discomfort and pain through yoga (on and off of my mat). I make it a point to *decide* beforehand how I want to feel about something, and if I’m frustrated or worried about something, I list 5 things I can let go of in that moment. And when I’m headed to bed, I list out 10 things I’m grateful for that day. Physical beauty and physical wellbeing is one thing, but together and combined with inner wellbeing, that’s where the magic is at.
Check out Iris' inspiring words on what makes her undefinable and her self care tips! For more from Iris, follow her at @irischerng.
Sara: I am uniquely me, always evolving in hopes of becoming the absolute best version of myself, without forgetting where I came from or those who have helped me along the way.
Seeing an Asian American woman as the senior fashion and beauty editor of Bustle makes us feel all kinds of inspiration. How did you build your career?
From the moment I picked up my first teen magazine, I knew I wanted to become a writer and create content for young women. I remember obsessing over issues of Cosmo Girl! and dreaming of one day becoming an Atoosa Rubenstein, the magazine's Editor-in-Chief. I loved how fun and honest she was and the fact that she got to play with makeup and clothes and give advice to teens for a living was basically the coolest thing ever to me. When I was in high school, I wrote her a letter asking how I could follow in her footsteps and she wrote me back! I took that as a sign that I should pursue journalism.
It was also no secret that there were not any women or girls who looked like me in the pages of the magazines that I read, the movies I watched, or even the music I listened to. I really wanted to pursue editorial not only because I loved writing and storytelling, but also because I wanted to create content for girls who looked just like me.
I majored in Communications and Professional Writing and Editing at UCSB and applied for as many writing internships as I could during my time in college. After graduation, I got my first real job as the Digital Editor at Tiger Beat Magazine. I had the opportunity to build their website and cover all of the latest teen stars like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and the Jonas Brothers. The job taught me so much about working in the editorial world, from coming up with story ideas to interviewing celebrities. From there, I worked at another media company, where I helped create content for various websites like AOL and MSN. Then, I took a leap of faith and decided to go freelance. I knew I wanted to build my beauty and fashion portfolio even more, and that's how I found Bustle. I've been the West Coast Fashion and Beauty Editor at Bustle for the last 5 years and it has been the most incredible and rewarding job of my career so far. Only recently did I realize that I was actually doing what I had always set out to do — to create content for every kind of young woman (including those who look just like me) and to represent the Asian American women community. It is an honor and privilege, and I am so grateful that I get to call it my job!
Can you walk us through your daily skincare routine? (We need all the tips!)
I usually work out in the morning, so I won’t wash my face until after to prevent over-cleansing and drying my skin out. After my workout, I’ll use a cleanser (right now I’m using Tatcha's Rice Polish), followed by a toner to balance my skin’s pH, a vitamin C serum to brighten, a light but hydrating moisturizer, and then sunscreen with SPF 50 PA+++. Throughout the day, I’ll use a mist to keep my face looking fresh and feeling hydrated. At the end of the day, I’ll double cleanse if I’m wearing makeup. I’ll use a toner and then 2 to 3x a week I’ll use a mask of some sort depending on my needs. I’ll usually use an exfoliating peel once a week to get rid of dead skin cells as well as a hydrating and repairing one for maintenance. I’ll follow up with a serum, usually one with hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate and then once a week, a retinol to keep the wrinkles at bay. Then, I’ll lock in all the moisture with a moisturizer, a sleeping mask (for extra hydration) and a lip mask (because my lips are super dry.)
Tell us a little bit about your new podcast “Gloss Angeles.” We are so excited for this!
Gloss Angeles is a podcast that my beauty BFF and fellow Capricorn Kirbie Johnson and I started recently and we are so excited about it! Gloss Angeles gives our West Coast perspective on all things makeup, skincare, and wellness with a sprinkle of pop culture and celebrity (because we live in LA, after all). Through our podcast, we're hoping to pull back the curtain on beauty trends, treatments, and products in Hollywood, in order to help our listeners navigate the sometimes confusing, but wonderful world of beauty. Please give us a listen! :)
Krista: ME! My job, my ethnicity, my gender make up PARTS of me that I’m very proud of, in an individual way, but they don’t define or label me based on a group definition or stereotype. There is so much more beyond my job, ethnicity, and gender that make me who I am! There are many many many layers in a human being - every person in the world has a different story, and history - nobody is the same, and that’s what makes human nature so interesting and beautiful and unpredictable!
How do you handle rejection?
Rejection is a big part of my job as an actor and artist. Rejection isn’t easy. When I audition for a role and do not get the part, I usually am bummed. But then I remind myself the part is going to another hustling actor, and I certainly can’t be mad about that - we are all working hard, and there is room for everyone, especially to celebrate more Asian American actors!!
Being rejected socially is something that is harder to deal with, because at first it feels much more personal. For example, being excluded from a group or a party or conversation might not feel good. But I have learned over time that it is not worth the energy to worry about people who are exclusive. Especially when I have genuine, wonderful, and supportive friends and family (like Team AAGC!) that I would so much rather spend that energy and time on and with
If someone is choosing to be unconcerned or catty, then I probably don’t want to be around an insensitive person anyway. It’s so much better to focus on the love and matters that are important to you, than the inevitable negativity surrounding you. That's why I deeply value inclusiveness and kindness.
Being rejected has taught me confidence, to love myself instead of looking for someone else to, and most importantly, to treat OTHERS with love and compassion because I know how bad it feels to be on the rejected side. I do find coffee ice cream a great friend on the darker days, though (Haagen daz plz) =)
Dr. Ken (ABC)
Last Man Standing (FOX)
Favorite self care tips?
15 min walk outside right before the sun goes down, extra bonus with a dog!
Stretching and breathing
Prioritizing Family and Friends time
Taking the time to give thanks.
A single flower
Dancing to music
Check out what Krista has to say about what being undefinable means to her!
Asha: I wear many hats, I think the ability to not define any one particular role in life makes the journey that much more interesting.
You have such a fascinating story. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming an entrepreneur?
I was born in London to Indian parents, so my design palate — think, traditional eastern heirlooms and customs set against a modern, western backdrop — infinitely rich, too.
Despite loving art and fashion from an early age, I knew way better than to announce to my parents that that was going to be my lot in life! I followed an interest in science and trained as a pharmacist, so when I hear my pieces described as “harmonious” and “balanced”, I know that my left-brain, right-brain life path has made my work better for it.
Photo by Thu Tran, @thulegit
The process of launching Asha Patel Designs was part heart and part strategy, too. First, gifting pieces to friends and loved ones, then eventually, moving to an online presence. Today, I’m grateful that that process led to true brand love.
I aim to strike a balance behind what’s modern to the eye and what’s timeless in our souls: pieces featuring age-old symbols and materials, that happen to also layer beautifully (and powerfully) into modern life. I’m most proud when people integrate my work into their own spiritual and self-love practices — whether that be through yoga or simply reaching for them throughout their days as a way to center themselves — and share back to me that they’ve gotten better and better at listening to what’s inside because of it.
Photo by Thu Tran, @thulegit
What are your self care rituals?
Taking care of myself involves three important pillars - nutrition, sleep and exercise.
1) Much of my time, when I’m not crafting or designing jewelry, is spent preparing home cooked meals. Cooking is definitely a labor of love but I find it quite therapeutic.
2) I’ve always been one who enjoys going to sleep; couple that with being married to a sleep physician who reminds me of the adverse effects associated poor sleep hygiene.
3) I’m not a hard core exerciser but stay true to the mantra “slow and steady wins the race”. I aim for some form of cardio, 30 minutes daily. I also try to meditate everyday.