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!
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.