• Mary

May 2022 Update: Paris, Tulips, and Maracas

Updated: May 15

I'm writing this update from Paris, where we've just checked into our 2nd AirBnB for the stay. We arrived on Tuesday morning and have been so happy to be back to this city that we love. We've been missing Jazzy and the dogs a lot, and are looking forward to seeing them when we arrive home on Sunday afternoon.


At home

My tulips blossomed over the past couple of weeks and it's brought me so much joy. I'm definitely going to be ordering more for planting this fall.


At work

I've felt myself turn a corner at work where I'm a little more settled and a little more comfortable navigating my days. I feel busier, which is a sign that I know what needs to be done next. On Monday, the day after we get home from Paris, I have to go upstate a couple of hours to an all-day town hall for my organization. There's a team dinner planned for the evening and so I don't expect to get home until around 9pm. It'll be a rough beginning to the week and a kick in my jet-lagged pants, but I'll have to power through it and try to enjoy the opportunity to meet people face to face.

Pottery

Since March, I've had my head down working on sculpting Maraca vases for a large wholesale order due later this summer, along with many lemon ornaments because I can't seem to keep those in stock. To date, I've sculpted 34, with a few more dozen to go to hit quantity plus the several backup ones I'll make for peace of mind. Next, I'll need to make a bunch of Large Arch vases for the same order, but that's a ways off from now. May is the month of Maracas.


I've been able to keep the shop pipeline open, if only at a trickle, and expect this pace to continue for the rest of spring and into summer.

May is also Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage month, and I was lucky enough to be selected by Etsy for their AAPI shop feature. Check out the Editor's Story and shop other AAPI-owned Etsy makers here.


As part of this feature, I was asked to answer a few questions from which the editors would select a short quote. Here are the questions and my answers:


—What inspired you to start creating and selling your pieces?

I believe that I inherited my creative spark from my maternal grandmother, who never learned to read but could do all sorts of exquisite handiwork, from making intricate paper cuttings (a form of traditional Chinese folk art) to conjuring stuffed toys with detailed embroidery for her grandkids to making steamed buns in various animal shapes to serve for the Lunar New Year.


My inspiration comes from mythology, nature, and visual experiences collected throughout my life. I love sitting down to still my mind by using my hands to create something, and pottery is such a meditative process. Selling my items became the natural next step, particularly as I found finished pieces filling up in my home. It's also so empowering to be able to build a business based in something I love to do, that's so close to my heart.


—What sort of effect do you hope your work and your products will have on your customers or your community?

I feel honored each time someone chooses to bring something that I’ve made into their space and give it a home. My hope is that my pieces bring a little bit of good into my customer's day: joy, peace, silence, fun, beauty - whatever it is that they happen to need in the moment as they interact with my work. It's important to me to make things that bring tactile pleasure, that feel good or comforting to hold or wear.


—Is there anything you’d like to share about how your experience as an AAPI maker comes into play for you as an entrepreneur?

My Chinese-American identity deeply informs my work, and I draw so much inspiration from my family and my culture. In a more direct way, I'm fortunate to be able to partner with my father every so often to make some very special porcelain pieces together, where I sculpt the item and he paints on them in the Chinese calligraphy and ink painting style that he practices.


As a business-owner, my background comes into play when I think about the approach I take to customer service. The traditions of hospitality and responsibilities of hosting are strong in Chinese culture, and I see myself as being a host to those who enter my creative space and shop.


Something I am working to overcome is the impulse to imbue everything I make with some level of utility. Growing up as an immigrant, buying anything for pure pleasure always felt like an indulgence, and so while art for art’s sake is a notion I can absolutely understand, I struggle to give myself that same license. I'm still learning to value and use my creative voice.


—What's one thing allies can do to help support the AAPI community?

Support for the AAPI and other marginalized communities in the form of investment is crucial. Investment of your consumer dollars to support and amplify AAPI businesses, artists, and voices. Investment of time to seek out and listen to our stories, in which I bet you’ll find some echo of your own. Investment of effort in learning something about the cultures which form us so that you too can appreciate and share in the richness of our histories. The food isn't bad, either.


—Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Many AAPI businesses have a network of small businesses that are integral to their success, and when you support them you are supporting those networks as well. When you purchase my work, you’re also supporting the AAPI-owned pottery studio where I’m a member, the various Etsy shops that supply my business with everything from custom stamps to packaging details, and a number of eateries and boba tea shops in Manhattan’s Koreatown that power my studio days.

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