I am proud to have been born and raised in Hawaii with strong cultural ties to my Japanese roots. After going through a number of difficult years, I started making things that brought me joy and reminded me of who I am and where I come from. I use licensed artwork and my own designs to create tote bags, cosmetic bags, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and coasters.
I draw a lot of influence from my bachan (we called her Cha Chan) and my mother, who were both strong and creative women. My Japanese grandparents were both born in Hawaii but raised partly in Japan. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, they were sent to Jerome, Arkansas and later, Tule Lake where my father and uncle were born. Although my grandparents were "no-no's" and had chosen repatriation, she went before a judge to beg to reverse their decision so that my uncle could be born on US soil. And then weeks later she traveled across the Pacific to return to Hawaii with a newborn and toddler. In addition to being a Japanese language teacher, my bachan was an Ikebana master, tea ceremony master, and had her own Japanese cooking show and even produced an instructional origami video. I am so proud of being Japanese because that is how she taught us to be, in spite of everything she went through.
In 2019 my then 3-year old daughter, Hailee, was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Morquio A. It was extremely difficult to balance my career with her surgeries, tests, specialist appointments, and weekly 6-hour treatments at Seattle Children's Hospital. BUT I DID IT because that's what moms (and women in general) do - we keep going!! But then a global pandemic hit and I came to the difficult realization that my job was no longer compatible with the responsibilities I had to my family.
A friend suggested I channel my energy into creative outlets... and snarky little me got to work entertaining myself. I knew immediately that I wanted my products to center Asian pride and especially Asian women, Hawaii pride, feminism, and of course, snark. And here I am! What started out as something just for me has turned into so much more. I love scouring designs and designers for images that speak to my heart, fire up my soul, and connect me with people and places that are meaningful to me.
This Snarky Hapa journey has reminded me of who I am and what I am made of, and the long line of badass women I descend from. My hope is that by creating things that give me strength and joy, I might also help others find some strength and joy of their own.