Product design is an essential component to making the world a better place. How? Good products solve consumer problems and like TOMS, can inspire others, particularly within fashion trends. But more so, good design and material choice have significant impact on the environment and people working within the supply chain that produces it. Read More
One of the fastest ways for a society to leapfrog its economic development is through technology. We saw this in China, where traditional landlines that were communally shared quickly gave way to mobile tech before landline infrastructure were even built. Grandmas manning telephone stations on the street with long phone cords paralleled youth riding bicycles while talking on their cellphones. However, the commercial and consumer uses for tech can be very unique and require well-thought out planning and product development. Read More
call me panda
Growing up, I was a big fan of bamboo and bamboo calligraphy art. It wasn’t until well into adulthood that I finally learned that my Chinese name, 念筠 literally meant “Thinking of Bamboo.” The 筠 -Yun character was particularly esoteric, I just scrolled through about a hundred other similar-sound characters on my keyboard to use it. Its usage to mean “bamboo” was so archaic that my mom said she had never read it before in print, and she had been a Chinese studies major. But coincidentally, both grandmothers of my grandfather had this rare character in their names. So I was named Nianyun, literally reminiscent, in memory, or thinking of bamboo. And it only seemed natural that I would in turn name my Arbor pintail skateboard Bamboo as well. Read More
Within the Tianzifang arts district of Shanghai is a little shop called SHOKAY. I admit it, SHOKAY is one of the social venture businesses that I have a huge crush on. It is a luxury boutique specializing in yak cashmere fashion. Moreso, its purpose is to bring economic growth to traditional herding communities in Tibet and Western China leveraging design, supply chain and education innovations.
Found this in JLee’s instagram, I think it’s in Myanmar again…
It’s often in the in-between spaces of life that we grow the most. Last year, our own JLee negotiated some time off before leaving sunny Los Angeles for new work in by the canals of Amsterdam. Serendipitously, I took over her apartment, a beautiful one bedroom that had been handed down by the girls in our church fellowship. I watched JLee stuff all of her belongings into our hall closet, and cram a month’s worth of life supplies into a gigantic backpack. First stop was Nepal, then Myanmar with a final pitstop in Korea. Not bad at all, it’s amazing the things you can get away with a little scheming… ahem… planning. JLee plans. I just kind of just wing it. This is why we love working with each other!
A few years ago, I met Bonita Lim, head of Brown Rice Designs and the inspiration behind the NuoMi Shanghai label, through a friend’s introduction. Founded in 2006, NuoMi set out to help others through sustainable, eco-friendly, stylish fashion. At the time I was with TOMS Shoes, and eagerly exploring China’s teen fashion market.
Some amazing expeditions begin with a dream and inspiration. My journey began in jest.
Three years into my job, I had managed to build a very successful business from scratch within a major mobile tech company and was knee-deep in starting up my second. It had been a transformational ride from boot-strap social entrepreneur to corporate manager jet-setting Asia and Europe in the name of product and profit.