Jina’s Story


Jina first became interested in social entrepreneurship through her involvement with the TOMS Shoes Club on campus at the University of Michigan where she studied Economics. At the time, the concept of bringing philanthropy and business together was very ground-breaking, and seemed to dovetail well with her interests in international business. She soon found herself landing a coveted summer internship with TOMS, where she met Melissa while working on a research project on the Korean market.

One of the main things she has learned through her work at TOMS was how to quickly build a global movement while working with very limited resources. Jina was impressed with the passion people had at her work, and it became clear that marrying vision with project management was key to turning dreams into reality. Her project to launch a marketing campaign across over 25 countries gave her deep insights to collaborating and leading across cultures. She also discovered the power of storytelling to snowball a social mission causes.

Jina later joined Melissa at Belkin International, where she put her creativity to use in product management. Most of what she remembers were the Mission Impossible projects, taking off on a day’s notice to Shenzhen, living in the factory with her team for 3 weeks at a time and consuming large quantities of KFC while creating everything from tablet covers to iPhone cases. Her specialty was covertly adding useful innovations like handstraps to her products without anyone at headquarters being any wiser for it, to happily profitable results. Jina has a love for intuitive design that knocks the mismatched socks off her feet. After leading one of the largest revenue product categories in the company, one day she decided to leave sunny Los Angeles. She then exported herself to Belkin’s Amsterdam headquarters to better partake of its dreary weather, sarcastic wit and began to practice intense bicycling.

One day while musing over a Heineken, Jina realized she must pack Melissa into her suitcase and move to Africa. In their next chat, she announced the plan, and began educating herself on the international development landscape while praying to God that there was enough room in her suitcase to both fit a human being and her rather large wardrobe. After a blitz trip to Nairobi, she found an organization that built ground up solutions helping farmers, created measurable impact, and were well-versed in sustainable management practices. Along the way, she collected Melissa who found herself serendipitously sent to Africa, and began intense ground training working in Kenya and Rawanda.

Jina loves design, photography, pottery, painting, and attempts a smattering of effort across all these passions. She particularly loves exploring new foods, and devotes a much more concerted undertaking to document every edible item consumed in as beautiful a manner as possible.


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