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Best Fashion Bloggers Who Happen to be Asian UPDATED (and Kate Lanphear)

Nini Style Nini Nyugyn Nguyen best asian american fashion bloggers JadeLuckClub Jade Luck ClubI’ve been up way too late on many nights surfing the web and my indulgence lately has been fashion street style photo blogs. It started off innocently enough with being the last person on the planet to discover The Sartorialist. Then, I met his chic French girlfriend, another amazing fashion blogger, Garance Doré, and then it spiraled into checking out her blogroll. And then from those blogs, their blog rolls too. Along the way, I found that many of my favorite blogs were created by Asian Americans and my poster child for most amazing fashion blogger is Citizen Couture.

This is why he epitomizes, for me, the reason why I created this blog: to celebrate Asian American creativity and the path less taken! Here’s his story (and he tells it best himself):

Citizen Couture JadeLuckClub best fashion blogs Asian American best bloggers Jade Luck Club“My name is Jason Jean and I’m a former tax professional turned freelance photographer.* After several years in the public accounting industry while diagnosed with juvenile glaucoma and becoming partially blind, I decided to explore my creative side that was suppressed since childhood. I started shooting mid-2008 and fell in love with capturing style/fashion while connecting with various inspirational people throughout the world.”

*I can’t find him on LinkedIn but he worked at a Big 6 Accounting Firm and probably has a C.P.A or was well on his way towards one (I think you need to log something like 2000 hours of accounting at a Big Six firm).  There is also mention of him working at a Wall Street Investment Bank.

 

He came to this creative place by way of accounting while dealing with partial blindness and he takes the most gorgeous photo portraits. Amazing given that he gets about ten seconds to set up his shot!

So, to showcase these fashion bloggers, I am showing you shots that each of these bloggers took of another fashion discovery that I made while reading their blogs:  Style Star Kate Lanphear. She’s the Style Director at Elle Magazine and has legions of followers who love her elegant punk chic style. And, from what the bloggers say, she’s the nicest person ever. It’s interesting too, to see how each blogger captures Kate. You can get a real sense of their blogs from seeing their shots of the same person.

What is your favorite fashion blog?

 

Citizen Couture

Jason has insider fashion knowledge and has a “less is more” approach. His talent lies in creating portraits of the Fashionista Insiders and he is able to capture their personalities as well as their outfits.

Kate Lanphear on Citizen Couture Blog best Asian American bloggers fashion JadeLuckClubKate Lanphear Elle Magazine Citizen Couture JadeLuckClub Best of Fashion Blogs BloggersKate Lanphear Citizen Couture JadeLuckClub

Jac and Jil

Tommy Ton is the ultimate fashion insider. Not only does he have an encyclopedic knowledge of fashion (he can ID any item on the person he shoots) but he knows the editors, designers, models, and stylists. He has a distinct photo style and often captures a detail like the heel of an amazing shoe. I spotted some cool photos in Harper’s Bazaar the other day, and, of course, they were his.

Kate Lanphear Jac and Jil blog Tommy Ton JadeLuckClub best fashion blogs Asian American http://jakandjil.com Jak and Jil Kate Lanphear best asian american fashion bloggers JadeLuckClubKate Lanphear Jac and Jil best asian american bloggers JadeLuckClub Tommy TonKate Lanphear Punk Chic Elegant fashion Jac and Jill blog JadeLuckClub

FashionToast

I love this blog but it pretty much just features blogger Rumi Neely who looks like a model but is also a stylist and über blogger. Her boyfriend Colin takes the shots. This is my favorite one. I like the way she writes. Her posts come off as wryly self deprecating and intelligent. She also always looks great and is credited with creating the term, “shoe porn.” Yep, she loves shoes. The higher the better it seems!

Rumi is the “shoppiest” out of these outfits with an eye of a serious fashion curator shopping and mixing up both high and low. The combination stylist, model, and blogger is a powerful trifecta. Expect to see more of her in the media. She’s gonna be BIG! TV show? Her own line? The sky’s the limit for her.

FashionToast JadeLuckClub best asian american bloggers best fashion blogs“I feel like it’s so stupidly me to be posting about a sweater in the middle of summer but this is one of my absolute favorite purchases I’ve made lately. Isabel Marant’s knits this past season were so basic and perfect and I’m already zeroing in on a few pieces from her fall collection that look promising. I’m so inspired lately by almost normal to a fault but clothes that can be worn every day. Also making me happy: that someone with a brain (at a photo shoot for Japanese brand OZOC) finally got ahold of my bangs and cut them in a way that makes sense. THANK YOU.” Her post on 7/3/11

BryanBoy

BryanBoy is a friend of Rumi Neely. It does seem to be a very, VERY small world in the land of fashion blogging. Their blogs are part of the same consortium NowManifest and his blog is the most versatile of these blogs. He has videos, lengthy interesting text as well as stunning photos. Alas, he didn’t post on Kate Lanphear either so I used this shot of him instead.

Bryan Boy fashion blogger JadeLuckClub Asian American best fashion blogs

StyleBubble

StyleBubble by Suzy “Bubble” was nicknamed this moniker because she lived in her own fantasy fashion-y world as a child. She reminds of Anna Sui-meets-Cyndi Lauper if you gave this mash up a camera, a witty and intelligent voice that comes across in every post, and a bubbly personality. Her intelligence comes across as strongly as her love of fashion. She really, really, REALLY has fun dressing up every day; sometimes up to five outfits a day! She is less about shopping and spending as dressing-as-self-expression.

Suzy Bubble Style Bubble best fashion blogs JadeLuckClub Asian American bloggers best “It’s hard NOT to have a positive relationship with Acne.  They annoyingly don’t get many things wrong.  Lovely collections with lovely pieces that get worn until they start to shrivel up.  Lovely stores.  Lovely magazine.  Lovely shows.  Lovely events.  Lovely people.  You get the idea. ” StyleBubble, July 21, 2011.

You hear voice? Then add a Brit accent because she’s a Brit.

 Fashion is Poison

I found Lucrecia Chen by combing through Citizen Couture. Her blog is Fashion is Poison and she combines love of clothes with her battle with cancer. It’s a powerful and sobering combination.

Fashion is Poison Lucrecia Chen Best Fashion Bloggers Asian American JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

Street Peepers

I’m not sure how Phil Oh does it, but he posts stylish people from all over the world. Philip Oh is now shooting for Vogue Magazine.

Street Peepes Phil Oh Phillip Oh Philip Oh Vogue Magazine Best Fashion Bloggers Asian Americans JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

Nini Style

I’ve been following this blog for a while and I am always impressed with how meticulously turned out Nini Nguyen is. She’s gorgeous too! The only drawback to her blog is that she tends to wear couture designer labels so it’s not exactly what I would wear or need in real life. Still, it’s always fun to see what look she’s created. Fashion Porn!

Nini Style Nini Nyugyn Nguyen best asian american fashion bloggers JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

Asian Models

Female Asian models have recently made strides in the high fashion world. Once just relegated to “check-off-the-diversity-box” category, Asian models have come into their own and now are gaining super model status. This is chronicled in Asian Models blog which tracks both male and female models and their work both in print and down the runway.

Asian Models best fashion bloggers Asian American rise of Asian models JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

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Top 10: Best Asian American Fashion Designers. Who Will be Next? UPDATED

Joseph Altazarra Lily Kwong JadeLuckClub Best Asian American fashion designers

The newest Asian American Fashion Wunderkind is Joseph Altazarra. His ethnicity is a bit under the radar but he’s half French-Basque (father) and half Chinese American (mother). It’s a good looking combination! He studied art history at Swarthmore College then interned for Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler and Givenchy despite not having a formal fashion education. It helps that he runs with NYC It Girls like his cousin and model Lily Kwong, “Lauren Santo Domingo, the Vogue editor, and Vanessa Traina, who walked in his spring show.” NY Times Blog

Joseph Altuzarra JadeLuckClub Top 10 Asian American Fashion DesignersJoseph Altazarra Lily Kwong JadeLuckClub Best Asian American fashion designers

His clothes are known for Body-Con chic with an edgy twist.

altuzarra collections jadeluckclub asian american fashion designer best up and comingJoseph Altazurra collection Asian American Fashion Designer JadeLuck

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The first eight designers are from the U.S. Embassy site and I added two more favorites. Thank you to my friend Ginny for sending me this link!

“Asian-American designers are a major force in the global fashion industry, as the New York Times recently noted. In this group are Vera Wang, Anna Sui and other established figures, plus relative newcomers such as Jason Wu and Thakoon Panichgul (both of whom are favorites of U.S. first lady Michelle Obama). Each designer has a distinctive aesthetic, reflecting the deep Asian-American talent pool in fashion and other fields. Here, models show off evening wear by Monique Lhuillier, a Filippina-turned-Californian.”

Asian American designers are rocking it. Who will be the next Big Thing? Can you suggest some under-the-radar Asian designers? Let’s discover them together!

 

1. Thakoon Panichgul

Known for gorgeous prints and COLOR, Thakoon is a line that says “happy!”

Thakoon Panichgul JadeLuckClub Top Asian Fashion Designers Best Fall Fashion

2. Monique Lhuillier

Her gowns grace red carpets and A Listers and her bridal collection is sought after by socialites.

Monique Lhuillier JadeLuckClub best asian american fashion designers top designers

3. Jason Wu

Dressing Michelle Obama put him firmly on the fashion map, but his flowy, feminine and flattering creations are what makes his line go supernova. His studded-on-the-bottom handbags are also the newest It Bag.

Jasso Wu Michelle Obama JadeLuckClub best asian american fashion designerMichelle obama jason wu gown inagural ball JadeLuckClub

4. Alexander Wang

Alexander Wang is Downtown NY cool. I love his looks but I am not cool enough to pull them off. Working on it!

Alexander Wang top best asian american designer jadeluckclub http://JadeLuckClub.com Celebrating Asian American Creativity

5. Anna Sui

With a funky boho vibe, Anna Sui is pure fun. I bought a dress from her capsule Target collection that gets a lot of compliments. No one can believe I bought it for $4o! Her own line is even nicer.

Anna Sui target lookbook top fashion designer asian american best fashion designer jade luck club

6. Phillip Lim

He started his own company at only age 31 (hence the 3.1) and he’s a runaway wunderkind commercial success. He hits all the right notes, season after season.

Philip Lim top asian american fashion designer jadeluckclub http://JadeLuckClub.com Jade Luck Club

7. Vera Wang

Her dad is a gazillionaire industrialist and her mom is a Tiger Mom. Known for her prodigious work ethic, Vera Wang is a runway and “for the masses” big-time success. Her Tiger Mom should be proud!

Best Asian American Fashion Designer Vera Wang Tiger Mom JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

8. Derek Lam

To me, he’s the Asian Michael Kors known for lux casual. I can’t afford him but I have been coveting his clothes for more than a decade.

derek lam michael kors jadeluckclub top asian american fashion designer

9. Prabal Gurung

He strikes the right balance of flouncy and tailored. If you can’t afford him, he did a nice capsule collection for J. Crew. There is still a little bit left.

Prabal Gurung Best Asian American Fashion Designer JadeLuckClub

10. Doo Ri

She understands drape more than any other designer, except, maybe for Donna Karan who famously failed that class in design school. Her clothes are lux, louche and gorgeous. I want!

Doo Ri top asian american fashion designers jadeluckclub jade luck club

Honorable Mention

Vivienne Tam

She creates very wearable clothes for real women, particularly those in the workforce.

Vivienne Tam Top Best Asian American Fashion Designers JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

Peter Som

 

Peter Som describes his aesthetic as one of “effortless elegance and refined sexiness”, and aspires to provide a fresh perspective to modern American fashion.

Peter Som best Asian American Fashion Designer JadeLuckClub

 

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What’s Your Story & How Do You Make a Difference? Submit Your Video to the White House Initiative on AAPIs

Obama White Initiative on AAPI JadeLuckClub Jade Luck ClubPresident Obama wants to learn more about YOU! That’s right, YOU! Tell your story via video and submit to the White House Initiative on AAPIs to share your story and how you are making a difference in your community! This is a great way to get an invite to meet the president!


There is nothing more powerful than the stories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Our stories define who we are, and they reflect our impact on the community around us. At the White House Initiative on AAPIs, we seek to amplify these voices nationally. We are pleased to announce the first ever White House Initiative Video Challenge, called “What’s Your Story?”

We’re calling on you to produce a video, up to three minutes long, telling us who you are and how you have impacted those around you. In your video, answer the questions: How have your unique experiences shaped who you are today? And in what ways are you making a difference in your community? Everyone is welcomed to participate.

We will review the submissions and post a select number of entries on the White House website. In addition, we’ll invite a group of exceptional AAPI leaders to share their stories in person at the White House this fall as special guests in a White House Initiative on AAPIs event. To learn more about the challenge, watch our call-out video.

To submit your video and learn more about the challenge, go to www.whitehouse.gov/whatsyourstory. The deadline for video submissions is midnight on November 1, 2011.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing your stories.

Sincerely,

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WhiteHouseAAPI
Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WhiteHouseAAPI

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Boston Mamas Blogger: Christine Koh, Choosing Creativity Over Science-y PhD

Christine Koh Boston Mamas JadeLuckClub Celebrating the Path Less TraveledPlease welcome blogger extraordinaire Korean American Christine Koh, who, on the eve of her PhD in psychology, did a career change into a creative career that includes blogging, web design, and making cute babies.

1) Tell me about your family background. Where were your parents born? What do they do? Brothers or sisters?

My parents were born in Korea and immigrated to the United States in their 20’s. They met while they were both living in the D.C. area and then eventually married and moved to Boston — my understanding is that part of the motivation was so all of their kids could eventually go to Harvard (of course!). Though my parents had training in other fields (my Mom completed her nursing degree here in the States), during my lifetime they owned and operated a market and invested in and managed real estate. At one point they had quite an empire of properties in the Cambridge area (again, in striking distance of Harvard!).I’m the sixth of seven — two boys, five girls — though a lot of people ask me if I’m the first born. I’m not sure whether or not that’s a compliment!

2) Where did you do your undergrad? What did you study and why?

A lot of people don’t believe me when I say this, but I wasn’t the greatest high school student — I was most interested in the performing arts and extracurricular activities such as the school newspaper. Anyway, I didn’t know a lot about Wheaton College (in Norton, MA) when I applied but I ended up matriculating (it is a lot harder to get in now than it was when I applied!) and what an extraordinary gift that was! I knew I wanted to continue playing violin but, given my experience with competitive orchestras in high school, I knew I wasn’t good enough to go professional (I started private lessons late…my Dad thought music lessons were a waste of money but my mom fought for them and eventually won). Thanks to some incredible professors I discovered my academic passion for psychology early on and pursued a double major, focusing on the experimental psychology and music performance tracks. Considering my high school slacker tendencies, it was remarkable to me that I graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, but it’s amazing how your motivation changes when you find your passion. And also when you have to pay your own way, as I did from sophomore to senior year. I worked 60-70 hour weeks during summer and winter breaks to save up for tuition and sent my work study checks during the school year to my Mom to help out at home. Being financially responsible definitely took my academic appreciation and motivation to a new level.

3) I find it inspiring that on the eve of your PhD in neuroscience, you decided to do a 180 degree career change into a creative field. Tell me more about that decision. Was it agonizing or a long time coming? How did your friends and family react?

Actually, the path to my 180 was a little longer. After I graduated from Wheaton I pursed a Master’s in psychology at Brandeis University (part-time, while working as a lab manager and research assistant full-time) and then completed my Ph.D. at Queen’s University in Canada. After finishing my Ph.D. I worked for three years as a postdoctoral fellow with joint appointments at Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard Medical School. Though I really loved and believed in my Ph.D. work, I was miserable at the postdoc, for reasons both personal and professional. However, I’m convinced that I needed to go through that experience as part of my life journey. I have always wrestled with insecurity about my intelligence and I think I needed to earn my Ph.D. and then get to a place like Harvard and MIT to prove to myself that I could do it. And ultimately see that it wasn’t such big a deal after all…I mean, yes, the people there are very smart, but they’re still just people.

Anyway, towards the end of my postdoc I started to think about faculty jobs. I was so inspired by my professors at Wheaton and that was my dream from the start – to go back and teach alongside my mentors. But not only had the postdoc sucked away all of my joy for research, I realized that I was a good academic but not passionate about the work in a way that would make me willing to sacrifice as one must in order to pursue academia in the Boston area. I have a lot of friends still in academia and I see how inspired and excited they are about the work… I just didn’t have that fire anymore.

Also, during my postdoc, my father’s health took a turn for the worse and my daughter Laurel was born. My priorities had definitely shifted. I kept thinking, if I’m going to spend time working, I need to be inspired and love what I’m doing.

By the fall of 2006, I was officially drowning emotionally at my postdoc so I jumped academicship before figuring out what was next – I am extremely grateful to my husband Jon for supporting that leap. I mean, yes, I had started Boston Mamas a couple of months prior to my jump, but it wasn’t a career yet. But the universe works in funny ways. A week after I left my postdoc, I was offered and signed my first major editing contract. And interest in Boston Mamas started to pick up and ads and other opportunities started rolling in. And I had been doing design projects on the fly for friends for a while and decided to formally launch my design business Posh Peacock. Eventually I started doing strategic creative consulting for companies. All of a sudden the pieces of my little media and design company were falling into place and intersecting in fun ways. Now, five years out, people talk about this brand I’ve built and while yes, I’ve worked very hard in the last five years, there wasn’t exactly a master plan – I never woke up thinking “OK, time to build my brand!” I just kept gravitating towards and creating in the spaces that I felt passionate about and things evolved from there – it was very organic.

As for reaction, I don’t think I came up against a single piece of resistance when I left the field. All of my friends were like, “Well, finally!” because they always felt I was such an extroverted creative spirit and not meant to toil away writing Matlab code by myself all day. And by the time I left academia, my father had died so when I told my Mom, she was so supportive. She and my father had worked so hard for so long – with a definite purpose but without joy as one of their professional criteria…she just wanted me to do something that made me happy. It meant the world to me.

4) You’ve won numerous awards as a blogger. Can you tell me more some of the awards that you are most proud of? What has been most challenging being a blogger? What has been the most rewarding? Which blog is your “favorite”?

I am truly honored and humbled by all of the press and accolades I have received over the years – it would be hard to pin down a favorite piece of coverage. But there are certainly highlights. I know lists can be rather arbitrary but being selected as one of Nielsen’s 50 Power Moms was definitely a turning point profile wise. And it meant a lot to me to share my perspective regarding blogging ethics on FOX 25 Boston and NPR. It also was pretty funny to have my picture appear in a Boston Globe column alongside Gisele Bundchen (I was interviewed about her comments regarding breastfeeding) and – given my love for fashion – it was extremely cool to be included in a fashion feature in Woman’s Day.

I would say that one of my biggest blogging challenges is witnessing or coping with bad social media practices. I’ve seen many things that have made me cringe over the years and I unfortunately have had many experiences where people have mistreated mutual acquaintances or crawled out of the woodwork in very tasteless ways in an effort to get covered on my site or procure free consulting services. It makes me sad. And as a mom, I can’t help but think, “What would your mother think of this behavior?!”

On the flip side, the most rewarding part of blogging is the community – both the social element and the ability of the community to rally for positive action. I operated in such a cave when I
first started blogging and a definite turning point was when I was invited to attend Disney’s first social media mom event and met a group of truly amazing bloggers. I’ve since attended many conferences and press events and have made incredible friends along the way – there is so much love and support and awesomeness in this space. I feel so lucky to be a part of it.

As for favorite blogs, goodness, there are so many bloggers I adore… I could never narrow it down to just one. But here are a few that spring to mind: Liz of Mom-101, Stephanie of Adventures in Babywearing, and Rebecca of Girl’s Gone Child write with such soul. Gabrielle of Design Mom is such a generous friend and talented curator. Asha of Parent Hacks is such an impressive community builder and is a wonderfully reflective friend…she was one of the first people I “e-met” in the digital space. I can never get enough of the words and photography of Tracey Clark or Karen Walrond. Jennifer James always has her finger on the pulse of the mom blogging community and is a dear confidante. Oh, and I read men too! I love Jim of Busy Dad Blog, C.C. Chapman, Pierre of Metro Dad, and Doug of Laid-Off Dad.

And of course there’s tons of great content at BlogHer, and Kirtsy just underwent an impressive overhaul – I’m inspired to visit daily to discover new blogs or to simply find visual inspiration.

5) With an infant and toddler, several blogs and a small business, you are one busy woman. How do you juggle it all? What is a typical day for you?

It’s a little crazy, I know. I think a big part of it is setting expectations and tuning into what matters in the moment. And another part is that productivity is easy when you love what you’re doing.

But you want details, right? When Violet was born in March, I had no formal maternity leave set up and even after a month when our babysitter started, she was only here 6 hours a week. But my first priority was growing baby Violet and helping my 6-year-old Laurel with the transition. For context, I should say that I had spent several years very privately heartsick over what appeared to be secondary infertility. I came to terms with it – in large part due to the support and love of this community when I “came out” about my feelings of failure – and then was shocked to learn a few months later that I was pregnant. So I feel acutely that this family of four is an immense gift and I want to be present in the moment.

So, during the weeks following Violet’s birth, I focused on my girls. And when Violet slept while Laurel was at school — which was a lot when she was a newborn! — I caught up on client work and blog posts and things. That was pretty much the way it went from March to June. It was delightful!

This summer the schedule has been equally lovely and my plan is to structure it like this during the school year. Our babysitters comes 4 days a week during elementary school hours. Then the rest of the time I’m off with the girls, and my husband is home one weekday with the girls. I work intensely during those hours and then stop the work clock when it’s time to go into family mode. I used to work most nights after Laurel went to bed when it was just three of us but Violet’s bedtime is really variable right now so I usually don’t work at night. Sometimes during the weekends, if I’m really on a deadline Jon will take the girls out for an adventure so I can work but otherwise I just roll with it. Somehow, everything seems to get done!

6) Do you have any regrets changing careers?

Not at all. I’m where I was meant to be. Also, I believe that every path brings you to the next. As I said, I needed to go through the academic process and get to the alleged highest point of achievement (Harvard/MIT) to prove to myself that I was an intelligent person. Sure, it would have been nice to not have to embark on a 10 year journey to answer that question, but that’s just how it worked out. I met so many amazing people along the way and learned an incredible amount about myself.

7) What are you working on next?

Well, I’m actually on the brink of change. Not much will change externally – meaning, I’ll continue with my blogs and such — but I’ll be doing more strategic consulting work. I can’t quite reveal the details right now but basically, I’m going to be doing great work but still on a flexible schedule that allows me lots of time with my family. Thank you, universe!

Also, I want to get back to thinking about fun things to explore on my life list. Oh, and planning a vacation with Jon, perhaps once I’m done nursing (probably next year)! I haven’t discussed him much here but he’s pretty much the most amazing husband in the history of the universe.

8) In terms on what is on your career plate, what do you do for love and what do you for money?

I would say that at this point I do what I love about 80% of the time and then the remaining 20% goes towards client work that is steady and lucrative but not that exciting. If all goes well with this new project I’ve got on the horizon, I’m hoping to knock that 20% closer to 0 in the coming year.

9) What advice would you give to Asian American college students who might have parents who only advocate “safe and traditional” career paths?

It’s so hard — I know! My parents were so bent on me being a doctor or lawyer (it’s always good to have in-house counsel, as my Dad used to say). And then later on in life when they saw my personality my Dad always thought I would be a great diplomat or the first Korean-American talk show host (there’s still time for the latter, right?). But my advice is to try to remain grounded and not be resentful – instead, work towards communication. Let your parents know what you’re trying and why it does or does not resonate for you. Some of the best experiences I had in college were internship programs where I would try something for a summer or winter break and learn that it was something I didn’t want to pursue. For example, being a White House intern helped me learn I didn’t want to go into politics. A mentored program at a law firm helped me learn I didn’t want to be a lawyer. And so forth. And I talked with my parents about all of these experiences. So that’s probably another reason why my Mom was so supportive when I left academia. She knew firsthand of my suffering and at the end of the day, she was my Mom – she wanted me to be happy. And even though she doesn’t completely understand what I do now (at least the blogging and consulting parts), I know she is happy that my work/life balance allows me to do other things that are important to traditional Korean moms – you know, like make adorable babies, be a loving wife, and get dinner on the table!

10) What advice would you like to share with new bloggers who want a great blog like BostonMamas?

My first piece of advice is to blog because of what you can give to it, not because of what you can get out of it. There’s so much more to blogging than free product samples or what have you. Think about what you love and want to share – start with an organic passion.

Second, immerse yourself in the community…really be a part of the community. Comment on other blogs, converse on Twitter, reach out, link to people whose work you love.

And finally, act with grace. Don’t link bait people, drop generic comments without having actually read any posts, badger people to follow you on Twitter, or generally act with the expectation of getting something from someone or with personal gain as the primary motivator.

Thanks so much for reaching out about this interview; it was an honor to share and reflect here!

 

Christine Koh is the founder and editor of Boston Mamas, the designer behind Posh Peacock, and writes a personal blog at Pop Discourse. She tweets about it all at @bostonmamas.

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Probing the Bangladeshi Diaspora

Nazli Kibria Probing the Bangadeshi Diaspora Bangaladesh stereotypesMy Mom Friend, Nazli Kibria,  from my middle daughter’s class turns out to be an expert on sociology who studies immigration issues particularly those of Asians. She teaches at Boston University and I’ve asked her for permission to repost some of her articles and she was kind enough to give me permission. This article goes hand in hand with tomorrow’s post on Bangladesh. While tomorrow’s post is an armchair travel “kid book club” and includes children’s literature, crafts and a recipe, her article gives more background on what appears to be an invisible immigrant group: the Bangadeshi.

I would really love to explore what it means to be “Asian in America,” which of course, is not a one size fits all description by any means. I hope that this essay on Bangladeshi immigrants helps us all to understand this group better.

Please feel free to leave any questions or comments. I can always ask Nazli to do a follow up post on this topic or on any of her other books.

For example, I was going to loan her Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom book and have her comment based on her book Becoming American: Second-Generation Chinese and Koreans (i.e. based on her research, is this extreme or typical parenting for Second-Generation Chinese or Korean Americans?). Just askin’.

 

This versus this for another blog post?!

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Kibria book finds immigrants face ignorance, misperceptions

BY SUSAN SELIGSON

For Bangladeshis in the United States, the unfavorable image of their country as one of poor, starving people is hurtful to their sense of national pride and distressing in its simplification, says Nazli Kibria, a CAS associate professor of sociology.

Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

As a Bangladeshi born in the United States to a family that divided its time between the eastern world and the West, Nazli Kibria has long been privy to Americans’ perceptions of her native country. Most of these perceptions, though not necessarily malicious, are wildly off the mark, she says.

In her new book, Muslims in Motion, Kibria, a College of Arts & Sciences associate professor  of  sociology, examines the Bangladeshi diaspora, telling the stories of challenges faced by Bangladeshis in the United States, Great Britain, the Gulf states of the Middle East, and Malaysia. Her study gives voice to cab drivers and university professors, shopkeepers and restaurant workers, and those who toil almost anonymously as part of the immigrant contract labor force to the world’s wealthiest states.

For Bangladeshis in the United States, the unfavorable image of their country solely as one of “poor, starving people, floods and famines” is hurtful “not only to their sense of national pride, but distressing in its simplification, in its ability to reduce the rich and complex realities of a country they know so well to a one-dimensional stereotype,” says Kibria.

Published by Rutgers University Press, Muslims in Motion is Kibria’s third book. She has previously written about Asian immigrants in Family Tightrope: The Changing Lives of Vietnamese Americans, and Becoming Asian American: Second-Generation Chinese and Korean Americans. Any author proceeds from Kibria’s new book, subtitled Islam and National Identity in the Bangladeshi Diaspora, will go to the Shah AMS Kibria Bangladesh-U.S. Foundation, a nonprofit educational foundation established in memory of her father, a politician, economist, and opposition activist who was killed in a grenade attack in Dhaka in 2005. Though a group of men were charged in the killing, they were never brought to justice. Kibria believes the charges were false, the result of a government cover-up.

 

“Bangladesh—where’s that?”

Kibria has been met with this and other equally ignorant remarks. “Bangladesh is kind of invisible in the U.S.,” says Kibria, who, like many of her fellow Bangladeshis, is sometimes mistaken for Hispanic. Or, in the eyes of many Westerners, Bangladeshis inhabit a limbo between East Indians and Pakistanis. Kibria has found that, culturally, Bangladeshis who mix with other South Asians tend to take on Indian tastes such as Bollywood, which is seen as frivolous in Bangladesh, or gravitate in another direction, toward Muslim communities. “They start to identify primarily as Muslims,” says Kibria. “But nationality, not religion, is most important to a Bangladeshi.” The now-embattled secularism of Bangladesh was initially laid out in its 1972 constitution, a year after the nation, formerly East Bengal, gained its independence from Pakistan.

Today, the low-lying, flood-prone nation—the size of New York state—has a population of 150 million, making it the eighth most populous country in the world, as well as the nation with the largest Muslim majority after Indonesia and Pakistan. But Kibria says that the predominantly Sunni culture of her homeland is laced with indigenous rituals, as well as Hindu and Buddhist belief, lending it the feel of a “folk” religion.

Kibria researched her book from 2001 to 2007, during which she interviewed 200 Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants and their families. Her subjects spoke about the impact of their migration on their family and community life, religious practice, and political views. Whenever possible Kibria attended community and family gatherings. In her book, which includes interviews with Bangladeshis in the Boston area, Kibria considers Bangladeshis’ place in the post-9/11 world, which has sparked greater interest in, and suspicion of, Islam.

“Even Bangladeshis who haven’t been here see the world as pre-9/11 and post-9/11,” says Kibria, who believes the national mood in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks raised stress levels of new Bangladeshi immigrants and those who were living here at the time.But Bangladeshis still choose to come, for one reason only: the dream of an American education for their children. “A lot of people don’t realize that America’s biggest resource is education,” says Kibria, who also points to an increase in Bangladeshi migration to other English-speaking nations such as Australia and Canada.

Kibria cites U.S. census figures showing that there were 5,800 foreign-born Bangladeshis here in 1980. That number steadily climbed, to 92, 237 in 2000. In 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, nearly 7,000 Bangladeshis became U.S. citizens, with the largest concentration in New York, followed by California, Florida, and Texas. While about 2,000 work in the professions, a large number of Bangladeshi immigrants are overqualified, notes  Kibria. “I know a doctor from Bangladesh who now works as a hotel clerk,” she says. While many immigrants get stuck in low-wage jobs, they remain here in the belief that their children will prosper. The downward class mobility Bangladeshis are likely to face in the United States takes its toll, causing depression and health problems, says Kibria. Americans aren’t likely to grasp the odd, split existence of many Bangladeshis, who live like paupers here and “like kings” when they return for periods to Bangladesh, she says.

While the Bangladesh economy is steadily growing, the country has faced periodic violence and unending political woes since it gained independence in 1971. In the ensuing decades Bangladesh has suffered the assassination of its first prime minister, devastating famine, a succession of military coups, and a gradual transition from secular to Islamic rule.

In her book, Kibria points to a new generation of what Kibria calls “Muslim-first”Bangladeshi immigrants, the children of “Bangladeshi-first” parents. But those who rush to stereotype this younger generation will learn from Kibria’s research that, as she writes, a “great variety of religious approach and experience prevails” among these Bangladeshis, whose devotion to Islam, far from being extremist, is more about adding meaning and purpose to their lives, in a way that works for them as individuals. “I believe in Allah and I try to live by the basic principles of honesty and compassion for people who are less fortunate…but I don’t cover my head,” says Tanya, a Bangladeshi American in her early twenties, who was interviewed in Kibria’s book and who lives among the large Asian immigrant population in New York’s Queens.

In her travels, Kibria found that Islam was the common thread among Bangladeshi migrants as diverse as the upper-middle class bank employee in the United States or the United Kingdom and the impoverished rural Bangladeshi who goes to Saudi Arabia on a labor contract. She hopes that those reading Muslims in Motion will gain a better understanding of Bangladeshis abroad in light of their young nation’s religion and tumultuous history.

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Korean BBQ Family Recipe for Kalbi plus Momofuku’s Recipe

Celebrity Chef Bad Boy David Chang Momofuku Korean American Famous JadeLuckClub David Chang, America’s Favorite Bad Boy Celebrity Asian American Chef

Give this man his own cooking show! I love this guy even though he’s arrogant and bad ass! Actually, that is what I love about him. My husband bought me his cookbook and I read it like a novel but didn’t actually cook out of it. His story about how pig headed he is and was is part of his charm. You have to give the man credit for getting up again and again to make his restaurants succeed. Now, he’s the toast of the New York restaurant scene. Not bad!

My husband (just giving credit where it is due) suggested that I post on Asian restaurants. I love home cooking and my favorite magazine for that is Saveur which also has a great website if you don’t want to subscribe. I actually have years of this magazine carefully saved just because I love reading it and even, on occasion, cook from it. So this is my first recipe post. It’s my Korean mother-in-law’s recipe for Kalbi/Bulgogi marinade (and she’s an excellent cook) coupled with Momofuku’s version. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this and it’s perfect for a summer BBQ.

Momofuku Kalbi Marinated Hanger Steak

David Chang Momofuku Kalbi Marinated Hanger Steak JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club Bad Boy Chefs Celebrating Asian American Creativity
Hanger Steak:
2 c apple juice
1/2 c light soy sauce
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
5-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fresly ground black pepper
Four 8 oz hanger steaks1. Make the marinade: combine all of the ingredients in al arge freezer back and mix to combine. Add the steaks and marinate for 24 hours.
2. Grill for 6-10 minutes total for medium rare, let them rest for at least 5 minutes.
3. Cut against the grain.

For ssam: serve with rice on bibb lettuce with Maldon and sauces

Ginger Scallion Sauce:
2.5 c thinly sliced scallions (1-2 large bunches)
1/2 c finely mined peeled fresh ginger
1/4 c neutral oil
1.5 tsp light soy sauce
3/4 tsp sherry vinegar
3/4 tsp kosher salt or more to taste.

Momofuku David Chang best Korean Kalbi BBQ recipe for marinade JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club Celebrating Asian American Creativity

My  Korean Mother-in-Law’s Kalbi Marinade

1/2 cup soy sauce (we use Kikoman’s and the brand of soy sauce does make a difference!)

2 tablespoons of finely minced garlic (use fresh and not from a jar please! Mash garlic with flat of a knife and then mince finely)

1/4 cup finely minced green onions (also called scallions). My mother-in-law julienne’s each green onion (after washing carefully to remove dirt) into about 4 long lengths, then minces this finely.

1-2 tablespoons sesame seed oil (the Asian variety. It should be nut brown and smell fragrant)

2 tablespoons sugar (white granulated is fine)

3 pounds of beef

Kalbi BBQ recipe Momofuku JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

1) Wash beef strips, trim fat and dry.

2) Sprinkle sugar on beef — an additional 6 tablespoons and mix thoroughly.

3) Combine rest of marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the liquid from the beef in sugar.

4) Dip beef into marinade one at a time and lay in a pan.

5) Leave to marinade for an hour or more refrigerated.

6) Cook on a grill until done. Serve with rice.

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Delightful Picture Book, Jojo Eats Dim Sum by James Kye, Makes Me Hungry for More

Jo Jo Eats Dim Sum James Kye JadeLuckClub Kidlit Picture book Asian Food Children's book Jojo Eats Dim Sum by James Kye [picture book, ages 3-9]

This  delightful picture book reminds me of Lauren Child’s charming collage illustrations in her Charlie and Lola series. Like Charlie and Lola, James Kye mixes cartoon illustrations with photographs to stunning effect. The characters are drawn as cartoons and manage to convey their very big personalities.  Jo Jo is Caucasian but her favorite meal in the world is Dim Sum. Her little brother Ollie prefers pea soup. Jo Jo’s parents are pretty relaxed which is a nice contrast to the Chinese waiter who manages to be both aloof and efficient like all Chinese waiters that I’ve ever met are.

I remember dragging my kids to Dim Sum in Boston’s Chinatown. My husband and I had scouted out all the restaurants pre-kids before discovering our favorite one, China Pearl. They have two floors of rolly cart action, and the sing song hustle and bustle of the  huge restaurant nicely drowns out any bad behavior of my children including whining that they don’t like the food. Fast forward a few years and  you will now find my children chanting a little ditty titled: Dim Sum Yum Yum. I’m not sure how this turnaround happened, but I don’t argue. Going to Dim Sum is one of our favorite weekend activities. We like how it’s so fast. One minute you are starving and15 minutes later, you are stuffed to the gills.

It was precisely the food that Kye featured that turned my kids around on Dim Sum. Steamed pork buns, a.k.a. Cha Xiu Bao, is the ONLY thing my 6-year-old son will eat there if you don’t count the noodles that I have to scrape off of the “offensive” meat filling. My girls and husband love Siu Mai (the shrimp dumplings) , the noodles, and the mango pudding. But it is only I that can eat the chicken feet that Jojo also adores. She earns the admiration and astonishment of her otherwise brusque push cart lady by ordering it and relishing it. Me? I get only disgusted looks by my kids and the occasional, “Eeeuh, that’s so gross.”

“More for me!” is my reply! I should eat with Jojo instead. In fact, this book gives you the feeling of dining with them. It turns out that both My husband and I and Jojo and her parents enjoy Har Gao. The only downside is this:  it makes you really, really hungry for Dim Sum. In fact, I have to sign off now because I have to rouse my kids to get them out the door. If we arrive later than 10:30 a.m., our Dim Sum restaurant is packed!

This is James Kye’s first book, and truly, I am hungry for more. It appears that Jojo could be a series as she is an adventurous eater! Stay tuned for more!

p.s. Other Asian American picture books about Asian food that we like include:

p.p.s. What is your favorite Asian American picture book with a food theme? Please share and I’ll add to this list!

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The Best Asian American Athletes Ever … Where Are They Now? (#4-6 of 26)

Vicki Manolo Draves Olympic Diver Best Asian American Athletes JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

I’ve never heard of Gold Medal Olympian Diver Vicki Manolo Draves, so it’s been an education for me to post on the Best Asian American Athletes Ever and to see what happens to them when they retire. I find their stories unique and fascinating starting from whence they came, to the barriers they broke down to achieve in their sport. Eugene Chung was the first Asian American to be drafted first round into the NFL, and Ron Darling uses his fame for both acting and doing good with his non-profit, Pitchin for A Good Cause. I hope you find these stories as inspiring as I do. Here are the next three; I am going alphabetically by last name.

p.s. The first 3 Asian American Athletes are here (Benny Agbayani/baseball, Michael Chang/tennis, and Amy Chow/gymnastics).

  • Eugene Chung, football

Eugene Yon Chung (born June 14, 1969 in Prince George’s County, Maryland) was a former American football offensive lineman in the National Football League from 1992 to 1997. He is currently the Assistant to the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.

When the New England Patriots drafted him 13th overall out of Virginia Tech in the 1992 NFL Draft, Chung became the first Korean American player to be drafted in the first round of an NFL draft. He went on to play three seasons with New England. Chung was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1995 NFL Expansion Draft. He played one season with the Jaguars and one with the Indianapolis Colts before retiring. Wikipedia

 

Eugene had a strong work ethic early in his career.  “That was a big thing that Bob Herb instilled in all of us,” said Brent Newell, a 1988 Oakton graduate and fellow lineman alongside of Chung. “[Herb] was probably one of the first guys that stressed weight-training and offseason conditioning. [Eugene] was one of the disciples of that and that made him a Div. 1A player.”

Chung was selected for the Football Writers Association All-America team after his senior season at Virginia Tech. He was the first offensive lineman to win first-team All-America honors. He started every game at tackle for the Hokies in 1991 allowing just one sack in 730 plays. He was honored as the National Lineman of the Year by the Washington Gridiron Club. He played with the New England Patriots in the NFL from 1992-1994 before playing brief stints with Jacksonville, Indianapolis, and Kansas City.

“Chung, whose mother died when he was young and whose father passed away days before the New England Patriots made him the 13th overall pick in the 1992 NFL draft (first Asian player to be selected in the first round), championed a defense that helped Oakton fight back from a winless streak that spanned over both the 1985 and in 1986 seasons.” Great Falls Connection

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  • Ron Darling, baseball

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii to a Hawaiian-Chinese mother and French-Canadian father, Darling speaks fluent Chinese and French. After growing up in Millbury, Massachusetts, he attended St John’s High School in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and later Yale University, managing a dual major in French and Southeast Asian history. He was set to graduate in December 1982, but was drafted in June 1981. He  was a  former right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the New York MetsOakland Athletics and Montreal Expos.

Since 2000, Darling has been active in television. He worked as a broadcaster for the A’s, had a FOX show called Baseball Today, and appeared on The Best Damn Sports Show Period. He also provided baseball analysis for the YES NetworkFox Sports Net and, in 2004, CSTV. (WikipediaDarling had small roles in the films Shallow Hal and The Day After Tomorrow. He also played himself in Mr. 3000. In 2007, Darling was a color analyst for TBS‘ coverage of the 2007 MLB playoffs. He was paired with play-by-play man Dick Stockton. As of 2008, he provides commentary for the network’s regular-season coverage, paired with Chip Caray. During the playoffs, he joined Caray’s other regular partner, Buck Martinez.

Because of their popularity as professional athletes, Darling along with Cohen and Hernandez created a website (www.pitchinforagoodcause.org), where the net profit from the merchandise sold by the website goes to charity; specifically, the Cobble Hill Health Center, Juvenile Diabetes Research Center, and The Danbury Women’s Center. His versatility as athlete, actor, sports newscaster, and philanthropist make Ron Darling a “Renaissance Man” role model.

Ron Darling Baseball Best Asian American Athlete JadeLuckClub Where are they now?

  • Vicki Manolo Draves, diving

Vicki Manolo Draves was an Olympic diver who won gold medals for the United States in both platform and springboard diving during the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. Victoria Manalo was born to a Filipino father and an English mother. Her parents met and married in San Francisco.

She couldn’t afford to take swimming lessons until she was 10 years old where it cost five cents admission to a pool in the Mission district. It was there that Manalo met diving coach Phil Patterson, who convinced Draves to try her luck as a diver and discovered that she was a natural. She graduated from high school in 1942 and took a temporary civil service job in the port surgeon’s office to add to her family’s meager income. With Patterson in the military during World War II, Victoria looked for a diving coach and met her future husband, Lyle Draves, whom she married in 1946.

Prior to competing in the 1948 Olympics, Draves won five United States diving championships. Draves turned professional after the Olympics, joining Larry Crosby’s “Rhapsody in Swimtime” aquatic show at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1948. She went on to appear in other shows and toured the U.S. and Europe with Buster Crabbe’s “Aqua Parade.” She was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1969.

In October 2006, a two-acre park in San Francisco was named Victoria Manalo Draves Park in her honor. Draves and her husband lived in Palm Springs, California until her death on April 11, 2010, aged 85, from pancreatic cancer aggravated by pneumonia.  Wikipedia

Vicki Manolo Draves Olympic Diver Best Asian American Athletes JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

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Meet My Friend: Artist Vani Chandra Sayeed

Best Asian American Artist Vani Chandra Sayeed JadeLuckClub Jade Luck ClubVani is my friend from exercise class. Once we met, we starting bumping into each other constantly … like those early days of Carrie Bradshaw and Big. She’s multi talented: interior designer, artist and jewelry designer. It’s time everyone knew about her! She says her work as an Interior Designer supports her art. I have a feeling that this will change soon!

Autumn Day Walk artist Vani Chandra Sayeed JadeLuckClub Jade Luck ClubAutumn Day Walk

Untitled Vani Chandra Sayeed Artist JadeLuckClub Asian American Artists BestUntitled

Turquoise Kaman Lotus Necklace Vani Chandra Sayeed Artist Jewelry JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club Celebrating Best Asian American Creativity ArtistsTurquoise Kamal

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Celebrating 4th of July with Asian American KidLit

american Wei celebrating 4th of july 4 fourth with Asian American picture books kidlit JadeLuckClub Jade Luck ClubHappy Birthday United States on this 4th of July!  To celebrate, I selected two picture books with an Asian twist.  Both families are immigrants from China.  The children in each book, like all children of immigrants, straddle two worlds trying to be “more-American-like-their-friends” while immersed in the culture and traditions from their home country. But what is lovely in both these books is an acceptance that there is no one correct way to celebrate being an American.   This is a homage to the United States of America, the great melting pot nation.  Happy Birthday!

The American Wei by Marion Hess Pomeranc

It’s a big day for Wei Fong.  Today, he and his family will become United States citizens!  And the day is especially lucky because he has his very first loose tooth and he’s hoping the Tooth Fairy will come tonight.  Calamity strikes when Wei loses his tooth in front of the Federal Courthouse where they are to be sworn in.  Luckily people of all race and nationality pitch in to help Wei find his tooth and they make just in time to their ceremony.  It was the best day ever!  [picture book, ages 4-8]

Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong

When her parents cook Chinese food to sell at their store on the 4th of July, the little 2nd generation Chinese American girl thinks that her parents “don’t get it.”  No one wants Chinese food on the 4th of July, right?  A simple story that depicts perfectly the straddling of two worlds that 2nd generation children feel and, as it turns out, there are all kinds of ways to celebrate America’s birthday!   [picture book, ages 2-6]

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