"Growing up, we were always on the go. My family and I lived in five countries and traveled a lot. While I was extremely lucky to be able to see so much of the world and have incredible experiences at such a young age, going through constant change – new country, new school, new culture, new people every few years wasn’t easy.
Having no permanent home, constantly adapting to different environments, AND being of a mixed ethnicity, made answering the question “where are you from?” nearly impossible. These moments of identity crises slowly became more and more frequent.
The one constant that stayed with me through every change was my goal of becoming an architect. Since the age of 7, I was adamant about following my dad’s footsteps and taking over his architecture business.
I studied it at the university level and worked for almost two years at one of the largest architecture firms in the world. I was on a crystal clear path, a straight shot to my goal.
But then, something shifted.
I suddenly fell out of love with what I was doing and began to question everything. I realized I had made most of my past decisions based on other people’s expectations and had never given myself the option of thinking outside my strict plan (and when I say plan, I mean I literally had a PDF of my next 5 years planned out).
So out of this turmoil and confusion, came the need to be re-inspired, which is when Be Real was born."
"Not easy. I’ve never been good at doing that.
Right now I don’t have a lot of free time so, I am constantly feeling guilty when I do take time to relax, unwind or hang out with friends because there is always more work I could be doing.
I think the most important thing is to be present. So, when I am with my friends and family I make an effort to really be with them, and when I’m working I’m in total work mode."
As for stepping outside the flow to enjoy what I’ve done and accomplished, I reflect a lot. Usually that’s through writing or talking "life" with my little brother, who is also my roommate and my best friend."
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"I grew up in a small town in South Carolina. Growing up my sister and I learned to play the piano and other various instruments at an early age so there was always a lot of music around our house.
My parents had so much love for country music, which at the time was the good country music of the past - Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Alabama, and so on. Humor has also been a huge part of my life; I've grown up with lots of laughter and playfulness my whole life.
We’ve always spent a lot of time at the coast and in the low country of South Carolina so I have a deep attraction to that landscape and coastal style in general.
In college I studied English at UNC. It seemed like a good fit as I loved to read and entertained the idea of writing as well teaching because I actually enjoyed studying literature so much.
I also ended up doing a 2 year program in interior design after graduating with a BA in English. And that’s when I found what I was most passionate about. I interned for an interior designer in Charlotte and also worked a part-time job with a company that specialized in custom draperies.
I’m quite passionate about fabric design and those two experiences were probably where I started to develop my taste for it."
"My first job out of college was actually working at Nordstrom. Having always loved fashion, it seemed like a good start and a gateway to other creative opportunities.
They have a really great visual team there and that was the first time I realized my interest and the possibility of a job that centered around styling."
"I did see myself going down the path of interior design and styling to a certain extent, but until I met my husband Chris, who is my other half at our graphic design studio, Good South, graphics weren’t really in my mind.
I had never thought too much about graphic design and I didn’t even realize "creative directing" was a thing until I met him. We got married and shortly thereafter we started working together in design.
He has influenced and taught me a lot about graphic design and typography over the years and it’s a become a big part of our lives. Now, we are transitioning into combining more of both of our backgrounds by offering more styling, interior design and consultation within our studio.
Side-note, we also have a letterpress printer.
Chris prints our own design jobs as well as offering printing for other designers. We both have a great love for the manual ways of the past and doing things with our hands. So, this is a great 'change of pace' from the day-to-day routine graphic design life of looking at a computer screen."
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"It’s hard to know when a feature will come, and even harder to know if it’ll actually produce new readers and followers. But what IS great about being featured is, it helps you realized that,
“hey, other people doing awesome things think I’m doing awesome things!"
It can really be encouraging to keep you going! It’s very unlikely that one single feature will sky rocket your brand or blog into stardom, but if you’ve spent a good amount of time crafting brilliant content and continue to do so after being featured, it’ll absolutely propel your brand to great places!"
"Growing up, I was always interested in all things creative. I spent my school days in the art room and my summer’s making crafts, rearranging my bedroom, cooking dinner for my family and singing with friends. My parent’s are both self-employed and have always encouraged me to pursue what brings me joy.
I studied Video Broadcasting and Film Photography in college. While I am certainly glad I went to college for some of the “life experience”, I do not feel it was necessary to learning what I do for a living.
Right out of college I had a handful of jobs - working at a local coffee shop, doing graphic design odds and ends for my church, and photographing families and seniors. Eventually, my photography work required more of my time and I was able to let the other jobs to go to focus on building my photography business."
"My husband, T.J., started walk in love, back in 2005 as a way to raise money for a mission trip to Russia.
He sold 100 royal blue tees with the phrase “walk in love.” printed on them, and it slowly grew from there. Today, walk in love is dedicated to selling well-designed, high quality t-shirts with a positive and inspiring message.
That message is a reminder to imitate God by loving others every chance we get - no strings attached. We believe that Jesus came and showed us how to be that message..."
"I’m a second-generation Asian American and the only child of two very hard-working, loving parents. My mom and dad immigrated from Hong Kong to come study in the U.S.
They both graduated with their Associate's Degrees and worked really hard to give me experiences and education they were never able to have. I can easily rattle off a dozen kinds of lessons I tried as a kid.
I played on a recreational soccer team, basketball team, swam (basically ever since I could walk), figure skated, played piano, flute and more. My parents sacrificed a lot to let me try everything and make mistakes to find my calling.
They never graduated from a four year college, but they were able to help me grow and support me through NYU.
Most of my cousins pursued popular Asian American careers in science and business, but I knew from an early age that I wanted to write. My parents still pressured me to study math, but I later came to realize that this wasn’t because they wanted to dissuade me from pursuing my dreams.
This was because they knew that if I kept running away from things I didn’t like, I would never learn to be good at them. Plus, having a well rounded education is important."
"I’m a Digital Storyteller, a writer and a photographer. I have been working in the digital marketing space for over 4 years. I’ve worked for companies in retail, finance and tech.
My ultimate goal is to use social media to create change for good.
In my spare time I love to snowboard - I’ve traveled to 14 mountains in over 3 countries and counting (You can check out some of my adventures on IG at #withlovedcshreds)!"
"So, I studied Journalism and Psychology.
I actually didn’t find a full-time job right out of college. I took an internship at JP Morgan for half a year.
I worked in the events department for the Private Bank, helping arrange meetings for bankers. It was a very different type of job than I was looking for and certainly not glamorous.
I was manning the front desk, opening the door for clients and walking them to their rooms. But I was able to rub shoulders with a lot of successful individuals from all over the world and that, in itself, was an invaluable learning experience."
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"I’ve always had tendencies towards social contribution. I've a strong community service record, and throughout high school, I was heavily involved in Key Club (a community service club), the president of Global Ravens (an international club with an eye towards development), and fundraised nearly $50,000 for the American Cancer Society with my 12 person relay team for the race Hood to Coast.
Even when I was little, my cousins, sisters, and I would hold lemonade stands at the beach and donate half the funds to the Red Cross for hurricane victims. I’m a firm believer in hard work, but I also think that hard work shouldn’t just have a pay off for yourself, it should ultimately benefit others as well."
"Growing up, I was extremely blessed to be surrounded by a supportive, loving, and, financially well-off family. When my dad was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, in 2007, I was 9 years old and my family had to come together.
My grandparents stayed with my two older sisters (who were then in high school) and I for about 9 months while my dad and mom were out in Little Rock, Arkansas for my dad’s treatment at the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy.
My grandparents made sure we had everything we needed and more, and we maintained a strong connection with my parents, despite only seeing them a few times a year. When I was a freshman in high school, my parents again went back to MIRT for about 4 months, but, besides that, they’ve been home more often than not.
I've realized over the years how generous my parents and grandparents have been and how much they instilled that value in me.
I’ve also been told I’m an empathetic person, which I believe, so it makes sense that I would naturally want to help others if I had a talent that enabled me to do so."
"I began noticing crystal jewelry in stores like Free People and Urban Outfitters, and I knew I could make similar pieces with the hundreds of stones I had accumulated over the years from gem mining in the NC mountains.
I began experimenting with making jewelry, and once I decided I should sell some, I knew I didn’t want to just make a profit from all the time I put in. Donating to the Myeloma Institute was the first idea that came to mind, because they’ve had such an incredible impact on my family by keeping my dad alive and well.
I went to my local jewelry store (which is now sadly closed) with a bag full of crystals and had one of the women there show me how to do some simple wire wrapping.
From that point on, I taught myself everything else, simply by buying the right materials and messing around. I mentioned to friends I wanted to launch an Etsy shop, and one of my buddies pointed me in the direction of Squarespace. I created the website using one of their templates, and then began uploading products!
When I started, I had a few goals in mind with starting Crystals4Cancer: to share my art and stay motivated to make jewelry, clear out the hundreds of rocks collecting dust in my garage, dedicate my time to a worthwhile cause, and ultimately to make an impact at MIRT."
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"Growing up was an overall blessing for me. I was blessed to have a strong father, loving mother, and a role model brother. I had a great support system, but that did not mean I did not go through a lot of hardship.
Life outside the family was much different though. I had been sheltered and protected from many of the world's problems.
When I was finally exposed to it, it was hard for me to handle. But my faith in God and the safety net of my family helped me through all the twists and turns thrown my way."
"I am trying to study biochemistry, then move into something in the medical field to help people's health problems. I want to eventually specialize in finding a cure for cancer. It is a big task but I am working to try and learn all the necessary skills so I can achieve it."
"God has put a burning desire in me to succeed in both academics and athletics. Things have not always gone the way I expected but the the desire is still there. That desire was given to me by God, so I must pursue it for Him, if no one else."
"I always saw myself attempting to play college basketball. There was a love I have for the game that I had from a very early age.
I love all parts of the game, defense, offense, rebounding, steals, blocks, jump shots, drives and even dunks. Everything is beautiful in this game and, thankfully, I was finally able to see that when I was deciding between football and basketball. I was in middle school then.
This was/still is the right path for me and I don't regret any of the decisions that have been made on this path. I am thankful for all God has done and all He will do as long as I am chasing this dream!"
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"...playing around on Facebook all day?! Nah, it's really not though."
"So I work in social media marketing. That may sound confusing to a lot of people since it's such a broad term and people are still getting used to it as a career path! Basically any effort that you were to see a brand, celebrity, or business push to social media channels, I am the one who creates that idea and executes it. Depending on the job it may just literally be me doing all of it or I will have a team of people to work with."
"Haha! I am constantly explaining, in long detail, what I do to people. Literally, all the time. The most common response I get from people is “So, you basically sit on Facebook all day.” Depending on who it is and how much I feel like explaining, I may just tell them yes. I think a lot of people think its a joke job, but I can promise you it’s not. Try being a community manager for a day. You will probably not be able to handle it. I am NEVER off the clock."
"So on a regular basis, I manage 15+ accounts as well as create strategies and do short term project for multiple accounts and businesses at a time. Yes, it's a lot of work."
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"I don’t know about the world, but what I hope to change about Silicon Valley is, its attitude towards people of underrepresented backgrounds in tech. There are still so many injustices in the tech industry that affect the mobility and comfort of people who are not “majority,” aka a white or Asian male.
There is still so much unconscious bias. So many people who treat diversity as if it’s at the expense of talent, not a source of it. I hope that the blog I've created helps people visualize success in Silicon Valley in more ways than what's represented right now."
"Women of Silicon Valley (Facebook | Medium | Twitter) is a project modeled after Brandon Stanton’s “Humans of New York.” Much like HONY, I share mini snapshots and quotes from interesting people, with a specific focus on the cool women in tech.
My mission is to increase the visibility of accomplished women, especially those of color and LGBTQ+ orgins, in an industry notorious for its lack of diversity.
Some of our past features include Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou, Google’s Security Princess Parisa Tabriz, and CODE2040’s Founder Laura Weidman-Powers. Thanks to their interviews, the blog has grown immensely over the past year to over 30k followers and been covered in publications including Buzzfeed, ABC, CNNMoney, HuffingtonPost, Mic, Tech.co and Italy's Corriere della Sera, as well as received public support from Chelsea Clinton and Melinda Gates."
"So, I grew up in the conservative suburb of Colleyville in Dallas, TX. It’s a nice place to raise a family, but I always felt uncomfortable in my own skin there because of the homogeneity – racial, religious, political, socioeconomic. Being a Vietnamese-Filipino girl who didn’t want to rush a sorority or join a church youth group or spend my Friday nights watching my high school’s mediocre football team didn’t help to make conformity easy.
My family went to California every year to visit relatives, and I loved it there. It was the first place I felt at home. So I made it my mission to head out west for college, and my admission to Stanford opened the door out of Texas. Of course, as soon as I decided to major in Computer Science (CS) I became part of the “minority” again as a woman in tech, ha!
I'm now in my last quarter at Stanford, I’m very grateful and sentimental for my time here. I know there are people who question the value of a college education, probably for good reason considering tuition prices. Furthermore, I do believe you can get the same quality of classes offered here, anywhere else, but, for me, what’s made Stanford special is the access to social capital. For being so smart and talented, the people here are very approachable, and Stanford really tries to break down the traditional hierarchy between beginner and expert."
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"growing up was pretty typical kid stuff - skateboarding, hating school, hanging out with friends and just being outside. my friends and i would make stupid home videos (that we found hilarious), so i guess that's the first experience with any kind of visual art i had early on.
i started shooting film with my buddies, just as a way to hang out. i never had any intention of getting into photography in a significant way. it was just a good way to hang out with my buds.
college was not my thing, so i never declared a major. i only went because i knew that's what i had to do. eventually i got tired of school, and started working at a graveyard, til' this day, that's one of the best jobs I've ever had.
"i grew up in a house, where i learned the value of good work ethic. i’ve taken that into all my jobs, but if I’m not interested, I’m really a completely average employee. it made me realize i needed to get into a field that made me happy.
as a kid, i was just focused on what was happening in the moment. that may be why i love photography.
so, for me, the idea of working with coffee and photographs, is as good as it gets. that makes me happy, so i do it. that's what you gotta do, man. if you love what you do and who you work with, you’ll bust your ass to make it better, and that's what I’ve found working in coffee and photography."
"i never considered photography as a path. i thought i was gonna' get married and work a 9-5 and just exist, but, the more i started shooting, the more i enjoyed it.
i continued to grow, and, thank the good Lord that photography happened, because it saved my life. for real, saved me. i would have been MISERABLE if i went down the 9-5 route."
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"The rebellious idea of a startup formed my last year of college. At the time it was created out of a boredom for the mechanical engineering major in which I had so foolishly chosen. I had no idea what it was that I was doing (and frankly, I still don't).
At the time, I felt like, God himself had come down, slapped me across the face, and left me with a challenge. A challenge to not live life continuing to go through the motions. So, I turned to entrepreneurship not only out of shear desperation but also a need to create something real, for myself.
The barebones idea was formed around a lack luster name, InspireMe, and the goal of using t-shirts to..."
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Hey You! While we are glad you found this, we have one thing to ask of you...
Get out and create, NOW. We hope that you use our stories to help you along the way to find that inner creative.
To push the world forward isn't a one man show, it'll take all of us dreamers, no matter your skill-set.
Just be daring, just be different, just #CreateBoldly.