We had the good fortune of connecting with Alina Chau and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alina, how does your business help the community?
As an Asian American and a first-generation immigrant, I love sharing my culture and stories through visual storytelling. It’s heartbreaking to see the act of hatred and violence on the news. In a community or society, while not everyone could agree or relate to particular social-political agendas, we could always connect through daily human experiences.
Visual storytelling is an effective and gentle form of communication for people to overcome differences, misunderstandings, and social barriers and share life experiences from a very human perspective. I love creating fun and entertaining content that celebrates diversity. And often, small stories could make a big difference. Just knowing the person who seems to be very different from you on the outside, maybe going through a similar struggle or triumph; sharing similar like or dislike, and have a good and bad day just like you – helps us connect. It helps us be more aware and kind towards each other.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
When I quit a well paid day job and start an independent art career, the first few years are tough. With no steady paycheck coming in and no business experince. It was an uphill learning curve. I try several different kinds of business models, all failed. I am losing money and making negative. Pretty much back to poor college kid kind of ramen and can food lifestyle. Tons of anxiety and nightmares, but I keep trying and exploring. A huge part of this process is self-exploration as an artist. When you are on your own, no boss or company gives you assignments and tells you what to do. You have to figure out who you are as an artist, what you like and don’t like, what you are good at and not good at. And you have to be honest and trust your instinct. After many trials and errors, I finally discover my strength and weakness as an artist and what I like and don’t like to do from a business perspective. WhenI figure out my true passion is in children’s book publishing, things slowly fall on the track, and my business starts to grow.
I discover while I love drawing and painting, I love storytelling most. Making books is perfect for me since I get to tell a story through pictures. I learn to find my voice and discover subject matters that are close and important to me. It’s a continuous self-exploration journey. I want my brand to keep evolving and stay relevant with our time and the community.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Day 1 – Venice and Santa Monica. I will start from the Venice Cannel and introduce them to my ducking friends, and walk along the broad walk to Santa Monica, and swing by the coffee shop or dessert shop along the way. End the day visiting Getty Villa.
Day 2 – Visit the Film Academy, Los Angeles County Art Museum and Le Brea Tar Pits area. Then, go to the Grove Farmers’ Market to eat and shop. Mostly to eat!!
Day 3 – Downtown LA tour. Dim sum at Golden Dragon in Chinatown. Little Tokyo for the manga, kawaii toys, and desserts. Walk around The Broad, Grand Central Market, Bradbury building… When we get tired, we can go chill at The Last Bookstore.
Day 4 – Solvang, Ostrich farm, and Santa Barbara. Solvang, cute unique town, tons of tasty chocolate and ice cream shops and bakeries, and historic sites. On the way back to town, swing by Santa Barbara, checking out the mission and dinner.
Day 5 – San Juan Capistrano area and San Clemente, super cute antique shop, garden shops, and tasty food. This is my favorite summer day tip spot.
Day 6 -Underwood Farm. Love that farm, cute farm animals, piglet racings, and pick your own fruits from the farm! On the way home, we swing by William S. Hart Regional Park in Newhall. They have a cute historical area and many bison.
Day 7 – Huntington garden and walk around old town Pasadena
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
It’s tough to narrow to just one person because many friends in my life always support and encourage me. If I have to pick one, I will choose my literary agent, Marietta Zacker. I immigrate to the US in my twenties, so some of my stories may not always be 100% relatable to the general public or mainstream American culture. Sometimes when I don’t feel confident whether my stories would be marketable or works, Marietta would encourage me to go with my instinct and tell the stories I want to tell… which it’s a lot of trust and fate. The support helps me overcome my insecurity as a writer, especially for someone with linguistic “challenges” and slightly “complicated” multicultural identities.
Photo by A Pocket of Time Photography