We had the good fortune of connecting with Mindy Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mindy, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
The keyword for my brand is “HAPPY”. As HAPPYMINDERS, how can I not be happy?! haha. The truth is, I think about what makes me happy and put that into my creations because there are so many times that I am not. Being human can be beautiful but also painful. There are SO many things that make me happy, but there are SOOO many things that make me sad, angry, and even hopeless. BUT my hope is that I can be “happy” and also accept the sad, the angry, and the ugly too. Being happy doesn’t mean you ignore the darkness. So, what makes me happy today? I am most happy today when I can be happy for others. After going through many “WHY ME” moments and feeling even more unseen when others seem to be doing better than me, finding things to keep myself happy to distract myself from those feelings did not last very long. I can keep myself happy in my happy little cave, but I will have to come out one day, and then what? Letting go of your dreams (while witnessing other people living your dream) to reimagine new ones can be painful but also freeing. You are not stuck with ONE dream, there are so many paths beyond our imagination. When I realized this, I was able to root and cheer people on. Celebrating others fulfill their dreams became so so sweet because there is SOOO much room for ALL of us to dream and live it out.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Being a mom, especially to a neurodiverse child, continues to shape my art. When I see that my child is expected to work as hard as he can to fit into society like everyone else, it makes me want to help build a more inclusive society that has a more meaningful place for someone like my son. Therefore, a lot of the concepts and messaging behind my art deals with inclusivity, love, acceptance, and hope. Being a mom by day, and artist by night has been challenging. There is never enough time, but the time I do get is more precious than ever and I am SO grateful for it. In those golden hours, there is no time to question myself, but to create and share! Done is better than perfection.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
YES! As a LA native, born and raised in Koreatown, I can’t imagine a day without eating Korean food while you are in LA. This is what my perfect day in LA will look like (if Covid did not exist). A morning hike/walk through FERN DELL trail in Griffith Park. On the way back, stop by The Trails Restaurant for a quick bite. Drive to SkyLight Book Store in Los Feliz and visit the children’s book section. Then drive down to Koreatown for lunch at Hangari Kalgooksoo, a hand-cut noodle restaurant. Afterward, check out the Korean market at the California Market Plaza and buy some Korean snacks and pastries. Head East to Downtown LA and check out the murals in the Arts District, walk around Little Tokyo Shops and get some Boba at Milk+T Boba Shop. Finally, finish the night off with some Tacos at King Taco in Pico-Union.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate my shoutout to my former colleagues, teaching artists, volunteers from Inner-City Arts (from 2010-2019). Their passion to serve Los Angeles youth through art is one of the most beautiful demonstrations of LOVE I’ve seen. They not only inspired me but helped shape my dream over and over again.