We had the good fortune of connecting with Victoria Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Victoria, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Out of everything I was involved with when I was young, drawing and painting classes were where I thrived. From the early beginnings of learning fine art with paper and pencil to now, where I am primarily focused on digital art, I always loved the process of brainstorming, researching, experimenting, and executing a creative idea that I had.
I began to pursue an artistic career in graphic design when I became more exposed to the different digital tools and software in college. Design was also an exciting challenge in terms of creating something within given parameters. It provided just enough structure for me to push myself to always find a solution, but plenty of freedom to explore and try out different ways to get there.
While still working as a senior designer in the corporate world, I’ve started a side small business as a personal creative outlet. I started Ingredients of Trust by creating 30 different illustrated ingredients and writing unique personalities for each one. For example, Lemon is the life of the party holding balloons with a big zesty smile, and Salt is judge wearing a white wig (salt grains!), and is an honest and fair character. I turned them into an affirmation card deck about self-love and self-care, and formed Say Buns LLC to expand on the brand!
I can’t imagine doing anything except a creative career, because the creative process is just so fulfilling to visually bring something to life. I am also always looking for opportunities to use design for something greater than just “making things look good”, and that is what fuels and drives me as a small business owner creating products to help people feel good about themselves.
What should our readers know about your business?
Say Buns LLC is a company that is committed to cooking up the cute. We specialize in our self-love card deck, stickers, and handmade gifts that echo our vision for each person to recognize their own strengths, rally around each other’s, and build a better world, together.
Ingredients of Trust is our flagship product line that is a collection of illustrated ingredients with unique personalities in the form of a card deck. You can use it by discovering your ingredient persona, much like your zodiac sign or a personality test, and celebrate all the special ingredients that make you, you! It is all about active self-reflection in order to help you build trust and relationships with others in a fun and digestible way.
I am incredibly proud of the mission for positive communication behind Ingredients of Trust, as well as the art and design developed – there are 30 different custom illustrated ingredients, with more to come! As a maker, I’ve also made each ingredient available as stickers, handmade pins, and resin coasters for you to rep your favorites. Many of the handmade goods are going to be limited and only available at our local pop-ups, but we hope to be able to grow and scale the fun illustrations to more products in the future.
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.
I was born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, and am most familiar with the San Gabriel Valley, downtown, and Orange County areas. As a big foodie (hence all the food illustrations!), eating and drinking would really dictate where we would go on our week-long adventure! Some of my favorites include… Food: Din Tai Fung, Sugarfish, Kazunori, In-N-Out, taco trucks, KBBQ, dim sum, acai bowls
Beverages: Blue Bottle Coffee, boba from SGV
Dessert: Lady M, Porto’s, The Pie Hole
Special occasion: n/naka, Providence
Beyond the food, I’d also suggest some more low-key days to some of the beautiful art museums and gardens – the Getty, the Norton Simon, and the Huntington Library. A visit to Little Tokyo and Koreatown are also a must! Additionally, we’d venture out to Orange County for a different vibe, which also means Disneyland, South Coast Plaza, and Newport Beach.
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?
So much credit deserves to be given to those who have been on this journey with me. My family, boyfriend, and friends were frequently the inspiration behind many of the ingredient characters you see in the deck, and they have provided unwavering support in encouraging me to pursue my dreams.
My classmates and faculty at USC’s Iovine and Young Master’s program in Integrated Design, Business, and Technology were with me from the very beginning when the ideas for Ingredients of Trust started forming. They were critical in providing valuable feedback and support, as well as participating in initial early testing of the product.
My coworkers and workplace mentors were also always encouraging me to see this project through, and always had ideas and suggestions to make it more robust. I had initially considered putting it on Kickstarter, but they convinced me that I should do it on my own with some research and planning! It has been extremely fulfilling to learn how to set up an e-commerce business from the very beginning, and I am still learning everyday on how to improve and market the brand with e-commerce tools and social media.
So much of the passion and drive to continue my small business is fueled by the encouragement and support of those in my immediate network, and all the new people I meet that love the art and our products.