We had the good fortune of connecting with Yoyo (Yuheng) Li and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yoyo (Yuheng), what is the most important factor behind your success?
The meaning of success to me is not only about the number of sales or the amount of revenue my brand generates, but it is about the meaningful connections my brand creates with people.
The first custom earring design helped me find the purpose of this handmade small business. A friend of mine asked me to make a specific flower design to commemorate her passing mother. The trust she had in me encouraged me to overcome all the difficulties during the process. I started to gain more confidence and eventually came out of my shell.
More and more people started to reach out to me to create designs that are close to their hearts. The emotional bond is what I call success. They keep my small business going and humble me.
I believe the important factor behind the success of Poppi Clay is that I don’t just make pretty jewelry, but I focus on expressing genuine emotions through my handmade jewelry.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As an artist who grew up in China, I’ve been influenced by Chinese ancient culture deeply since I was young, but I did not appreciate my culture until I left home and studied abroad.
I strongly believe having my own handmade jewelry brand is the perfect opportunity to share the beauty of my culture. To be honest, I was nervous to be judged at first, but my friends and family have encouraged me to prioritize my purpose over my fear of judgement and failure.
I’ve successfully designed and created the blue porcelain and lotus collections that I’m very proud of. I’m hoping more and more people will discover the beauty in different cultures around the world with respectful hearts.
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.
There are the typical touristy places that you shouldn’t miss if you are coming to San Francisco for the first time, such as visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, having clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf, taking a walk through Golden Gate Park among many other landmarks. But there are a lot more gems outside of the city, such as the lovely town, Sausalito, across the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, and maybe a day trip to Napa for some wine tasting.
For my family and I, our favorite outdoor activity is hiking and there are a lot of hiking trails around the Bay Area. If you’d like urban hikes overseeing the Golden Gate Bridge, Lands End would be perfect for you. If you’d like to adventure into the nature, we like the trails at Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve.
As for food, our foodie friend has recently dazzled us with some great recommendation on Korean food in San Jose. To name a few, there’s the Kunjip in Santa Clara. The beef stew is mind blowing. It is crazy good. The other place that was recommended to us but haven’t tried is a Korean BBQ place called 10 Butcher in Sunnyvale. Want to try some delicious Chinese fried buns, Zen Noodle Bar in San Mateo is a must.
Here are some non-Asian restaurant recommendations: Little Luca Sandwish Shop if you don’t mind wait in the line. Fancy Dining at Ernest in SF.
I’m not a nightlife person, so if you are looking for nightlife recommendation from me, you shouldn’t trust a word I tell you.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shout out to some great woman leaders in Polymer Clay community: Kristin from Shophillsidestudio who was my mentor when I first started Poppi Clay.
Ishita from Rangeen who cares about social impact deeply. Ginger from TheBlueBottleTree who has shared her years of making knowledge openly with all the new makers.
I also want to thank to my friends/fellow makers Stephanie from GoodMorningsbyStephanie, Dina from Cairene Hues and Maisha from Ms. Claze for always be my biggest cheerleaders. No matter what I went through, they’ll have my back.
I’d like to thank all the kind and loving support that I’ve been receiving from my customers (I call them friends) and even strangers. I seriously won’t be here without them.
Lastly, I want to shout out to my husband Gavin who has always be there for me.
Photographer: Gavin Liang