Clare Ngai, who is Chinese-American, started a group of crafts that aided minority communities in a decade of social media. She decided to bring together her childhood love of jewelry and passion for developing kitschy jewelry brand BONBONWHIMS.
The Y2K-inspired brand was initially intended to be a short-term strategy to help BIPOC individuals affected by racial violence. Soon, the brand has increased in popularity, with celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Doja Cat wearing Ngaias vibrant designs. However, even now, charitable efforts remain a key component of the brand''s identity.
What is the most rewarding component of owning your own business?
I still receive a slew of comments from young Asian and Asian-American girls about aI starting a business because I found you on Instagrama or aI love that you are respected in your space and that makes me feel comfortable with having a role model to look up to.a That is something so special to me. Opening the door a little bit for other people to feel like they could have a seat at the table, which is really important to me.
Have you ever encountered any difficulties pertaining to being an Asian woman business owner?
When I was attempting to find my footing in the jewelry store, I realized that these [situations] were microaggresions. Is this because I am Asian ora?a This is a matter a white employee has to consider. Many times, female founders who are in the limelight come from privileged backgrounds.
It''s fantastic that you started with the charity component from the start.
The brand was always a part of the brand''s DNA, just as a person of color. I wanted to create fun, compassionate jewelry for people to escape the reality during the epidemic. And at the same time, many businesses are non-minority-owned a Iam an immigrant, so I wanted to be the next model for the future generations. Last March, we launched a ring called the Ling Bling. Proceeds went to Send Chinatown Love, a charity that distributes hot lunches
I love that you integrated Black Lives Matter and #StopAsianHate. Itas very personal to me as a Black person, especially when it comes to seeing the two communities come together at a time when weare both being affected by violence.
It''s really fantastic to combine the two communities. I wish that other businesses would do that. However, I believe that if you are not a minority-owned business, it doesnat come naturally or authentically.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
Getting to know the naysayers is essential for yourself. I still struggle with that. Highs and lows are very high. Find that anchor in yourself, because there will be a lot of people who wonat believe in what you do. I would also add: finding a circle that matches you.
What are the most common mistakes you see on job requests from individuals who seek to enter the fashion industry?
I''m getting a lot of DMs about internships and a lot of informal emails when you are a customer. So when you are applying, you should at least be sending me a line with a resume. I think people have an excessive sense of responsibility when it comes to applying for a fashion project.
Is there any need to keep an eye on resumes?
If you [donat] have a fashion experience, it is no longer important to consider joining the organization you are applying to. For example, aI think I would be a great ambassador for the brand using the people skills I learned from my previous experience. I donat feel like you just blasted this to 500 different individuals. Every cover letter is customized to the person who receives it.
Is there any person you are manifesting to wear BONBONWHIMS?
Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid, both from a Y2K perspective, are ideal for me personally, so manifesting that. There was a time when I saw Ariana Grande every day. I feel like I put the message out in the universe and then she showed it. Manifestation, plus hard work, is critical to successful success.
This interview has been rewritten and condensed for clarity.