It's not every day we get to celebrate and honor our fellow AAPI friends and their brands, so for AAPI month, we wanted to do just that! Each one of these founders has played a significant role in the success of Garnish, and I wanted to personally write a message to each one of them :)
I met Sandro (AKA Alessandro) close to 5 years ago at a Brooklyn food incubator called Pilotworks. My co-founder and I were in our third year of having our own drink brand, Keepers, and Sandro was in his first with Sanzo. We gave him all the advice we could about how to make a drink product and Sanzo started growing... slowly, but surely. Based on Sanzo test runs and first rounds of packaging, we weren't entirely sure if the company was going to make it. But once the final branding came out from Working Assembly, we knew it was going to be a hit. Three years ago, we had our first shoot together – Sandro paid me $100 and lunch at Nom Wah (lol). He promised that one day he'd come back and pay for actual production. Fast forward to today, Sandro kept his word and hired us to do re-do Sanzo's website content. We're extremely proud of our friend and all he has accomplished!
Wen Jay is a firecracker of a human being. If you've met her in person, you know exactly what I'm talking about! From her bad bitch energy to her funky dance moves, I knew that we were going to be friends. I met her three years ago at a Brooklyn Roasters thinking that Local Roots was just another startup founded by a tech bro with VC money, but it was the complete opposite. Wen Jay & Local Roots embody what it means to be a small business for the people. She believes in feeding her city nutritious foods from local farms and has been working her ass off for over a decade to make that happen. She's going to open her first brick-and-mortar store in Carroll Gardens this summer, and I can't wait to loiter!!!! All that to say is, if you live in NY and call yourself a New Yorker and want to eat fresh veggies, skip the other startups and check out my girl at LOCAL ROOTS!
Carol and I also go way back. She hired me to do her first kickstarter video before I even started Garnish Studios. It was actually before I even knew how to work a camera! Nonetheless, she believed in me, and it kinda jump-started my love for helping food brands do their thing. If anyone knows the hardships of a startup, it's Carol. She's told me some nightmare stories that would make any sane person quit the startup world, or take it as the universe telling them to stop. Yet she's still here! The beverage industry is overly saturated with companies who come and go year after year. Makku deserves a spot on the shelves without a doubt and I hope that it becomes a household name. Makku is the next spiked seltzer trend in 2021, I am calling it!
Linda and I got connected through our pal Joel Eastlick a few years ago when I toyed with the idea of starting a restaurant (The Cornbread Cowboy... more on this later). She is kind of a Bushwick legend with her coffee shop & restaurant enterprise Little Skips, Baby Skips, Little Skips East, and Lil Mo's. Linda runs all these places, yet she still finds a way to balance her wellness and meditation practices. She takes care of her people well and trains them up to do great things. Nothing but mad respect for Linda, and I wish her all the best this year!
Not a food company...I know. I just thought I'd give them a shout-out since they're the homies. It's actually a funny story! I met Kay and Ryan on the subway headed towards Rockaways. It was about 7:00 in the morning, and they were the only other Asian dudes on the train with surfboards. So I felt like I had to strike up a conversation haha! I asked them what they were doing in the city. I was expecting something along the lines of "creative director, graphic designer, UX, finance," but nope! They said, "We own a plant shop!". We've managed to keep in touch over the years and just recently started doing shoots for them! So if you're looking for a plant, hit them up over at ROOTED!
Tiffany is an angel sent from above! I don't know how she found us or how we found her, but it's been a joy to get to know her and her business, Ting! We've gotten to be a sounding board for TINGS this year regarding branding and biz dev – looking forward to seeing her grow into more retail locations this year. Y'all need to try her jack fruit chips because they are truly ADDICTING.
Also not food biz, sorry – I don't make the rules (but here on this blog channel, I DO)! I met Steph, the CEO of SelfMade, through my friend Lauren who is now married to my old coffee soda arch-nemesis Mache (a story for another time). Steph has been so supportive of me as a founder & Garnish as a studio over the past year. We've been able to host them at our studio for shoots and watch their team interact. My favorite thing about Steph is how much she trusts her team and how much she prioritizes building a safe space for them to grow. Thank you for letting me be an honorary SelfMade employee and allowing me to chime in on-brand campaigns :)
Thank you Taylor for trying to correct all my typos and run-on sentences in this very informally written article!!!