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Celebrating our Asian Heritage at Bloomeffects

Celebrating our Asian Heritage at Bloomeffects

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, we are featuring Asian members of our Bloomeffects family to recognize and celebrate the culture, views, and beauty they offer to the world. We are proud to be a community with such diversity and we can't wait to share all of their stories with you!

Starting with our very own CEO and Co-Founder Kim van Haaster

Why did you become an entrepreneur and who and/or what inspired you to start Bloomeffects?

My mum is a major inspiration in my life and the main reason I strive for success as an entrepreneur and mother. Through all her hardship and sacrifices she provided me the opportunity for higher education and instilled in me a strong work ethic with grit and determination. Bloomeffects is really a love story. It's a celebration of Dutch tulips from my husband’s fields and my passion for clean skincare. 

What does being Asian mean to you?

It means being myself. My Asian heritage is a significant part of who I am both inside and out. At times in my life it’s contributed to feeling different than the majority but this is something I have learned to embrace as I am extremely proud of my Asian background.

What has living on three continents (Australia, North America and Europe) taught you about yourself? 

Each place has helped define what my ethnicity means to me. I’ve learned that it is not always easy to be a woman of Asian appearance, especially in places with a mostly non-Asian population. Every time I’ve moved I’ve had to adapt and integrate again. In Australia, I was one of only a few Asian kids at school. I looked different from my classmates and as we all know, children can be harsh. When I went to live in the United States, I had to prove myself again as an Australian with a Chinese/Vietnamese background breaking stereotypes and confirming where I was "really from". Living in the Netherlands as an English speaker has its own challenges coupled with the fact that there aren't many Chinese/Vietnamese people in my neighborhood and town.

What is the biggest challenge for Asian women in business for themselves?

I think it's the stereotypes of Asian women due largely to the media. As an Asian woman you are often stereotyped into three categories: (1) Submissive, quiet, studious and academic (2) an aggressive, ruthless, angry and bossy tiger mom or (3) a sex symbol. The reality is that everyone is unique and individual and of course from time to time you might display some of these stereotypes but they should not define who you are or the work that you do.

What was your biggest roadblock in building Bloomeffects? And how did you overcome it?

I would have to say COVID. This pandemic has greatly affected everyone globally but for Bloomeffects the timing was less than optimal, with everything shutting down four months post launch! We survived the depths of COVID by being pragmatic, pivoting our strategy and acting quickly to reduce cash burn and overheads to “batten down the hatches” and survive the fall out. With a global team we were always working remotely so the “work from home” that has become the norm during COVID was already the norm for us. 

What is your advice to Asian women entrepreneurs on starting a business?

Just start! If you think you should wait for a better time or better idea or finish your 100-page plan before you start, you never will. So just start the ball rolling and make sure you have a single-minded goal in your sight.

What are some of the ways people can support the Asian community right now, specifically women?

In your day to day, support your local Asian community and businesses by buying their goods and services. In the beauty industry, we need to be showing more diversity in the faces of our campaigns, social media and user generated content. As an Australian Asian girl I had very few Asian role models, I think there was Mulan and Lucy Liu and that's it! So the media industry plays a huge part in this and we need every young girl to have strong female role models that look like them to look up to.

What is your hope for the future? 

It would be good if everyone would put themselves in someone else's shoes every now and then. I hope the world will become more positive and that parents will educate their children in such a way that there will be more tolerance and less racism in the future. As a new mother, I am already thinking about my daughter Eva's future. She is mix raced and will no doubt look different from her classmates. My daughter will be a Dutch girl who will be able to speak fluent English with influences from Vietnam, China, Australia and America. I see all of this as an enormous advantage, and strength for her future.

Nic Davidson, Head of Digital

Why did you get into the digital/technology industry?

I’ve started and run technology/digital backed businesses since I was a kid. With Bloomeffects I head the digital department, run Australasia and sit on the leadership team. Working in technology started as a hobby learning code and building computers; that then turned into a very diverse career building health, beauty and technology businesses across the world.

Who and/or what inspired you to start your business?

My work ethic came from my mother who spent the majority of her life in orphanages in Singapore. It was there she learnt a number of languages and came to Australia and became a teacher. My father and my grandfather were both astute businessmen across very different fields, so starting my own businesses was never a difficult transition mentally. I found that I always have quite a unique way of doing things that doesn’t always work in a traditional corporate setting… seems to be working so far!

What does being Asian mean to you?

Being only half Asian has always put me at quite a unique intersection of nationalities, but adding the extra layer of my Mum (whose heritage is Singaporean) being adopted into a Caucasian family makes my identity even more complex. While that means I didn't grow up surrounded by Asian family members, cultural values or beliefs, it has still always been part of how I perceive myself and has definitely influenced how others perceive and respond to me. In my earlier years, it meant a lot of racism, isolation and confusion which, of course, at times made me resent it. But as time has passed, I've come to embrace being multicultural as something interesting and unique as well as an experience I can share with people all over the world. It's definitely a talking point getting people to guess what nationalities make up my background!

What is the biggest challenge for Asian people in business for themselves?

While this isn't an aspect of my own Asian background given the unique situation I described above, over my decades in business I've noticed two particularly common struggles for Asian business owners. Firstly, recent years have seen the rise of the accidental entrepreneur or successful business stories emerging from a major career pivot - many Asian business people struggle heavily getting their families to support them going to business at all particularly where that involves them walking away from a more traditional, stable career path. There are often heavily ingrained beliefs about what success looks like and which career paths are more valuable than others and it can be extremely challenging to forge ahead with a pathway when those you love don't yet understand the new ways the world can provide wealth and opportunity. Secondly, in the quite different scenario where Asian people come from a long line of hard-working business owners, another struggle seems quite common - the work ethic among the Asian population is relentless and the sense of duty and honour towards providing for the family can be overwhelming. Under those pressures and driven by those values, the propensity for burnout is even more alarming than it already is so I often see Asian business owners struggling to make time for themselves in between the hustling (which I also do, but possibly for different reasons!)

What was your biggest roadblock in building your business? And how did you overcome it?

The biggest roadblock in building my initial businesses was backing myself and capital. The strongest negative voice about my ideas at the beginning was always my own; once I started to believe in myself by surrounding myself with the right voices and when I truly started to back my own ideas is when success started to come. Lack of capital investment in the initial businesses was also a problem until we brought on partners in subsequent ventures.

What is your advice to Asian entrepreneurs on starting a business? 

I don't really think of "Asian entrepreneurs" as a category - I think the entrepreneurial world is amazingly democratic and made up of simply "entrepreneurs" some of whom happen to be Asian (like me). So my advice to ALL entrepreneurs is the same - don't let fear control your decisions, have a healthy appetite for failure and an insatiable thirst for learning, surround yourself with people who bring positivity rather than negativity to your life and don't be too hard on yourself - we're all winging it!

What are some of the ways people can support the Asian community right now, specifically women?

I think to just be aware that business is a constant onslaught of struggles and challenges which is what makes it exciting, but at this particular time in history, Asian business owners are also facing horrible challenges outside of their work on the streets and in their daily lives that no one should ever have to deal with. So keeping the conversation going against violence and for equality and humanity is so important in whatever way you can. We should all support our Asian community’s businesses where possible too, which is easy when there are so many incredible asian female led businesses (like Bloomeffects of course!).

Alice T, NPD Coordinator  

What does being Asian mean to you?

Moving to the States from Vietnam all by myself at the age of 15, I used to feel quite lost and try to mold myself a certain way to fit in with the Western culture. But as I’ve gotten older, being Asian means so much to me more than just the color of my skin or the languages I speak. It represents my whole heritage, my parents’ sacrifice for me to succeed and my hard work to get where I am today.

What is the biggest challenge for Asian women in business for themselves?

Asian women have been unfairly portrayed as being submissive through numerous Hollywood movies and because of this, they are often expected to be timid and ambitionless within the office setting. Nonetheless, this narrative is slowly being changed as now we can see many Asian women stepping up and taking leadership roles in all industries. I really hope this can empower the next and never-ending generations of Asian women to show the world how we can achieve success just like any other people.

What is your advice to Asian women who want to work in the beauty industry?

Work hard, use your creativity and don’t be afraid to speak up! If you like beauty & it would like to pursue it long term, just go for it. The beauty industry is growing faster and faster everyday and there’s so much to learn!

What are some of the ways people can support the Asian community right now, specifically women?

I think the best way to support the Asian community right now is for people to educate themselves and others around them. There’s so many free resources online including articles, books & movies that can help give people different perspectives. I think when people can put themselves in other people’s shoes & understand their struggles, it is a lot easier to empathize and show support.