As a company created by two women, we know how important it is to celebrate women who are trailblazers in their respective fields. That’s why we’ve started our Boss Babes series. Each month we’ll highlight one woman who’s leading the way and is absolutely crushing it, in business and in life. Here, they’ll answer questions on everything from how they started out and advice they think every woman should know, plus their beauty routines and how they take care of themselves. This month: Ally Maki, founder of Asian American Girl Club.
You may recognize actress Ally Maki from her work on the screen, but what you might not realize is that she’s also a founder in her own right. Ally established the Asian American Girl Club, an apparel company, in order to celebrate and give a platform to the next generation of the AAPI community. Through content, visuals, and seriously cute swag, the brand is redefining what it means to be an Asian American in 2020. Here, she shares her inspiration for the AAGC, her secret love of hockey, and her best beauty secrets.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you start Asian American Girl Club? Why did you choose this as your passion?
There really was no specific aha moment for the creation of Asian American Girl Club, but rather a culmination of all of the life experiences I had not only experienced but witnessed through the eyes of other AAPI women around me. These women are multifaceted and so beautifully talented. It was founded on the floor of my living room with nothing but a name and a logo, truthfully not really knowing what it would be. We uploaded it to IG at 10:30pm and I swear the next morning the inbox and email was flooded with messages from girls around the country just wanting to share their stories and say what it meant to them to see this exist. A few had sent in college style essays on their identity that felt as if they were taken from my very own mind. One of my hopes for AAGC is that it inspires others to start their own companies, projects our just aim for their highest dreams. Because they see others who look like them doing it. To be fearless and strong knowing there is a support and community behind them saying “yes, it’s possible.”
What were some of the challenges you faced as a female founder? How did you overcome them?
Leadership is a role I’m stepping into that’s new for me. It’s extraordinarily scary and presents daily challenges. As a girl who grew up shy and still consider myself a true introvert, I’m still getting used to the idea of making decisions confidently. Assertiveness has always been something I’ve struggled with due to most of my formative years being spent in the entertainment industry where I felt a figurative glass ceiling all around me.
I try to surround myself with people who are smarter than me. I ask so many questions. All the time. The minute I feel anxious about something I always turn to education. Read a book or schedule a therapy session. I’ve discovered that so much of leadership is being okay with the imperfection that comes along with it.
Why do you think it’s important for more women to start their own business or lead brands?
It really means everything. When we look at the numbers for female founded businesses and brands it’s truly disheartening. I look back to my younger self who didn’t believe that being a business owner was even a possibility for me. With each female founded business a new iteration of what’s possible is put into existence. It changes culture in an instant. During the release of Toy Story 4, I remember a moment that really got me. A mom had sent a message on Instagram saying that her 6 year old Asian American daughter had just seen the film and told her excitedly, “Giggle looks like me.” She’s making that connection at such a young age. It’s moments like these where you see how powerful it is.
Any beauty secrets you want to share?
Being kind to your face. In every way. I’ve only put makeup on a handful of times the past couple months and I have to say how wonderful it is to give your skin that break. Not only to allow your pores to breathe, but to reestablish how I was looking at my face. While filters and different makeup looks are fun to experiment with, I realized that I’ve forgotten what it is to just sit with my natural self. Bare face, freckles, imperfections and all. I hope this quarantine forces a return to embracing more authenticity, inside and out.
Best skincare advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t forget sunscreen.
What is something surprising people might not know about you?
Hockey rinks are like a second home to me. My two older brothers both played hockey growing up so every single weekend was spent in a Vancouver ice rink. I loved watching the zamboni clean the ice. I also remember sitting for hours under the bleachers drinking hot chocolate and inventing stories.
What are your goals for 2020, both for yourself and for AAGC?
This quarantine period has really forced me to dig deeper into my true self. At times it feels uncomfortable and confronting without all the daily distractions of being busy. All you’re left with is your truest wants and needs. I’m excited to spend time with family and loved ones, learn how to make a vegetable garden and cook family recipes. To develop passion projects I’ve been putting off for a rainy day (that most likely would’ve never come if not for this period of self reflection). For AAGC, I am excited to dive into creating content that continues to push forward underrepresented voices.
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