YouMe is a recent graduate from New York University, who studied storytelling in social entrepreneurship. She has lived in multiple cities growing up, including Shanghai, New Orleans, Florida, and Hong Kong, but currently resides in New York City. Her wide range of living experiences from childhood has taught her to connect with people from all walks of life. We sat with her at Canal Street Market, where she expressed her love of learning and staying curious. New York allows her to continuously explore and seek new discoveries.
YouMe, tell us about your background!
I was born in New York, but I moved around a lot growing up – for instance, New York, Shanghai, Hong Kong, New Orleans, Florida, and so forth. I moved back to the city for college, and now I call New York my little hub.
Why did you move to so many different cities?
I was raised by a single mom who had many different jobs. As a result, I had to relocate with my mom all the time. I truly believe moms are superheroes, and my mom is one of the hardest workers I know. I used to dislike having to move so often because making friends became very challenging, and I was always the “new girl” at my schools. As I grew older, I learned to better appreciate my past experiences, which have allowed me to develop skill sets, such as the ability to quickly adapt to new situations and surroundings.
What did you study at New York University?
I graduated from Gallatin School of Individualized Studies at New York University, which allowed me to create my own concentration, storytelling in social entrepreneurship. I’ve always wanted to work and support industries and brands that are using their platform to create positive social change and impact, especially through the form of storytelling – hence, I decided to study storytelling in social entrepreneurship in college.
Why are you interested in storytelling?
Honestly, my interest for storytelling began at a very young age due to living in so many places growing up – I was constantly being influenced by people’s experiences and stories. I think storytelling is so powerful because it’s a part of human DNA – something that we can all relate to, something that unites all of us together.
Where are you working now?
I left my full-time job last year where I worked as a social media and influencer relations director at a sustainable fashion company. Now, I’m a full-time independent creative consultant, producer, and content creator for beauty, fashion, and wellness brands. I work to create strategies for social media, partnerships, and events.
What was your first job?
I began my first job during my sophomore year of college, where I was spontaneously hired for a full-time position by a fashion app company to lead their marketing team.
I had to juggle being a full time student and employee – it was definitely a very interesting time of my life. I attended my classes after I got off of work, which often lasted until 9pm several nights a week.
What inspired you to manage so much in college, a full-time student with a full-time job?
I was inspired by my mom’s outlook toward life. Her energy was very contagious, and she never backed down no matter how grim circumstances became. I didn’t grow up with much and, thus, I learned never to take anything for granted at a very young age and made the most out of each and every day.
I think I have always been business minded – influenced by my incredible mom. She was the first in her family to start her own business and take venture risks – there was nothing that could stop her drive to succeed. Being able to witness her achievements taught me how to stay strong and to come back stronger each time I fall.
What’s the largest challenge you have faced in your industry?
As an Asian American, I find that it is challenging to find opportunities and to be equally represented in the fashion and beauty industry. Often times, minorities have to work 10 times harder for an opportunity and end up receiving reduced pay. With that being said, I’ve learned to stand up for myself and to stop tolerating that kind of nonsense.
More than ever, I want to use my platform to bring awareness to issues like this because I believe that awareness and education are essential when it comes to opening people’s minds up to the issue.
What does it mean for you to be powerful?
I feel powerful when I can use my stories and experiences to uplift and help people – whether it’s through sharing vulnerable moments, mistakes I’ve made, or just a funny story that can make people laugh.
We all have interesting stories to share that set all of us apart, but they are also stories that we can bond over and relate to, bringing us closer together. Most recently, I’ve tried to use storytelling to combat the lack of representation of minorities in media by spreading awareness. I highly encourage everyone to be vocal and to stand up for what they’re passionate about.
Photography by Sara Littlejohn