What does it mean to be an Asian woman? TONL Co-Founder, Karen Okonkwo connected with Sharon Lin one day in West Seattle over brunch to discuss just that. It was then that Sharon shared her vision: Arise Seattle, which is the focus of our second story installment in our "Dinner Party" Series.
Sharon Lin is the co-founder of Arise Seattle, along with her partners Alice Chen and Jasmine Ong. In March 2018, they co-founded Arise with the vision to live in a world where more Asian women are leaders in their careers, and are supported and empowered in their ambitions. They're known for their intentional events, the genuine connections within the Arise community, and their openness and practical workshops/discussions on topics ranging from salary negotiation to mental health. Read more about the Dinner Party and Arise Seattle and be sure to shop the collection!
One of Arise's missions is to increase fair and accurate Asian representation in the media, which closely aligns with TONL's mission.
Tell us more about the Dinner Party setting...
Sharon: The first theme for our first photoshoot was Taiwanese cuisine for TONL's "Taste" category. While there's generally a basic level understanding of Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisine in pockets of American culture, many people don't know much about Taiwanese food, other than "everyone says Taiwanese food is delicious". With this in mind (and with myself and Sam (TONL photographer), both being from Taiwanese background), we were so excited to capture authentic Taiwanese food with a fun and conversational photoshoot.
What is the story behind Arise and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
In January 2018, Alice, Jasmine and I met up for happy hour to catch up after the holidays. Side note: I met each of them separately through work and common friends - both of whom I've connected with immediately. Ever since we went on our first backpacking trip together, the three of us (and sometimes our SO's) love getting together as a group.
As usual, after sharing our recent life updates and holiday adventures, we naturally started talking about work - both the highlights and the challenges. Aside from the fact that we're all driven and see work as a significant part of our lives, one main reason why we talk about work together is that we always seem to understand each other, relate to similar challenges, and ultimately help each other learn and grow - even though we work in different companies/groups and have different personalities/strengths/weaknesses. At some point of the night, the idea of starting a group for Asian women was casually mentioned....and then, we got serious and met up the following week with pens, post-its, and big ideas and dreams. As we started digging into these issues that we care about, we got more passionate because stats like "Asian females are the least represented demographic in the executive suite" and "Asian Americans are less likely to seek help for mental health problems" unfortunately do not surprise us, and clearly do not reflect the world we want to live in.
Since then, we have hosted a number of events, ranging from panel discussions on therapy, salary negotiation and media representation to casual happy hour gatherings - all with the goal to create a sense of belonging and empowerment for fellow Asian women. Our hope is to see more Asian women as leaders in their careers, are represented fairly and accurately in media and conversations, and feel supported and empowered by their communities.
You’ve read the narrative, now use it as inspiration! Shop “Dinner Party: Empowering Asian Women” below.