Are you thinking of starting your own business? Where do you even begin? Luckily for us, the SBA (Small Business Administration) referred us to the Silicon Valley chapter of SCORE. One of the best parts of this amazing organization has to be the many retired executives, CEOs, and CFOs who volunteer their time and expertise: we’ve relied on their free mentoring services many times. They also offer reasonably priced courses, such as business plan help and Quicken. Today, we talked to Noriko Kunimi, the upcoming Chair for Silicon Valley SCORE.
Wonderland Organics: What area of business do you specialize in?
Noriko Kunimi: My business specialty is Business Alliances Management. I managed executive relationships with large foreign companies with whom my U.S. companies established formal alliance agreements to do joint technology development, joint marketing and sales.
Wonderland Organics: That’s impressive! Tell us a little about your background.
SV SCORE classroom
Noriko Kunimi: I originally came from Japan to go to high school in the U.S. After college and graduate school, I worked for many years at large high tech companies in various areas, such as business strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic alliances. When I decided to retire early in 2007, I was vice president of global alliances for a major East Coast company. Since retirement, I have done management consulting as well as executive coaching, and of course counseling at SCORE. I am currently the Vice chair of the Silicon Valley Chapter, and I will step into the Chair position starting this October.
Wonderland Organics: You’re quite inspirational! How did you come to work for SCORE?
Noriko Kunimi: Several years ago I had a neighbor who was active in SCORE and he recruited me into the Silicon Valley Chapter of SCORE. At the time there weren’t many women in the organization, so they were glad to have me join.
Wonderland Organics: We’re sure that SCORE is happy to have you join their ranks! What services does SCORE offer?
Noriko Kunimi: As you may know, SCORE is a nonprofit organization that has about 340 chapters around the U.S. staffed by more than 11,000 volunteers, majority of whom used to own their own businesses or were executives in corporations. Here at the Silicon Valley Chapter, we have over 50 full time members and several who are in training to become full members. We provide business mentoring to people who either already have small businesses or those who are starting new ones. Many clients are very talented in their own fields but may not have any business planning or management background. We help them organize their businesses for success. We provide free one-on-one counseling, free business mentoring on an ongoing basis, and provide an array of classes and workshops at nominal prices.
Wonderland Organics: We love using SCORE’s services! What is your favorite part of working for SCORE?
SV SCORE Counselors
Noriko Kunimi: I really enjoy working with clients who are passionate about their business but need a little help looking at how they are doing their business.
Wonderland Organics: We agree, it’s great that SCORE provides help for entrepreneurs. Do you have any advice for people thinking about going the entrepreneurial route?
Noriko Kunimi: Yes, be passionate! It’s hard work, so you have to be committed and really believe in what you are doing. Then get unbiased help from organizations such as SCORE to develop plans to make it come true.
Wonderland Organics: That’s a fantastic point. And last but not least, what’s your favorite part of the Wonderland Organics website/blog?
Noriko Kunimi: Your interviews are interesting.
Thanks so much to Noriko for talking to us! Interested in SCORE? Check out their website here, and be sure to look for a chapter near you.
We love Interview Fridays, as they’re a great chance to interact with people across different careers, mindsets, and personalities. We first met Jeremy Blum in Taipei, when we were both writing for City543. Now, he’s working in Hong Kong as an online reporter for South China Morning Post.
Wonderland Organics: What first got you interested in journalism?
Jeremy Blum: I actually wasn’t specifically interested in journalism until fairly recently; I never studied it in college, and the only “media agency” I’d worked for prior to 2012 was my middle school newspaper. I WAS interested in writing, though. It’s been a hobby of mine ever since I was a little kid. I minored in Creative Writing in school and received my major in East Asian Studies. When I graduated, I knew I wanted to leave the US and travel while I still could. (I’d call it a gap year, but this was back in 2010, when millennials didn’t call themselves millennials yet and the term “gap year” wasn’t as popular.) I’m half Taiwanese, so I decided to go to Taiwan for a year to improve my Chinese and work as an English teacher. I had a wonderful time in Taiwan, and my one year there turned into two.
Eventually I decided that I wanted to go to graduate school in Asia. I looked around at programs that were available in a variety of places, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Korea, and I also spent a good month pondering the question of “what exactly am I good at?” Eventually I realized that the answer was writing, something I’d been doing for pleasure for years. I actually prefer writing fiction above all else, but since it’s quite difficult to get a paying job as a novelist, I figured that I’d get a journalist degree first, because that way I could at least make a living doing something I’m good at. I ended up applying and getting accepted by the University of Hong Kong for a Master’s degree in Journalism, and I’ve been here since. At this point, it’s been over four years since I left the United States.
Wonderland Organics: We love that you ended up traveling abroad! It was definitely an amazing experience. Tell us about your background.
Jeremy Blum: I was born and raised in New Jersey and lived there until I was 22. I had a pretty quiet, mildly repressed suburban upbringing – kind of typical of a lot of kids growing up in small town America. Sometime around high school, I slowly realized how boring my town was and began wanting to see the world. Even though I’m half Taiwanese, I’d never been to Taiwan or even left the United States as a kid, and my first time abroad was a trip to Japan when I was 16. I applied to be a student ambassador at a program sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, and I spent two weeks in the summer touring various Japanese cities, meeting Japanese students my age. The trip blew my mind and birthed a strong desire to go to Asia and rediscover my heritage, so that’s why I ended up majoring in East Asian Studies in college.
Jeremy Blum, online reporter for South China Morning Post
Wonderland Organics: That’s fantastic! How did you like joining the City543 team?
Jeremy Blum: I joined City543 near the end of my two years in Taiwan. That was an interesting time because I had already applied to journalism school, and in the process of filling out my resume I realized that while I’ve always considered myself a writer, I barely had any clips to show future employers. I badly needed experience writing and publishing articles online, so I began trying whatever I could to put my work out there. City543 was one of the first “real” gigs that I got, and it happened purely by luck. At the time I was studying Chinese at Taipei’s National Taiwan University, and I had a friend named Elaine who had another friend named Stephanie. At one get-together, I learned that Stephanie wrote for a blog called Taipei543 (that was its name at the time), and I asked her if she could recommend me. I met the folks in charge of the site and ended up writing a bunch of articles for them during my last two or three months in Taiwan. It was very fun – I got to flex my writing muscle, improve my familiarity with Taipei and finally got some decent stuff up on the internet. At the same time, I also wrote for a technology blog (which is unfortunately now offline), and that was also thanks to connections that I made while studying Chinese. The whole experience taught me that “who you know” and just plain old dumb luck is quite important.
Wonderland Organics: We’re pretty sure the world is incredibly small when we travel abroad! What’s a typical day like at work in Hong Kong?
Jeremy Blum: I work as an online reporter for the South China Morning Post, which is Hong Kong’s English-language newspaper. Generally I work anywhere from 8-10 hours a day, although I have pulled longer hours when it’s crunch time for a big story or multimedia project. When I first started I mainly wrote stories centered around current events in mainland China, including translations of Chinese-language articles and social media commentary. (All of my studies in Taiwan definitely helped with this…although I won’t lie, Google Translate is still a massive help.) I’m also filling in as a social media editor these days, so my hours have been packed with maintaining our Facebook and Twitter accounts and dealing with marketing people. When I’m not doing journalism-related stuff, I’m also blogging and working on a book manuscript. Overall, a typical day at work in Hong Kong is fast-paced, busy and filled with a billion e-mails, just like any other huge city.
Wonderland Organics: Google Translate definitely helps with emails. What do you find most rewarding about being a journalist?
Jeremy Blum: I’ve always liked writing and story-telling, and being a journalist is essentially about communicating stories that are based in fact and current events. I particularly like bringing attention to lesser-known topics that mainstream audiences aren’t aware of, and I’m lucky enough to have open-minded editors who generally let me write whatever I want. For example, I did a long piece on how American comedy programs like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have found an underground audience in China, and I also wrote an article on Americans who translate relatively obscure Chinese video games. I enjoy shedding light on weird stuff like this.
Wonderland Organics: It’s great to see your passion for writing and the truth! Something that we’re all curious about: what’s the scariest moment you’ve had as a journalist?
Jeremy Blum: I don’t know if I’d call this scary, but I do still get nervous before I have to call or interview someone. I’m okay doing it in English, but a few times I’ve had to call random people in China to try to get quotes for a story, and despite all those years of study, I’m still not the best at speaking formal Chinese on the phone to somebody that I don’t know. (My Chinese has also regressed a bit since coming to Hong Kong, if you can believe that. There’s way too much English here.) One time I had to call this police station in a faraway Chinese province to try to find out what happened to a little boy who’d gotten into a bad accident, and I ended up fumbling over my words everywhere. It was embarrassing, and the fact that the people on the phone were grumpy, had really thick accents and were probably overworked didn’t help. But dealing with this sort of thing and overcoming it is part of being a journalist, I suppose.
Wonderland Organics: A brave man! Do you have any advice for people wanting to follow their dreams and go the entrepreneurial route?
Jeremy Blum: I think anyone who wants to follow an unorthodox path in life needs to stay positive and persistent. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a writer, photographer, an entrepreneur or whatever – if you strongly desire to construct a career out of creating something, whether that “something” is your own business or a work of art, then you’ve got to be prepared for a long road that may not be profitable in the beginning. Other people (like your parents) will probably dissuade you and encourage you to pursue a job with more stability, and whether you take their advice or not is your own decision. But if you feel strongly about a passion, don’t let it slip away entirely. Even if you have to take up a more stable job to pay the bills, try to find a way to fulfill your interests on the side. It’ll be tough, but if you think about it, most people in this world are perfectly content to live an existence simply surviving and making money for someone else. If you desire something more than that and can’t let that desire go, then it’s worth the plunge to cultivate your entrepreneurial spirit. Also, if you’re a creative type, don’t underestimate the possibility of starting your business abroad, or at least leaving your home country to gain some perspective, motivation and self-awareness. Some of the best ways to gather inspiration for that project you’ve always thought about are traveling, meeting new people and expanding your horizons. You never know what can happen.
Wonderland Organics: Well said! We hope people thinking about starting their own businesses will keep this in mind. What’s your favorite part of the Wonderland blog/website?
Jeremy Blum: I love how you interview other entrepreneurs and creative types every Friday. Anything that brings attention to other people who are trying to break out of the mold and do things a little different from the norm is good in my book.
Thanks so much for talking to us, Jeremy! If you want to know more, feel free to follow his social media & website:
Philip Fabian, Founder & Brewmaster of Holy Craft Brewing Company
Interview Fridays have always been our favorite, as talking to other entrepreneurs and inspiring people in their fields have been incredibly amazing. We met the CEO of Holy Craft Brewing Company, Steve Seto, at a TAP-SF (Taiwanese-American Professionals- SF) event, and were lucky enough to talk to him and the Founder, Philip Fabian, the Brewmaster. Holy Craft Brewing Co. is located in San Francisco: read on for more after the jump!
Wonderland Organics: Where were you working before Holy Craft Brewery?
Philip Fabian: I worked in tech financial services for a firm that is universally recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in America. I worked as a Client Support Representative.
Wonderland Organics: That’s great! Clearly you’ve been able to transfer some of those skills over to Holy Craft Brewery. What’s the inspiration behind your company?
Philip Fabian: It really was a hobby that grew beyond what I imagined it to be. At first my friends and I thought it would’ve been cheaper to make our own beer – which was true for a little while. But when you start purchasing expensive ingredients to brew with (South American chocolate or a rare honey made exclusively in the swamps of Florida for example) then the original intent of it being cost efficient kinda goes out the window in lieu of making something crazy and something unique. Not only that but I took some time off of work to study at the UC Davis School of Brewing Sciences to learn from two leading academics of the field.
But the most rewarding thing about doing something like this is creating something that people enjoy. I’ve never been so humbled by the incredible positive response to my development as a brewer and most importantly my transition to a professional in this field.
Not only that but I quit working for my previous company which is almost universally ranked as one of the fastest growing companies in America. It takes a lot of confidence to make the sort of jump that I did.
Wonderland Organics: That’s something that we have in common, doing research and development with expensive ingredients in the skincare industry 🙂 How is it working with your partners?
Holy Craft Brewing Co.
Philip Fabian: You’ve got to work with people that are greatly skilled at what they do and respect their decision making. Listen to what they have to say while being firm when it comes to standing your position on things. Like any relationship, the social dynamics are going to fluctuate – sometimes you’ll get along, sometimes you’ll butt heads. But that’s the beauty of it because people like me can’t start and run a company on my own. I need to work with people that are fantastic at what I’m weak at and likewise for them.
Wonderland Organics: Excellent way of putting it. We’re looking forward to having partners for WO one day too! What’s a day like at the Holy Craft Brewery?
Philip Fabian: As of right now it’s to build our brand and getting into as many places as we can. We hold a lot of tasting sessions with prospective vendors, building our marketing, managing the inventory, checking on our vendors amongst a plethora of other things. Unfortunately a “set schedule” doesn’t bode well with a start-up company because there are many things that need to be done that we wonder how we find time to sleep.
Wonderland Organics: We love this question, as our interviewees all have different answers to a typical day. Which beer would you recommend?
Philip Fabian: We only have one readily available at the moment a Belgian Style Golden Ale at 8.5% ABV. It has a sweet smooth body with a bite of bitterness at the end. The response to this beer ranged from “Tastes like the beer from when I lived in Belgium” to “Wow this totally tastes better than Budweiser!”
Steve Seto, Holy Craft Brewing Co. CEO
Wonderland Organics: It tastes quite hoppy to us, we like it! Do you have any events coming up?
Philip Fabian: A few, but they’re in the works right now so we can’t comment too much on them at the moment. Stay tuned!
Wonderland Organics: We’re looking forward to them! Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs?
Philip Fabian: Make sure you’re starting a business to support your passion in your product more than as means of making money. I say this because I have met other entrepreneurs who started a business for the wrong reasons and now they either don’t feel passionate about it or ran the business into the ground. They cut corners, didn’t listen to feedback, and cared more about maximizing profits while investing with the bare minimum. So it wasn’t surprising when even their most loyal customers began to wane toward the competition
You’ve got to have passion for what you do and your passion will show in your work. Only then the money will start to trickle in. Successful start-ups thrive on passion, ingenuity and and overall willingness to continuously improve. It took me a few years, a formal education and a lot of networking to get in the position that I am only now just beginning. And once you’re in you’ll actually see how intimidating the business world can really be.
We’re going up against companies that have their logos plastered in every stadium in America, have exclusive contracts with farms, won multiple Gold Medals in the World Beer Cup (Like the Oscars for Brewers worldwide), brew masters that have 20+ years of experience and not only that: we’re in one of the most competitive beer markets in the country. But what drives me the most to wake up each morning is my passion for what I do – make awesome beer for equally awesome people. If I focus on that, and just that, I think I’ll be OK and Holy Craft has a fighting chance. Stay passionate and continuously seek to improve yourself and your product.
Wonderland Organics: Thank you for this, Philip! We hope our readers will take this to heart. What’s your favorite part of the Wonderland Organics blog?
Philip Fabian: You seem to interview a lot of budding entrepreneurs. I know a lot of people dream about starting their own business and its always fascinating to learn about entrepreneurial endeavors from those that already made the jump.
Holy Craft Brewery!
Thanks Philip for talking to us! Check out Holy Craft Brewery on Facebook and their website!
As always, check out our blog for more interviews soon. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Anne Marie Esposito, President of Sparklefly Candle Company
Earlier this week, we featured our first giveaway with fellow Indie member Anne Marie Esposito of Sparklefly Candle Company, shown here! Don’t forget to enter here for your chance to win a Soothe Serum & Lilac Votive Candle! Contest ends 9/1/14 at 12 am.
Wonderland Organics: How did Sparklefly Candle Company start?
Anne Marie: I’ve always had a love affair with candles and scents. I feel that I live my life through scent; associating events, daily tasks and moods to the perfect aroma. I may celebrate with Sweet Orange Chili Pepper or relax with a good book to Lavender Heaven. So, after years of searching for that perfect candle to ride off with into the sunset and encountering some really great friendships and some really bad heartbreaks, I began studying the art of candle-making. It became my passion, my creative expression and my emotional outlet.
After 12 years, in 2011, with much support and encouragement to finally turn a dream into a reality, I formed Sparklefly Candle Company. Sparklefly Candle Company Inc. is a family owned business that thrives on the principles of teamwork, personal growth and meaningful relationships.
Wonderland Organics: We admire that you’ve gone after your dreams! Your candles are beautiful. What inspires you when you create your tumblers and candles?
Anne Marie: I try to find inspiration in everything I do. It’s the backbone of my brand and something that I push myself to live by. I am inspired by the process (the formulation, fragrances, colors, techniques), I am inspired by my family (support, love, willingness to dream) and I am inspired by my customers, friends and networks (joy, feedback, support, sense of community). The product is just an expression, an end result to all of these factors.
Wonderland Organics: You’re quite an inspirational lady! What’s your best selling product?
Sparklefly Ginger Lime Collection
Anne Marie: My best selling product line would be my Sparkle Stones. These handmade beauties provide a flameless alternative for those that are unable to or prefer not to light candles. They can also be used as a decorative accent to create centerpieces and more. People love them because they last for months, they don’t have to worry about a flame and they smell and look great. Perfect for the office, teacher gift, bathrooms, or anywhere you would like to add a beautiful piece with flameless aroma.
Wonderland Organics: The Sparkle Stones are gorgeous: we know that we’re occasionally wary of using candles. What does a typical day look like at Sparklefly?
Anne Marie: I’m still working on that. So far, not much is typical, even after 3 years in business, I am still just starting out. You wear so many hats that you are often moving from one task to another in effort to keep up and keep moving forward. I will be ending a full time position this month and focusing on growing this business. This is a VERY exciting time for me. I’m currently putting together my plan for what that workday will look like come Tuesday. WOOHOO! Currently, I try to start my day as early as possible with a HUGE cup of coffee and tackle emails, order requests, social media posts, networking and anything else I can fit in before I go to work. I spend my lunch break doing the same and setting up production for new inventory, website updates, calls, design planning, research, webinars, more more coffee and networking. The evenings are spent with the family and kid’s bedtime is for production, packaging and shipping and sometimes more coffee. This is a family owned and run business so I incorporate my family into as much as possible so we can enjoy time together while helping each other. My children LOVE it, thank God, and they get just as much satisfaction from our successes as I do.
Wonderland Organics: That’s fantastic! We know as entrepreneurs it’s difficult to say that we have the same things to accomplish each day. Do you have any specials or sales?
Lilac Medium Sparkle Stones
Anne Marie: I wouldn’t necessarily describe my offers as sales. I think it is more important to make EVERY purchase feel like you are getting something special. If I am not offering my customers a complete experience, then why purchase from me at all. However, I do have some “events” up my sleeve for the upcoming season including an End of Summer clearance. Join my mailing list and you will always be in the know.
Wonderland Organics: That’s an excellent way of putting it! Do you have any advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Anne Marie: On the Sparklefly Candle blog, I write a lot of inspirational pieces, one of the pieces I wrote recently was about grabbing hold of your dreams. It was an important piece to me personally. As an entrepreneur, it’s so important to keep dreaming and creating your own magic, yet plant your feet firmly on the ground and develop something real. You just have to find that balance. This is not the easy path, but it’s YOURS. That what drives me. In my opinion, the most important 3 questions to ask yourself and answer as honestly as possible, first and often throughout your career:
- “Are you willing to commit to working harder than you ever have before?”
- “Do you have the support of your family and loved ones, are they willing to allow you to work harder than you ever have before?”
- “Are you clear about who you are and what you represent and is that marketable?”
Stay positive and stay true to your voice.
Wonderland Organics: Those are great questions that entrepreneurs starting out should ask themselves! It’s hard, and definitely not for everyone. But we wish the best of luck to our fellow entrepreneurs out there! What’s your favorite part of the Wonderland Organics blog?
Sparklefly Candle Company Lilac Votive Candle
Anne Marie: I love how you are introducing your followers to some wonderful bloggers and entrepreneurs that they may never had access to otherwise. I L-O-V-E the Maker/Indie community and you are definitely giving them some love, my friend.
Thanks Anne Marie! Honestly, there’s nothing better than talking to a fellow woman entrepreneur.
Give her some love on:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Be sure to check out our giveaway!
Love reading our interviews? Check them out more on the Wonderland Blog.
Learning Team Coordinator!
Hi everyone! We hope that you’ve checked out our new website– we hope that you’re loving our new UI and aesthetics. (We’re currently offering 20% off, and free shipping on all orders!)
For our first new post on our site, we’re bringing to you an interview with Mabel Zhuang, Learning Team Coordinator! Mabel studied Instructional Technology & Media (technology integration) in grad school at Teachers College at Columbia University, and is currently the Learning Team Coordinator for a technology education company.
Wonderland Organics: Where are you currently working?
Mabel Zhuang: I’m currently at a tech start-up in SF for business analytic research. While my title is Learning Team Coordinator, I focus on finance/controller, basically business strategy or finance-related. My company’s small enough (around 50 employees), so it’s been great getting to know my fellow coworkers. We’re not stringent on 9-5 workdays, but I try to get in early, around 7 or 7:30 am, mainly because we work with a lot of East Coast districts. It’s been pretty nice in the summer, since so many of them are out of school for the season.
Wonderland Organics: What would you describe as a good work/life balance?
Mabel Zhuang: Making time for yourself. It’s great that people are passionate about what they do, but sometimes Bay Area culture consumes you in your work. Personally, I value balance: at a point in my life, I didn’t have it, and I was burned out. Now, I’m good about making the time for what I like to do. For instance, I go out for 30 minutes, have lunch, work out. On the weekends, I check my work emails minimally. These days, I prefer to relax, have fun, and overall be social.
Mabel at Work!
Wonderland Organics: We love this! Hopefully our readers will take this to heart. Tell us a little about the start-up you were working in.
Mabel Zhuang: I was previously toying with the possibility of doing an online science lab, to make it more affordable. After working on it for a month, I discovered that I didn’t have the time or energy to maintain it. After abandoning the idea, I reached out to the previous start-up that I interviewed with.
Wonderland Organics: We’re glad that you ended up finding a job that you truly loved! So what is it that you focus on currently?
Mabel Zhuang: My current company focuses on research-based framework on our platform, helping schools understand this framework, and how technology applies to learning. All of the research is done by MIT, Columbia, etc., and is several decades old. But in one sentence? We help schools measure the impact of technology on learning.
When we collect data on teachers, students, and parents around technology and learning, this data gets input into our platform. With the platform, school leaders can log in and see what is going on in their schools and districts. They can also look at skills, whether the students have access to tech in the classroom and home, the kinds of technology, do they use it, and what types of devices are available. In terms of environment: tech will enhance learning- this data is useful because every year, schools/districts have to present to the board, and roll out different initiatives for better schools. When they make a pitch, often there is no hard data to back up these initiatives, and it is difficult to convince investors to commit money. One common program schools do is iPad integration, where schools buy one for each student for use in the classroom. Unfortunately, it’s really expensive, and is it worth for professional development? It’s hard to say.
Many of the current team members are former superintendents, schoolteachers, technology directors, and former educators who have been in the system a long time. how people learn and what they need. I love this company because they have the premise of how students learn, what they need, and what’s going on in schools.
Wonderland Organics: It’s a great area of research, one where most of us don’t often think about when it comes to education in schools. Maybe it’s because we grew up in the ’80s, when technology was getting underway. We at Wonderland Organics look forward to the bright things that you have for us in store! Do you have advice for entrepreneurs starting out?
Mabel Zhuang: Be clear on your mission and your vision for what you want to do. Sometimes people confuse goals with missions, but those are two different things. Goals are for yourself: to get to your ultimate vision. It’s really hard unless you sit down and think about it- thus, you have to define what your vision is. In one sentence, what is it that you want to accomplish? Make sure to get back to this question, because you might be consumed by day to day duties, but you have to know what you’re working towards. My current company is really good at making sure the employees know what the vision is. The management way of thinking is aligned with mine, so ultimately what we’re doing is to help kids. How we do that is helping school leaders use the tools of what they have. If you lose that, doesn’t matter how smart or driven you are. If you lose sight of that, it’s easy to burn out, to fall off our grid.
Wonderland Organics: This is excellent advice! We’re sure that our young entrepreneurs will take this to heart. And last but not least, what’s your favorite part of the Wonderland Organics blog?
Mabel Zhuang: I like the simple interface, as it’s easy to navigate. Also, I loved the post about Berkeley and the Big C– Go Bears!
Thanks so much to Mabel for talking to us about what she does! If you’re interested in technology in education, feel free to follow and interact with Mabel on Twitter here!
Miso Cod – Chaya Brasserie SF
Who doesn’t love food? Those of you who follow us on social media know that we’re guilty of Instagramming delicious morsels that we’re about to consume. We voraciously read food blogs of strangers from all over the world, but we were thrilled to meet a local food blogger. Today, we introduce to you Brenda Linkous, of Bites & Bourbon.
Wonderland Organics: Tell us about the name of your blog– how did you choose Bites & Bourbon?
Brenda Linkous: My husband, Patrick, and I both love food and drinking bourbon. It’s a yin-and-yang thing; I am the bites and he is the bourbon. The name symbolizes a balance of two things that go well together.
Wonderland Organics: That’s perfect! The name stands out in a sea of bloggers, which we’re sure is what you were going for. What got you started on your food blog?
Brenda Linkous: Growing up in a Vietnamese family that wasn’t expressive with their emotions, food was the one thing that we all bonded over. I have a strong attachment to food for that reason. I like to cook, learn and explore different cuisines. I love sharing stories with others about my dining experiences. Thanks to the encouragement of my friends, I created my food blog.
Brenda Linkous, blogger of Bites & Bourbon
Wonderland Organics: It’s true, nothing bonds people better than food (except maybe crazy experiences). We love reading your blog– the places you go look delicious, and they’re all local in the Bay! What’s the best part about being a food blogger?
Brenda Linkous: It’s meeting great people behind the food and opening myself up to explore different types of cuisines. These are artists who are expressing themselves in the form of art and that’s pretty awesome.
Wonderland Organics: We can imagine! What is your favorite meal of all time?
Brenda Linkous: This is a hard question because I have so many favorite meals. But what I always default to is my mom’s homemade bun bo hue. It’s a spicy lemongrass noodle soup with cuts of bone-in pork legs that originate from Hue, Vietnam. My mom cooks her broth for several hours overnight to extract all the great flavors of the bones for the soup base.
Ramen Bar- Pork Belly Ramen
Wonderland Organics: We’re a huge fan of noodle soup! Bun bo hue sounds absolutely mouthwatering. What’s one of your biggest achievements from being a food blogger?
Brenda Linkous: In May, I worked with Sorabol and Westfield to create an exclusive dish for a good cause and to promote Westfield’s Dine on Time app. We developed a Spring Mix Noodle Salad with Grilled Shrimp. The entire experience was really awesome especially because I was working with Chef Theresa Lee. She was humble, sweet, and generous. I also learned that Sorabol started in Oakland and was established in 1979 at 372 Grand Avenue as a fine dining Korean restaurant by a woman named Young-ran Hong, along with her husband. The event really opened up my eyes.
Wonderland Organics: We saw photos, and we were incredibly sad to turn down that invitation! Your dish looked amazing 🙂 Do you have any advice for people wishing to start on an entrepreneurial route?
Brenda Linkous: You need two things in order to be successful:  Become an expert in your subject matter and in what you wish to pursue.  Passion. This is what will fuel you.
Walnut Prawns- Great China in Berkeley
Wonderland Organics: Great advice! And last but not least, what’s your favorite part of the Wonderland Organics blog?
Brenda Linkous: There are some great sections of the site but I enjoy Skincare Tips the most because I like quick educational tips on how to take care of my skin. My favorite post is Solving Breakouts Naturally. Prior to reading it, I had no idea of the different oils that you can use for your skin.
Thanks so much to Brenda for talking to us today! Check out her blog here, and feel free to drool over the yummy places that she visits.
Have you ever wanted to be a food blogger? (Does this interview inspire you to forge ahead?) Let us know in the comments below!