Featured on Jul 13, 2011
"Don't be boring."
While every other kid brought Lunchables, I was sent to school with a beef tongue sandwich, and I've been expanding my palate and battling against conformity ever since. I started my first company with my sister in high school selling duct tape wallets to our friends and eventually to boutiques in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Los Angeles, creating handmade designs sourced from recycled materials and junk mail. After graduating from NYU with concentrations in contemporary art and marketing, I became my mom's wing-woman at Definity Marketing, where she consults for food companies and foreign government agencies and produces awesome events. I then launched my blog World to Table to document my food adventures and kitchen experiments, which helped me land a job at Gojee, where I now manage our community and lead recipe curation and content strategy.
- Title: Director of Community and Content at Gojee.com, Blogger at WorldtoTable.com, Co-producer of Asian Feastival
- Age: 24
- Location: Long Island City
- Contact: @veronicachan, World to Table
Starting up your own duct tape wallet company and awesome food blog, it’s evident that you are very self-driven and able to focus your ideas and passions in profitable ways. W here did you get the business sense in high school to expand your duct tape wallet sales past your circle of friends? What tips do you have for people struggling to make their passions into what they do for a living?
I guess the apple really doesn’t fall too far from the tree - my parents are both entrepreneurs, so it was natural for me to follow in their footsteps. While they always encouraged me to pursue my creative passions, they also stressed the importance of grounding my vision with a sensible business model.
When it came to expanding wallet sales, it started with straight up wheeling and dealing, going from store to store asking if they’d sell our wallets. I also invited artistic friends and acquaintances to design limited edition series of wallets. I included their personal bios in each wallet sold, and in turn, they promoted us to their own circles of friends and fans, helping to grow our wallet fan base.
The biggest take away from my early entrepreneurial experiences - if I want to make my passion into my livelihood, I can't treat it as a hobby. Ultimately, seeing your vision come to fruition is such an awesome experience, it's worth all the blood, sweat and tears.
Sharing recipes has evolved with human technology - the printed word allowed for cookbooks, television begot the cooking show, and the Internet allowed for food blogs, recipe databases, and Gojee.com. Where do you think food technology will go from here?
Personally, what draws me to recipes are the cultural and personal narratives behind them. Though there will be many more exciting advancements in the realm of food and technology, I still think that the stories behind food, the basic social element, will remain very much at the core of sharing a recipe, or sharing in general.
On Hail the Right Brain, it states, “Veronica Chan hopes to one day open a free range chinchilla farm which will include a petting zoo for the kids and maybe balloons.” Are you still aiming for this goal? If you won the lottery, what other businesses would you start up with the money?
My family used to own a family of chinchillas, and they loved to be let loose around the house. At age 15, my dream was to have chinchillas roam freely on a farm, where people could play with them - kind of like those cat cafes in Japan. That's not on the top of my list anymore, but I’d love to eventually start a business that allows me to also spend time outside and with nature. Maybe I will end up opening a successful free range chinchilla farm and start a blog called We Are NY Pets. Watch out, Matt!