Gung Hay Fat Choy! Welcome back to Watermelon Sushi World.
If you haven’t yet read the New York Times article about the phenomenon of young Americans claiming their mixed-roots heritages, you can do so at the Hip Hapa Homeez Group page on Facebook. While you’re there, please sign up to become a member; then, feel free to post whatever news you think would be of interest to blendies, mixies, transracial adoptees and anyone who crosses cultures.
In celebration of Lunar New Year of the Rabbit, Your Hip Hapa introduces you to Billy No--a clothing designer of French, Mexican and Korean ancestry.
That’s Billy in the photo to the left. To learn more about his numerous lines of clothing and all the companies he owns and operates, visit the links below:
Q: So, Billy, how did your French-Mexican mother and Korean father meet?
A: My parents met in 1972 at a factory in Chicago where they both worked while attending college. They both had the same bus route to and from work. That created an opportunity for them to get to know one another outside of work, where they soon became friends. That friendship transitioned into my father asking my mother out on a few dates; then, those few dates turned into marriage. That’s the short version, there’s more when the book comes out.
Q: Since your mother is both French and Mexican, she's also multi-ethnic. What was it like for her growing up?
A: My mother grew up in the northern part of Mexico, which is well known for their European-looking residents. My grandmother’s side of the family has the French and Spaniard bloodline and my grandfather is Indio/Aztec. Fortunately, my mother had a great upbringing, coming from a well-off family that lived both in the United States and Mexico. My grandmother’s side owned several mineral mines, and also had family that lived in Kansas for several years.
Q: With your father being Korean, what kind of meals did your family eat?
A: Our dinners surprisingly consisted of a wide variety of ethnic dishes. We never ate just one specific type of food. Meals always consisted of a blend of ethnic dishes from Asian, European, Spanish and classic American dishes. I was very spoiled when it came to food and, fortunately, I was not a picky individual when it came to food. It also helps that my mother is an amazing cook!
Q: What about the way you grew up? Was it difficult being multi-ethnic?
A: My upbringing was a bit different than most kids; I had three languages going on simultaneously growing up in the household. I had families that sometimes did not see eye to eye on things-- because of cultural differences--that were always interesting to watch. I began to develop great insights and a global perspective at a very young age. I loved every minute of it, the good and bad times; it was such an experience and still is. I just need to work on my Korean and French and I’ll be good to go. I’ve got my Spanish pretty good. People always had a healthy curiosity about my upbringing and my perspective on specific subjects like race, culture and politics for some reason. Overall, growing up as a blended kid and with a blended family has been a blessing for me, a great opportunity to experience a wide variety of foods, music and culture. Family is by far the best aspects of being a “blend”.
Q: What inspired you to start a clothing company?
A: My parents owned a few businesses in Chicago, where I began to learn the ropes of what it takes to run a business. I loved every moment. We went to McCormick Place for business trade shows and merchandising events to check the latest and newest trends. I started Blend America in the summer of 1989, when I had free time to think of a name and create a logo for the company. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with some artistic abilities, allowing me to create and illustrate logos at a very young age. I chose to create a clothing line because of its platform, a very versatile way to leave a mark and impression in the minds of the masses. I had the plan set at a very young age; I knew exactly what I wanted and how to accomplish my goals.
Q: Who are your customers? Are they mostly multi-ethnic?
A: So far, my business has been U.S.-based, from New York, Chicago, Miami, California to Arizona. I’ve had a few customers from various parts of the world, and several hundred emails with requests for new products. It’s been amazing! Blend America Clothing is a global brand that reaches out to everyone, not just a specific group, but to have a mass appeal and include everyone. I utilize my blended upbringing and perspective to ensure that my brand stays global and reaches out to everyone in the world.
Q: Any future plans?
A: All my online ventures are part-time projects. I own a graphic and web design business by
day and conduct all my other operations after hours. I am currently running four online retail
stores: blendamerica.com, blendcouture.com, babyblend.com and iwearorganic.com. These
are my main focuses at the moment, my plans is to stay focused on these four brands and
build a solid foundation and brand identity. My ultimate goal is to find a financial partner in
these ventures, so that these brands have the opportunity to flourish and compete in the
Good luck, Billy! May the Rabbit bring you great fortune.
As for us Hip Hapa Homeez, we’re in hop-step with Rabbit, too. Please remember to join our Watermelon Sushi Fan page on Facebook that supports our film. You can also show your love by purchasing a Hapa*Teez t-shirt on Café Press. Apologies for our intermittent tweeting, but if you have some good ideas on how we can become better involved, please join our Twitter page and tweet away!
Also, several months ago, Watermelon Sushi producer Robert Taylor and I began co-hosting a biweekly online show called Sexy Voices of Hollywood featuring tips from show biz types. SVOH was created specifically to help guide those desiring Hollywood careers and to financially support our Watermelon Sushi film. You can help by joining our SVOH Fan page on Facebook, and attending our “events” by listening to our shows. Here’s the YouTube address: http://www.youtube.com/sexyvoiceshollywood
Until we meet again my little bunnies...
I am Your Hippity-Hoppity Hip Hapa,