Episode 149

Aileen Xu ·  Empowering People to Create Their Dream Life

“I was just at that state where I felt like I was at rock bottom, I had nothing going for me again, but I realized, in these couple of years I tried a lot of creative paths and I'm still alive. I'm still surviving and I learned a lot actually. I learned a lot about taking risks. I learned a lot about just carving your own path, all these creative skills, entrepreneurship skills.”

Aileen Xu is a content creator and entrepreneur at Lavendaire, empowering people to embrace their true potential and create their dream life. Her YouTube channel Lavendaire has over 1.6 million subscribers. Her podcast, The Lavendaire Lifestyle, has over 7 million downloads. Lavendaire also offers a stationery line including the top-selling Artist of Life Workbook and Weekly Reset Planner.


Social media handles:

Instagram: @lavendaire

TikTok: @lavendaire

YouTube: @lavendaire @lavendairelifestyle

Spotify: lavendaire.com/spotify

Website: shop.lavendaire.com

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Podcast Transcript

Aileen Xu

Intro: (00:00:00) Asian Hustle Network has proudly partnered with Lexus to host a podcast series for Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month. We’ll feature leaders and creators in the community whose contributions inspire us, like content creator and entrepreneur Aileen Xu. We’ll discuss how she empowers people to embrace their true potential and create their dream life.

Maggie: (00:00:24) Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Asian Hustle Network Podcast. Today, we have a very special guest with us. Her name is Aileen Xu. Aileen is a content creator and entrepreneur at Lavendaire, empowering people to embrace their true potential and create their dream life. Her YouTube channel Lavendaire has over 1.6 million subscribers. Her podcast, The Lavendaire Lifestyle, has over 7 million downloads. Lavendaire also offers a stationery line including the top-selling Artist of Life Workbook and Weekly Reset Planner. Aileen, welcome to the show.

Aileen: (00:00:57) Hi, thanks so much for having me.

Bryan: (00:00:59) Of course, listening to those numbers and how far you come, I’m so proud of you. For our listeners, Aileen and I actually know each other from undergrad. I don’t want to date ourselves, but it was like 10 years ago.

Aileen: (00:01:12) A lifetime ago, I was a different version of myself then, and I’m sure you were too.

Bryan: (00:01:16) Yeah. I mean, you’ve done so much in the last 10 years, right. And I’ve been personally lucky enough to have been following along your journey the entire way. And I want to hear your story, right? We listened to your podcasts, we listened to your interviews, but on the Asian Hustle Network, we want to know more about you. Tell us about yourself.

Aileen: (00:01:35) Wow. Where do I start? Okay. I guess I’ll start with brief childhood. Okay, so growing up Asian-American household, I am Chinese American. My dad is from Shanghai. So, he came here from China. My mom is a Vietnamese refugee, so Chinese, but born in Vietnam. So, she speaks Cantonese. My dad speaks Mandarin, so I kind of have both sides of that Chinese in me. Growing up, I was like the ambitious girl for some reason. I was the achiever. I’m the older child.

I have a younger brother, so I have the older sibling tendencies of taking on the responsibility and your family, being the golden child. And then my younger brother was more like, I think he went into the role of like, not lazy, but like class clown didn’t do well in school. He kind of wanted to own his repertoire because I was already excelling in school.

I was good at piano. I think I grew up getting used to approval and praise from my parents, family, and peers. And that is kind of a positive feedback loop that is not very healthy, right? Because you begin to train your brain to crave positive feedback and approval and love, and attention from other people. That’s the deeper thread that goes through everything. And I’m sure a lot of Asian Asian-Americans can relate to that. But yeah, so I was always into music and piano. I love to sing, but I kept it a secret. I didn’t tell my friends that I liked to sing.

I was really shy growing up. I’m an introvert, a wallflower type growing up. And then fast forward, I ended up going to college at USC. And the year before, my senior year of high school was when I decided to start a YouTube channel. I’m singing and playing the piano. And this is the era of 2007, and 2008, when a lot of people were doing cover songs on YouTube.

And it was like a Renaissance because I was like, wow, I didn’t know people could just post themselves online. And I heard like this girl who was a nobody, Marie Digby. She just posted a cover of a Rihanna song, Umbrella. And then a few months later, I hear it on the radio and I’m like, wow, the possibilities like this girl just posted it online.

And now it’s on the radio. And that really inspired me to start doing that myself. And so, I started posting singing videos. Didn’t tell any of my friends. And it was the kind of thing where people started finding out, like this girl in a band was like, “Aileen, I think I saw your video on YouTube. Do you sing?” And then eventually, the secret was out, right?

So eventually I had to own up to it, yes, I have videos on YouTube and back then it was weird, it was just different. No one was doing it at that time, but YouTube helped build my confidence because like I said, I was super shy. I didn’t know how to show my real self to even my closest friends, but YouTube was my outlet to be my real self and show my real passions.

And then, friends could find me through the internet. So, the ironic, funny thing about me is I feel more comfortable sharing myself on the internet than I am with my closest friends. I don’t know why. It’s anonymity like these people don’t know you. You’re not ever going to see the kind of thing.

So that was kind of my story. And then in college, people knew that I was doing YouTube. I was just doing it for fun, doing music on the side, I was in a musical, it was just a hobby. I studied business at USC and I think this whole time, like in college, I had seven internships. I was just like, go, go, go mentality.

In high school, I was also go, go, go. I was in the Ivy program, AP, that type of person. And I felt like I was going on autopilot my entire life, just trying to achieve and do all these things until I kind of hit a crisis and a breaking point in my junior year of college. So, by my junior year of college, I had already tried a few different internships.

I got fired from a couple of internships. Because I was going in late, I learned something about myself. If I’m not motivated to do something, I just can’t do it. If I don’t like this job or this environment, I’ll not want to show up. And I’ll start being really flaky and really irresponsible.

And that was a part of me that I felt really ashamed about and it didn’t match the exterior. On the exterior, I was trying so hard to hold everything together. Because I had always been an achiever and you’re supposed to be a straight-A student. You’re supposed to be good at everything, but my body started physically not working.

I started not being able to push myself to wake up for class. I would stop going to class, and stop going to the internship. I had a group presentation where we had to give her presentation slideshow. I went late, and like, I just was so flaky. And I think a lot of friends got annoyed at me during that period of my life.

And I realized that it was depression. I realized in hindsight that I was going through a lot of internal conflicts and my body was catching up to the way I had been pushing myself my entire life. And the biggest question looming was, “What am I going to do with my life? I don’t know what to do with my life.”

What I understood growing up was you have rules and a step-by-step process. School gives you a syllabus, so how to get an A. But when it came to, “So what are you going to do with your life?” It’s so open-ended that I was paralyzed. I was paralyzed because there was no one to give me a step-by-step guidelines on how to succeed in real life.

And that was kind of the catalyst for me starting to pick up self-help books and reading books, like “how to find your purpose in life” and “what is the meaning of life?” I was pondering these deep existential questions in college, when I felt like the rest of my peers were like partying and not worrying about things like this.

So, yeah, I felt very alone during that time because I just felt like I was the only one going through it, but in hindsight, I know everyone goes through something like that. And when it was time to graduate, I followed my heart at that point. I was like, I know that working these corporate jobs is not right for me.

Cause I’ve tried it. I tried internships. I couldn’t make it work, I was terrible at it. And I needed to create a lifestyle that fit me. I wanted to create a life and a career that felt fulfilling. I wanted to do something good in the world, but I also wanted it to be abundant. I wanted everything right? But I didn’t know how to get there. I just had these big dreams and this big vision of the lifestyle I wanted to live. And I knew that taking a regular nine to five corporate life would not get me there. So, the big question was okay, I don’t know what that is, but I’m going to try to figure it out.

And so that began my journey of, okay, first, I thought maybe it means pursuing music, right. So, I started seriously pursuing music. I took writing and music production courses, and I produced and wrote an entire album. And I did an album release party. It was one of my proudest creative accomplishments.

I started auditioning for acting and hosting roles. And I did a couple of short films with my friends and just in general. I did a lot of cool projects. And also on the side, I did marketing for 626 Night Market, which is the largest Asian food festival in the US. And I joined that team when it was early, like right at the beginning.

So, I grew up with that. I was like the PR person making the videos and marketing. So it was like a period of like two to three years where I was doing, bam, a bunch of random things at the same time, just trying to explore and trying to see what sticks. And that was a very difficult time for me personally because this entire time my parents were obviously not approving.

My dad is very conservative and very traditional. So, he wanted me to go to grad school. He’s like, “Oh, what about investment banking? What about all of this high-paying, very prestigious types of jobs?” Yeah, that’s a whole other story on its own, but it was me going against the grain for those few years.

And also, remember, I was used to being like an achiever amongst my peers. My peers were all getting like big four accounting jobs, but I was like, “I’m doing music, I’m doing YouTube.” There’s a little bit of shame around that. YouTube was weird. It was so like, “Oh, you went to school and now you’re just going to do music? You’re just going to YouTube?” So, I had to, at that point in my life, learn to overcome caring about what other people thought of me. I had to release all that judgment. That’s a journey. My story can be pretty long, but anyway. So, after a few years of doing a bunch of random things, I thought music was the thing. I was performed every month.

House of Blues, I flew to New York to perform, all that stuff. But then I came to another roadblock where, first of all, music wasn’t working out as well as I wanted it to after two years. And second of all, I asked myself, “Okay, 10, 20 years down the line, do I really love music this much to be pursuing it?”

Cause I started experiencing it for real, and I hated the part about lugging my equipment from place to place to place. There’s so much logistics in music that is not fun for a performer. And I was like, “I don’t even like that concept of touring. Do I want to be 40 years old and touring? No, that’s not what I want.”

That’s not the life I want. So again, I went to my journal, which is my therapist and my journal is how I figure out everything about myself, and long story short, I decided to give YouTube a try again because at that point I kind of quit. I thought that I failed at YouTube.

My YouTube music channel didn’t grow. It was still at like 7,000 subscribers or something, and it was stagnant, right. So, I was like, okay, this is not going anywhere. I was so lost. I toyed with, oh, maybe I should go into tech and do a mobile app or something.

I was just at that stage where I felt like I was at rock bottom, I had nothing going for me again, but I realized, in these couple of years I tried a lot of creative paths and I’m still alive. I’m still surviving and I learned a lot actually. I learned a lot about taking risks. I learned a lot about just carving your own path, all these creative skills, entrepreneurship skills.

I was like, I can share this type of knowledge. What inspired me to start Lavendaire, in was spring of 2014, was just the idea that even though I haven’t figured my life out yet, I’ve learned so much in these past two years of exploring. And I want to share that.

I also want to share with people that you don’t have to live the cookie-cutter life, the safe route that your parents or society tells you to live, because I totally didn’t do that. And even though I was a failure on the outside, I had a lot of fulfilling experiences. I was happy to have taken that route.

I did so many cool things. I got to fly to Taiwan and lived there for a month to shoot a short film. Like that was really cool. And I had a lot of fun, interesting experiences just because my life was so open. If I had taken in a nine to five, I would never have had these random experiences in life.

And I think when you’re young, you should just go out and explore the world. You don’t want to lock yourself in a path too early, because at least for me, I needed time to let myself try different things and learn from trial and error. So that was kind of how I came up with this concept.

Life is an art, make it your masterpiece, right? People looking at a canvas. And I wouldn’t say your life is a blank canvas because you start with your parents, your upbringing, you have some things that you really can’t control because you started with that right. But from what you have, you can create from there.

You can be like, I want to add yellow, pink, red, whatever. Draw a flower. So, that was the concept of like build on top of the life you already have, but creating it from there, create something beautiful, create something meaningful. And then I came up with the term “Artist of Life”, which I still use today.

But yeah, that concept was born around 2014 when I started Lavendaire. And then, the Lavendaire journey has been a whole other story. I know I’ve been talking for a while. Lavendaire was a project of consistency because I already failed at YouTube once, I decided okay, I know why I didn’t make it to YouTube with my music.

I was too inconsistent. So, for this, I’m just going to be consistent. I’m just going to make a video and post it every single week on a Wednesday. So, I was consistent with Lavendaire and it grew really slowly the first year, the first couple of years, but eventually, it started to slowly grow faster and faster. And when I started Lavendaire, it was hard to find people talking about these topics on YouTube: self-love or self-help, spirituality, mindset. Anyone you found was like, I dunno, just random, weird channels. Maybe people in their forties or something.

Everything I learned about self-help too was written by middle-aged white males, basically like “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. All these books are known as classics. And I just felt like no one was doing it in a modern way from an Asian American standpoint, from a female standpoint.

And so, I really saw the gap, right. I was like, “Okay, no one’s talking about this. So maybe I can fill this gap.” And so, I’ve seen since I started Lavendaire, this whole industry starts to become more and more mainstream like meditation was so weird back then. I would not tell my friends that I meditated, right? I would not tell my friends I did Kundalini yoga, like it’s weird, right? But now it’s so mainstream like Goop made so many of these weird spiritual things mainstream. And yeah, so I’m the type that I’ve always been open-minded and into these like weird things and being afraid to share that with people, but Lavendaire gave me an outlet.

To start to share what I’ve learned and kind of express all of those things and guide other people along this journey, if they are also feeling lost there in their twenties.

Maggie: (00:15:45) Yeah. Oh my gosh, Aileen. That was amazing and there’s so much to break down there. I can tell you that you talk about it there. And we will get into that too. We have a whole hour, but we are just so impressed. You have done so much and have come so far and I can tell that you’re a very creative person, just by the way that you explain things, the analogies artists of life the canvas, and everything.

You are a very creative person. I think there are a few takeaways that I got from what you had just said. Being an introvert. I’m also an introvert and it’s hard to express yourself in person sometimes. And I think you were able to find that outlet to express yourself on social media, on YouTube, on videos, because there is that feeling of “oh, no one knows me online” and it’s like, you can express yourself that way and not have any shame or feeling of like embarrassment or anything like that. The fact that you mentioned that you were unmotivated going into the office, when you were an intern, I’m also the same way. It’s like, if I’m unmotivated, I’m not like doing something that I’m passionate about. I become very unmotivated to start waking up later and kind of like dreading getting out of myself.

Maggie: (00:16:59) But it’s like, for others, it’s like, it’s, it’s so dreadful and I just don’t know if I can like do that for the rest of my life, right. The fact that you didn’t know what it was that would make you happy. You knew that it wasn’t sitting in an office, right but you were determined to find what it was to make you happy. Some people never find that and, you just kept going.

I think the common theme is you had a lot of roadblocks, much like everyone else does. Like, we have roadblocks, we have speed bumps that we just come across and some things may not work out, right you always found a way around it, or you always found a way to like, look at the positives and you just kept going.

And that’s what I love so much about your story. Throughout this whole process, I want to know, what did your parents think about it? Because you mentioned that your parents are very strict and your father, I think you said that he had probably had planned for you, but you didn’t go with that plan and I want to know what they thought of it.

Aileen: (00:17:50) It’s a complex story because my dad, even though he’s very conservative and strict and overbearing. He is separated from my mom and he lives in China. So, he was in Shanghai most of the time, and just coincidence conveniently the time when I was going through the most difficult time in my life, he came back to visit, which is why his pressure was also very overbearing.

My dad was always the very strict, high expectation reason for a lot of my, the way  I achieve so much is kind of what he put the pressure put on our family and I understand where it comes from because he’s traumatized too, from his experience. But in my experience, there was like the power element where it just felt he was the most powerful thing in our family.

We had to listen to everything that he said, and also like a slightly fearful element where if you don’t do what I tell you, I’m going to cut you guys off. I’m not going to support you and your mom and be, there was a lot of it, it is fear-based right. It’s like controlling people’s fear and yeah so, I felt like that was difficult.

My mom is not strict. My mom is very soft and fluid and very like she’s loving and she’ll support us, but she’s also very fearful because she operates under the just, she has her issues where she operates from fear and worry. She’s a worrier. She gets stressed about everything all the time.

So just the fact that I wasn’t, I didn’t have a job that was scary for her. So, it’s, so it’s not that she was strict and yelling at me, but she was just scared and worried and that energy is not, not good. And so, I do feel like the beginning few years of my career was me trying to prove them wrong.

Like I had to succeed at all costs because I needed to prove my parents wrong and that I could do it on my own, but I didn’t have to follow what they said that all of these rebellious thoughts and mindsets are not healthy either, but it works like it. I see trauma as an away. It takes you from place to place, and then once you don’t need it anymore, you can release it.

And then you realize that you didn’t need it in the first place. That’s how I feel about my success journey is that I was striving, striving, striving, trying to prove my parents wrong. Kind of proving that I can do it, trying to prove my worth, essentially. Yes. And that’s a huge thing. I think people tie their self-worth with their success and their self-worth with their productivity.

A lot of people don’t even recognize that they do that in our school systems, you get a gold star, you get rewarded for getting an A, and so we tie, oh, that’s my worth. I’m only worthy if I achieve, I’m only worthy if I get an A blah, blah, blah and if I’m successful that journey led me to find success.

And eventually, once I got to a point on YouTube where I was making good enough money, I was making six figures. I had a million subscribers, but I was still pushing myself so hard. I was like, why? Like I have enough money? Like, I dunno I enjoy my life. I’m really happy with everything that I’ve built.

I’m proud of myself. Why am I still stressing out? Why am I still pushing myself so hard? And then I just realize it comes. It’s so deeply ingrained in who I like just from childhood, from wanting to prove myself and my worth. And so that that’s like a conversation about the deeper level, like under success.

Bryan: (00:21:07)  I feel like a lot of us are overachievers most of our life, or we have that problem, right? How much is enough? When did we stop? When did we start to smell the roses? I feel like when you’re an entrepreneur, you can’t help, but think about your business right, because there’s also that fear. What if I stop and everything crumbles?

Aileen: (00:21:28) I had to deal with that fear for a while and learned to, yeah to work through it yeah, especially as an influencer because your job is, so it goes up and down the views, the follower’s engagement goes up and down.

You don’t have control even the algorithm can change one day and it can erase so much of what you’ve built for a few years. And so that it is really scary, that’s why a lot of influencers and entrepreneurs who have anxiety and so recent in the recent, more recent years, having has been me learning to release that sense of control and release that anxiety. So, I can live at peace, whether things are good or not good.

Bryan: (00:22:05)  Yeah, that’s great advice, especially for someone like myself and Maggie, like we just don’t stop. We’re like, okay, like you have a new idea. Let’s keep going. Let’s keep going right.

Aileen: (00:22:16) It’s great that you’re inspired right. I’m not saying productivity is wrong or doing things is wrong. It’s great. When it comes from a true, honest place in your soul where you genuinely feel inspired and energized to do it. And then there’s the other place where you feel like you’re pushing it to be forcing it and it’s coming from you’re tired and you’re depleted, but you’re like, oh my God, I have to do this.

 I’ll because I set the score. I committed to this. I have to do this, like that feeling of dread that’s where it’s not from a healthy place.

Bryan: (00:22:43) Yeah, I couldn’t agree more, and just going back to your points earlier in the podcast, and to give our listeners more perspective. This is like during the recession when having a job is extremely important. It was like freelance people who play freelancing for the most field. Wasn’t even an option because like no money thing ever. I’m glad you didn’t give up.

I’m glad you kept pushing through because that is how success is, you’re not going to see success right off the bat. Like our generation expects. You’re not going to see it a year from now two years, if not three years now, but you will eventually see it if you’re consistent enough, right?

Because over time, the idea is that you get better at what you do and you get more involved with how you do things, right? So, I think that the key to success is consistency and awareness.

Aileen: (00:23:43) So much of it is also your mindset too like believing that you’re going to succeed, believing, like I had to believe so hard that I was going to be a successful YouTuber because nobody else believed in me.

I had to believe in myself because if you doubt yourself, then you’re already holding yourself back before even starting, right. Yes. So much as the mindsets, it’s also building the habits of like consistency showing up consistently even sometimes if you don’t feel like it, or even if you’re, if you feel like it’s not going anywhere because if you go back to those early three years of starting Lavendaire, it didn’t seem like it was going anywhere.

And anyone that I met with like they would ask, oh, what do you do? And on there was a part of me that’s like embarrassed because I’m like, oh, people like my YouTube are nothing, but then there’s. But then I would always answer people like I’m a YouTuber and I would, I think I had to like fake it till I made it.

Like, I would have to be. I present myself as if you’re already successful, even though it’s not 100% true, but you have to believe it’s so hard that eventually, you will make it work.

Bryan: (00:24:47)  believe in that statement to what was the turning point from you where you’re like, now you don’t have to fake it until you make it, you made it right. It was a turning point.

Aileen: (00:24:56) I think 2018 was a real turning point year beause I think anything before that felt like I was still not there yet. So, I started in 2014 and I would say money started trickling in around 2016 with small, small brand deals. But 2018 was the year I signed with a manager.

I was doing a lot of brand deals. I think it was, that was a six-figure year and what was more important than the money and the numbers was that the YouTubers is that I had looked up to like this whole time, started to know who I was. They started to recognize me like Michelle Phan and Jenn Im like all of these YouTubers that I watched for years, they started like, they were following me, watching my videos, commenting, and even inviting me to their events. So, it meant a lot to me that I reached a point in my career where my idols knew who I was and that was like, okay, this is a turning point. Like I am living my life now. Like, I was proud of myself.

Maggie: (00:26:13) Wow. That’s amazing, I used to watch Michelle Phan’s YouTube videos and I would like to copy them and just sit through the whole video, trying to copy like her makeup tutorials and it’s just so easy in here. Yeah. She’s a pioneer, but for you to go through that experience and watch videos of people like Jen, and Michelle Phan and we’re able to get to know you through your videos as well. That must’ve been such a fulfilling feeling it was pretty cool and so, with the climb of like getting more followers and subscribers. You have a community now, right? You have this community of followers who look up to you and comment on your post and content and everything like that.

I know that can feel like a lot of pressure sometimes, right? You constantly have to put out content. Did you go through any sort of burnout at that time? And if so, how did you overcome it? Because for a lot of content creators, those numbers can mean a lot sometimes, right? You’re trying to constantly get to those numbers.

You maybe had a video that went viral one day. You know the next video doesn’t. So, did you go through any burnout and how did you overcome that?

Aileen: (00:27:20) I feel like every creator if they’ve been on a platform long enough has gone through burnout because social media is tiring. It never ends it’s 24/7 and the thing it is so exhausting is you work hard; you create a video and you’re proud of it. And then you have to do it all over again all every week or depending on how often you upload, but it is tiring to crank out and try to be creative like that consistently because true creativity is, it’s not like a machine right and so it is difficult. And I’ve gone through many bouts of burnout and I feel like it’s so many things I could talk about but in recent years, I would say starting in 2019, I was burnt out 2018. So maybe 2019 was the first year that I started to slow down. I started posting less because up until that point, I was strict with my weekly upload schedule.

And 2019 was the first year that I started breaking that consistency and being okay, I need to not be so robotic with this. And I need to give myself time to just breathe just, yeah. So, I stopped being consistent as consistent. For 2019. And then I took like six weeks to travel, like in the fall of 2019, where I went to Bali, I did a solo trip.

I did a lot of yoga, meditation, breathing, and work healing during that trip. And I just needed just time. I needed to travel more. I needed time for myself because I was so burned out. And I feel like the burnout was catching up to me. Maybe it’s age. Perhaps it’s just been like all the years of pushing, pushing, pushing, but since 2019.

Ever since then, I have been working on healing and releasing the part of me that needs to push so hard. A part of me cares about the numbers. The part of me that is so my self-worth is so tied to the success of YouTube and my channel and my business because. Yes, creators can get so tied up with the numbers that your emotions and your anxiety go up and down with things that can go viral.

It feels the, and then the next week, next month, but things seem to go down and then you get anxiety is this it like, is it all gonna come crashing down? And it’s just a never-ending roller coaster. That’s not fun to write for the rest of your life. And I was like, I don’t want to, I don’t want to live like this.

Like I should be enjoying, I’m living my dream life right. I have what I need everything, but why is my, like, mental health still suffering and so I realized, okay, I need to exit this. I need to find peace. I need to find inner peace so that I don’t care about external success. I need to find internal success and internal balance.

Bryan: (00:29:57) Thank you for putting it on and staying so transparent with us. That is what we need to hear right. And I feel like it’s something that still today, not a lot of creators talk about is. Is that sense of feeling of what is it? When did we slow down to like, enjoy ourselves and enjoy our life and take care of mental health right? Because it isn’t healthy to like focus on the numbers for like 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 years. That sounds not fun at all

Aileen: (00:30:23) Because when you’re in that state, it becomes never-ending right. It’s just, that you reached a certain goal and then you’re happy for maybe a day and then you’re like, oh, what’s the next goal.

And then the next goal, and then the next goal is, and it’s never-ending. And that chase is never going to bring you true happiness or fulfillment. It’s just temporary happiness. So yeah, it’s like getting in touch with your spiritual side is all about releasing the external and finding peace and you realize that you could have found peace and happiness. All along, even without external success, there’s nothing you need to prove to others. Nothing, right?

Bryan: (00:30:58) So out of curiosity, what brings you a sense of fulfillment right now and happiness?

Aileen: (00:31:05) I’ve learned that I like, I have an inner joy and I operate best when I follow that inner joy. Like sometimes that joy just wants to travel. Sometimes that joy wants to create a really beautiful video tight. So, I feel like following that part of you, that lights up is how we should live life. Because most of the time we’re pushing ourselves based on our minds, what are my, oh, I should be doing this?

I should be doing that. Oh, it should be smart to do that. Let me, so most of the time we’re not following like our heart and what’s that. The thing that lights us up, we’re following everything else we think we should be doing. So, yeah, I’m learning to just follow that genuine place cause you have like an internal compass, it will guide you forward.

I think people are afraid if they let go of that. Like the mind that wants to achieve and wants to set goals and achieve them, people are afraid. If they let go of that, then they’re not going to do anything in life. I think that’s their fear. Oh, I’m going to fail. I’m going to be a nobody, blah, blah, blah.  

But I find that. Like change is natural, change is constant. Even if you’re not trying to change, you’re going to change. So, you can follow, like you can ride change from like an honest, genuine, joyful place or you can like try to force your life to change, which is what a lot of people try to do. But you think there’s like an internal difference between those two?

Maggie: (00:32:23) I think you put it together really beautifully. And I think a lot of us, especially in the Asian community, we’re often told we should be this, or we should be that. And especially like growing up are a lot of our parents had told us you need to be this when you grow up, you need to go into a specific career.

So, as we reach a certain age, we’re always told what to do. We’re always given these directions and instructions and then realized then that doesn’t make us happy right or oftentimes we tend to think, oh, I should be doing this because this makes me happy or I just want to close this deal.

That’ll make me happy all the time. Those are not the things that make us happy. Like we want inner peace that makes us happy, right. And at the end of the day, it’s like some other underlying factor that will give us that inner peace, not like the next deal that you’re able to close or anything like that. It’s what makes us happy internally and for us to like, and seek that is very important.

Aileen: (00:33:16) Yeah and just keep in mind, that your parents love you. They want the best for you. They’re just trying to guide you based on. They wish they did themselves, or maybe what they wanted for themselves. And so, it’s not coming from like a bat.

They’re not trying to ruin your life. They’re trying to help you in their way, but yourself, you’re the one living your life. You can’t let other people tell you how to live your life. You can listen, you can take it as guidance. You are the filter, whether you want to take it in or whether you want it to suck, set your boundary and not accept it because not everyone’s opinion is right.

You shouldn’t listen to what everyone says which is how I used to be. I was a people pleaser. I would listen to it. I’d be pulled in all directions, but you have to connect with your true self, like your internal sense of like direction. You have a compass with it and so tune into that and get like grow that part of yourself so that when someone is telling you something you’ll feel okay, is this right? Is it, should I not listen to this? Like, you’ll have a better.

Maggie: (00:34:18) Yeah, like your intuition will become stronger. So, I would love to learn about your stationery line. I want to know, like what brought you to create something like that and just like going into like the Instagram and like looking at the content for your station online, it’s like, it’s so aesthetically pleasing and you don’t see a lot of stationaries that are all about wellness.

You know, making sure that you look after yourself and making sure that your mental health is good. So, I do want to know, what brought you to create that stationary line. And now you’ve expanded to like different products as well. So, tell us a little bit about it.

Aileen: (00:34:53) I mentioned that journaling is a big part of my journey and helping me get to where I am now because I feel like journaling is one of those ways to build your intuition and your connection with yourself and journaling.

The key to good journaling is like asking the right questions, right. Asking the right questions can reveal different parts of yourself. And you’re like, oh, like that’s how I feel or what’s blocking me, what’s holding me back. So, it’s such a powerful tool and in my journey, I’ve, I’ve done a lot of different journaling exercises.

I kind of like to create my prompts and my little graphs and, and fill them in myself. And so, at end of 2017, I came up with the idea to kind of put these exercises all into this digital PDF. I called it the artist of life workbook because it was essentially your guide to figuring out who you are, and what you want.

And, and creating that step-by-step meaning like every month you can set your goals for the month and then check your habits for the month. It was a system of all the things that work for me, all the things I learned from books. Every, like all the knowledge I could distill into like an actionable workbook I created into that digital PDF and that the reason why it has to be like a workbook for people was I realized self-help like, I can only teach so much through my videos.

I can teach a lesson, but I don’t, but everyone’s path is different. So, like it’s so nuanced, like you kind of have to figure it out for yourself. I can tell you what to do. You have to figure it out yourself. I can only give you the frameworks and and the exercises. So that’s what it was.

And after people, after it launched, people were like, oh my God, I would love to buy a physical version. Are you going to make a physical one? And so, because of that, and also the fact that my boyfriend was working in the industry of like e-commerce sourcing manufacturing stuff from China, he was, I could find a way to get this need for you if you wanted to make it physical.

And that’s how it started. So, I started, I ordered like a small batch of like a hundred workbooks the first year I sold out of that. Every year, I just grieved it and upgraded the look and feel of it. I don’t know, just the quality and the content upgrade every single year. And it’s been, I don’t know how many years, but since 2017 was the first year that it came out and now the shop has evolved every year I kind of added a new product.

Oh, let’s add a daily planner. Let’s add a weekly planner and this and that. And so. So, I enjoy designing products for the shop, and yes, it is different than normal stationery because I infused the personal development and self-care element into it. After all, that’s a huge part of my channel. So, everything starts with an intention.

All of our products are made to be like a guide to help you create your dream. Like your workbooks are like your best friend. If you’re feeling lost, you turn to a page and there’s an exercise for you. If you’re dealing with fear, there’s an exercise for you. So, it is a tool for empowering people in their lives to be an artist of life. And I’m proud of out of the shop yeah.

Bryan: (00:37:54) Wow, I mean hearing you talk about it like you hear your story on the podcast, I can see that this product that you created is an extension of yourself, right? It is like their personality. So reflected in this product. And I, myself, I’m also a really big journal.

I journal a lot as that is almost every day. And I can almost attest that that made a huge difference in my mental mind state right because a lot of times I feel like we already know the answers. And we know like what you want to do. Well, it’s always clouded by our parents’ judgment or peers’ judgment, what society potentially thinks of us.

What’s the random guide on the internet? Think from last year, it’s like things like that, but I feel like essentially, you already know who you are inside and you just have to like, be more aware to bring up. So, I mean, I know we’re running out of time, but I have one burning question right.

And I want to hear, and to me, I consider you a very experienced old school, like YouTuber. How have you adapted to the newer platforms? Like TikTok and reels, I feel like a lot of YouTubers who started earlier is they have trouble adapting to the newer platforms right. But I want to hear about your experience, what is it?

Aileen: (00:39:07) There are different angles. You can come that with this because as an influencer, I remember when to talk was musically and people were, are already encouraging you to get on it. So, I did get on it. And I think some like, obviously it’s good to be an early adopter and some people did do that, but just in, in the bigger picture, it’s exhausting with all these different platforms as an influencer because of you’re so used to, for example, YouTube, you’re used to creating horizontal videos. You’re used to creating longer videos, and then now everything’s vertical. Now everything’s short. It’s a completely different format. To be honest, it’s, it’s a different way of thinking. And so, it is difficult for me. And for a while, I struggled with TikTok.

I struggled with it; I have to make more videos on it. I have to grow on it. And, and there were times where I did, be consistent. I did kind of do well and take stock and then times where I was David up and, and I had to allow myself to not be good at everything because as an influencer, it’s exhausting trying to be on all the platforms, right.

It’s impossible, 24/7. You’re the guidelines you’re okay, upload like an Instagram real TikTok for Instagram stories of YouTube videos there are so many pieces of content that you have to think about. And for me, it takes up so much energy. So, my viewpoint and everyone’s different, but my viewpoint is just to know what you’re the best at and dominate that.

And so, for me, I’m the best at YouTube. And another angle that I thought about was rabies’ new social media platforms. So, I’m a short attention span, and there’s no loyalty. You scroll to the top, you scroll Instagram reels now, and they’re people that you don’t even follow you maybe you laugh at it for like five seconds, and then you scroll on to the next one.

If you like them, you might follow them. But even if you follow them, do you go back to their page every day? No, you wait until their video shows up on your feet. And why does their video show because that video specifically went viral, but influencers are creating videos every single day?

Not all of them go viral. So, it’s a lot of work for random you don’t know when something’s going to hit and there’s a lot of instability and, back to them, there’s a lack of loyalty with these new platforms. And I don’t like that I like building, an engaged local community. And that comes from long-form.

Like there’s a place for short form. Like I have fun scrolling takes up, but do I want to be a TikTok influencer? I don’t think it’s not calling me anymore. And that’s the reason why I kind of doubled down. I put my energy into YouTube and podcasting because podcasting if you’re someone’s listening to you for an hour, they’re invested like they know who you are.

They like you, if they don’t like you, they’re not going to listen for an entire hour. So doing things that are long-form personally, is my strategy, because I’m trying to build a deeper connection with my audience. I want them to know who I am. I don’t want to have to fight and compete for vitality and try to like shock people based on, you know what I mean?

Like certain things go viral and not every single video is going to go viral and it’s even harder. So self-help is about going deep and going on that different level. So, I’ve accepted, I’m going to just focus more on long-form.

Maggie: (00:42:17) That’s amazing. I mean, I’m glad that you were able to find the thing that you were good at and you just kept going, because I think for a lot of content creators, they have to, they always think like, oh, I have to be an early adopter on this. I have to hop on this yeah.

Aileen: (00:42:30) You try but there’s a certain point where you have to evaluate your time and your energy, like, right.

Maggie: (00:42:36) It’s exhausting just like learning the algorithm for each and then it’s constantly changing as well, but I definitely can see where you’re coming from. And I agree with you that like having a loyal, following and community they’re always going to come back, right.

Because they’re following you because they know that your content is going to show up on their platform with TikTok. It’s just a little bit harder because it’s so random right on there for your page. It depends on what goes viral.

Aileen: (00:43:01)  And this is different for everyone because my, everyone’s category and case are different because I have some people who didn’t do that well on YouTube, but they were super, super talented and then they kind of like had a Renaissance and blew up on Tik Tok and I’m like, so happy for them because they deserve it, do you guys follow the Leenda Dong? Yes. Lisa was OG YouTuber, she’s so funny. And I love her YouTube videos, but it wasn’t working out for her. I know that there was a certain point. She had to like go back and get her and then TikTok fam like she’s doing so amazing. She’s so funny.

Maggie: (00:43:35)  She’s amazing. Yeah. She spoke at our conference this past week, so it’s yeah. It’s so amazing. Just seeing all of the different content creators find their true voice on whichever platform is right and I’m so glad that you were able to realize that YouTube was the thing that worked out best for you and you stayed there and you just kept going so props to you for that. So, we have one last question for you, Aileen, and the question is if you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring entrepreneur who is trying to get into content creation or someone who’s just trying to start a business, what would that one piece of advice be?

Aileen: (00:44:12) Good question. I think my advice would be you, you want to use your time wisely. Don’t try to do everything at once. I think entrepreneurs just starting are they feel that pressure to do everything because there are so many people telling you, oh, you need to focus on marketing. You need to focus on this, on this, on this, on this.

And, it can be so overwhelming and it, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin, but rather focus your energy. Most of your energy into like building your strength and building what you’re good at because. From focusing, like you want to focus your energy. It’s all about zoom, like a laser.

You want to be powerful and effective at one point. Whether, whether it is like Instagram or I don’t know, it could be anything. But learn to focus where you have the most strength and also where you have the most energy. Like I was saying earlier, we all have a light within, so recognize what part of the business makes you light up and then just focus on doing that.

And then for the rest, if you can delegate great or. I don’t know, just find a way, or maybe you do 80, 20 if you can’t afford to delegate, but 80% of your energy into the good stuff and then 20% on, on the other stuff. And let go of what you can’t accomplish. Let go of the things on your to-do list that you just can’t do because you have to prioritize your time. Your time is so valuable. Don’t try to spread yourself too thin. I hope that makes sense.

Maggie: (00:45:37) That makes amazing and perfect sense. Thank you so much for that advice. So, Aileen, where can our listeners find out more about you online?

Aileen: (00:45:45) Awesome. You can find me on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok @Lavendaire, and then my podcast is called the Lavendaire lifestyle, and the shop you go to shop.lavendaire.com.

Maggie: (00:45:56) Perfect. We will leave all of that in the show notes Aileen. It was so amazing having you on the podcast. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

Aileen: (00:46:02) Thank you for inviting me. This is fun.

Bryan: (00:46:04) Of course. Thank you, Aileen appreciates it.

Outro: [00:46:06] Thank you for tuning in to the second episode of the creative visionary series presented by. As part of Asian-American and Pacific Islander heritage month, we’ll be celebrating the contributions of other leaders and creators in the community tune in on May 18th and midnight. For our next episode, with Emma Hunkele founder of offsite, we discussed startups and entrepreneurship.