[00:00:00] Maggie Chui: Great! Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Asian Hustle Network podcast. Today, we have a very special guest with us. Her name is Trina Chan, Trina. Welcome to the show.
[00:00:10] Trina Chan: Thank you so much for having me, Maggie. I’m super excited to be here.
[00:00:13] Maggie Chui: We’re very excited to have you on the podcast as well, so let’s jump right into it.
[00:00:18] Maggie Chui: Trina, we would love to know where you grew up, where you were born and raised and what that experience was like for you during your childhood.
[00:00:25] Trina Chan: I was born and raised in Singapore and spent a few of my formative years in Hong Kong. My mom is Korean, my dad is Chinese, so my siblings and I were lucky to be exposed to both cultures and our household. Growing up, I always gravitated towards anything creative, especially regarding art and design. I think all credit for that goes to my mom, who encouraged that growth by putting me in art classes and ensuring I always had my paintbrushes and coloring supplies at every stage of my childhood.
[00:01:00] Trina Chan: Unlike my older sister, I was a painfully quiet and super reserved kid. I found it very challenging to speak up, but I discovered early on that I could express myself through art in a way that I couldn’t articulate in words. I think having access to these tools made my inner world very rich as that practice of actually painting or sketching.
[00:01:26] Trina Chan: It’s still something that I find very therapeutic and comforting even today as a 30-year-old. I’m happiest when I’m in a position where I can create. After high school in Singapore, I then went on to study at Parsons in New York. Throughout my time there, I secured these internships at headquarters places like Alexander Wang, Balenciaga, and Christian Jor in the LVMH building.
[00:01:52] Trina Chan: I was a sponge. I was so hungry to learn. I said yes to every single task handed to me, even though sometimes, I had no idea what I was doing. I just really wanted to be a valuable part of the team. I think people recognized that, and that allowed one door after another to open up for me, even though I had no connections in the industry.
[00:02:16] Trina Chan: I ended up in the bay where I currently reside after taking the merchandising role. So four headquarters here before going on to help build a company called Museum of Ice Cream and now launching number.
[00:02:30] Maggie Chui: Wow, what a journey. That is so amazing. And I love that you mentioned that when you were younger, you were very quiet. You didn’t know how to express yourself. I feel like I resonate with you in that way because when I was a kid, I was always really quiet too. My parents always considered me the quiet sibling or the quiet child. I would never know how to speak my emotions or say what is on my mind.
[00:02:53] Maggie Chui: It was very hard for me to express myself the same way that you described. I’m glad you could find a way to express yourself.
[00:03:01] Maggie Chui: To articulate yourself through arts and to be creative because many people find that until a very late age. It’s incredible to see and know that you were able to understand how to express yourself in that way.
[00:03:12] Maggie Chui: When you were a kid, did you always know that you would be an entrepreneur, or was it something that you fell upon later on?
[00:03:21] Trina Chan: I think even growing up, my family had very strong examples of women in entrepreneurship. My mom had her cake store.
[00:03:28] Trina Chan: I remember going in as a kid with my sister and picking out cakes, thinking of ideas that we could build together. What type of design should the layout of the store look like? What should the packaging look like? That was my first touch point, and I understand what that would entail.
[00:03:45] Trina Chan: I would say, my grandma. She had a clothing store in Hong Kong. I think even watching her interact with her customers, every single garment had a story, had a selling point. I think even seeing those examples, it’s stuff that. I look back on it and think, wow, I had that foundation. I had that exposure so early on, and I was fortunate in that sense.
[00:04:08] Maggie Chui: Oh, wow. Yes. It’s fantastic to go back in time and see what those instances were where you could see my grandma was an entrepreneur. I had these instances where I could see my family working hard.
[00:04:19] Maggie Chui: Because for myself personally, I didn’t get to see that none of my family members were entrepreneurs. And so, for me, it was. A concept that was hard for me to grasp. I think it’s really important to go back in time and see what those instances set us up to recognize, oh, can I become an entrepreneur?
[00:04:34] Maggie Chui: Can I see myself in this field? I remember you mentioning that you got into a Museum of Ice Cream. What timeline did you start in the Museum of Ice Cream right after leaving Sephora? And then, what made you leave Sephora to pursue that position at the Museum of Ice Cream?
[00:04:52] Trina Chan: My Museum of Ice Cream was started by one of my good friends with whom I went to school at Parsons. And she had come to me with this idea of Trina, I’m opening up this location in LA. We started in New York, and I just need support on the retail side. I need help thinking about partnerships.
[00:05:08] Trina Chan: And so, I started taking on these side projects as I worked at Sephora from nine to five, I would be at my desk job. When I would go home, it would be everything at the Museum of Ice Cream. Scouring products that we could build partnerships, even that we could land, and helping her with that grew to a size where all of a sudden, I had to commit full time to it.
[00:05:29] Trina Chan: I think that opportunity was pretty interesting. I remember talking to my parents about that at the time, and they were like, what are you doing? This is not even a proven concept, and you will give up such a cushy job and job security, not just that, but also healthcare. Your 401k, you’re going to compromise all of that.
[00:05:47] Trina Chan: In my gut, I just knew if there’s a time to try anything like this, it would be now. I don’t have any other responsibilities aside from myself. My rent, which I knew I could cover. I feel like I just wanted to take the leap and try. I think the biggest thing is I was able to be creative for the first time.
[00:06:04] Trina Chan: I was able to create installations. I was able to develop products that we sold in the store. That, to me, was just so fulfilling and not just that, but scaling the team. So going from a team of five to a sudden group of 30, essentially overnight, we opened up our headquarters in New York. That was an experience in itself.
[00:06:23] Trina Chan: I think that was a firsthand seat into what it was like to build a company from the ground up.
[00:06:29] Maggie Chui: Amazing. I remember when the Museum of Ice Cream came out in San Francisco. That was when I was living in San Francisco. It was like this new concept that no one had heard of before. It just was so aesthetically pleasing that everyone was just like, ready to jump in on it.
[00:06:43] Maggie Chui: What is this Museum of Ice Cream thing? I kept seeing many people like to take Instagram photos of it and put them out on their Instagram stories. I was like, Oh, my goodness. People were just lining up. I remember lining up, and the line was so long. The execution was just excellent, and it got so popular fast. I still see it, going on today and just wanted to commend you for all the work you’ve done for it because I’m sure it must have been so crazy and very busy for you during that time.
[00:07:11] Maggie Chui: Can you walk us through what things you have learned during your time at the Museum of Ice Cream? That prepared you to propel into, like full, being a co-founder or founding your own company. What were some of the things that you learned?
[00:07:24] Trina Chan: Totally. I think, from a team perspective and how you lead the team, everyone was so young, and it was all our first time creating something new together and leading teams. I think it was all trial and error. There are certain elements that I understood. Okay. If I were ever to create something that was indeed mine, I would want to lead it differently. I would maybe want to use a different tone.
[00:07:47] Trina Chan: I want to be a little sterner in these areas. I think just even learning what my leadership style was, in comparison to all the rest of the founding members, was crucial. I think there are a lot of learnings that I apply right now. But this is also where I learned the power of brand identity and the importance of utilizing various means to reinforce it.
[00:08:07] Trina Chan: So whether it’s the green box that is number eight, glass jars come in, or the printed brochure that explains our ingredients that come with it, or even the social identity of our social media content, everything that we put forth has to compliment the sensibility of our brand. I’ll be the first person to mention, like, hey, our font here, ISN is incorrect, the shade of green here is too dark, or our logo seems stretched out too wide.
[00:08:33] Trina Chan: As a creative artist, you understand that those are the details that matter because that means establishing a full-on cohesive brand identity. I think those were the learnings that I believe were most crucial to me, aside from, of course, understanding how to pitch a product and understanding how to sell yourself.
[00:08:52] Trina Chan: I think we had mentioned, as we spoke, we both identify as introverts. So the Museum of Ice Cream was the first time I was pushed to go into a room, sell myself, introduce myself to people, and network. To me was something that I found very uncomfortable. But I got comfortable with the idea that I’m going to sit through this discomfort because I just have to do what I have to do and get myself out there.
[00:09:17] Trina Chan: I’m very grateful for my time there, and I learn a lot about myself and how I want to be a leader.
[00:09:23] Maggie Chui: Yes, that’s amazing.
[00:09:25] Maggie Chui: Let’s talk about number eight for a little bit. If anyone has seen the bottles and the jars of No. 8, you can immediately tell that you put so much detail and attention into the design. Can you tell us what No. 8 is? And how did you come up with a name, and how did you come up with the plan?
[00:09:43] Trina Chan: Our company, No. 8, specializes in naturally derived neotropics. For anybody unfamiliar with that term, a neurotropic is essentially a compound that improves your cognitive functions, like your memory and your concentration, and there are two different types.
[00:10:00] Trina Chan: There are natural neotropics derived from plants. The most well-known one that we all probably use is coffee. And then there’s more synthetic neotropics, which is something like Adderall, so it’s lab-created compounds. At No. 8, we only utilize naturally derived neutrophils with proven efficacy in healthy adult humans.
[00:10:21] Trina Chan: Now, I emphasize this because I learned through the doctors on our wellness council that a large majority of supplements on the market utilize test tubes and labs where their product claims the findings from that. Often, that doesn’t necessarily translate to a fully functioning adult human body.
[00:10:42] Trina Chan: Not only that, many manufacturers overdose on their active ingredients. So for our team, it was very important to find the supporting literature and supporting data from double-blind clinical trials in humans to help every single active ingredient down to the exact dose.
[00:11:02] Trina Chan: We share on our website. The reason behind that is we want to equip our customers with the information they need to go to their physician, especially if they’re currently on medication. Help them evaluate whether this is the right product for them. We now sell our gummies online at eight. health and we have recently announced our exclusive partnership with the Four Seasons Hotel in New York, which is our first real-life touchpoint.
[00:11:27] Trina Chan: From a branding perspective, diving deep into just how that came about, we began building this brand at the height of lockdown in March 2020. It started with multiple focus groups among our friends and our family. They got candid on areas that they’re struggling with.
[00:11:46] Trina Chan: Our team was also very open about the different areas we needed extra support on. That’s how we can land on our core product line, sleep gummies for jet lag. We have energy, which is gummies for fatigue. We have focus, which is gummies for brain fog. And then we have a calm, which are gummies for stress.
[00:12:07] Trina Chan: I think to kick off the design process, we asked all of our friends, hey, please send us the medicine cabinets. Like where do you store and how do you keep your supplements? We received a lot of pictures of clear plastic bottles that were just shoved away somewhere that never saw any daylight.
[00:12:25] Trina Chan: It wasn’t a highlight of anybody’s day. And that presented a really big opportunity because we know that if you want to establish a good habit, it has to be enjoyable. That experience has to be enjoyable. This is where it also drew my experience with the Museum of Ice Cream and how we wanted to make people feel as if they were interacting with a room, a product in their hand.
[00:12:49] Trina Chan: I wanted it to be something you would enjoy having on your kitchen counter or jazz. It’s meant to serve as a vehicle for self-care, a reminder to carve out these little moments in your day just for you. From my perspective, the halo effect of good branding is that it spurs conversation.
[00:13:08] Trina Chan: It becomes this multiplier effect because if something catches your eye, it will probably spark some curiosity. The glass jars encourage people to ask and share about their wellness practice. And hopefully, that also opens up the opportunity to tell others about brain health and mental health.
[00:13:28] Maggie Chui: I love that so much. I agree with you. I think a lot of the supplements or gummies we buy from, like Costco or your more prominent manufacturers, come in plastic bottles where you’re right. I just store them in my cabinets, and I don’t even want to look at them because it’s not aesthetically pleasing.
[00:13:48] Maggie Chui: And often, I forget to eat them because I just like storing them in my cabinets. But honestly, like to the listeners out there, like the branding and the design for the No. 8 bottles, it’s so beautiful. You can see and tell from the intricate details on the jar. It’s incredible.
[00:14:05] Maggie Chui: I do have a question. In terms of that, I feel like this is a polarizing question because many people say when you first start a business, you should just do it. You can think about the design and the branding later because I feel like many people get so stuck on that.
[00:14:20] Maggie Chui: I just overthink it a little bit like they can’t come up with a design that they like, but they will end up perfecting it later. But I feel like you have come from a background with a lot of branding experience. You have had experience working with a bunch of designer brands and fashion brands.
[00:14:38] Maggie Chui: I feel you had that experience in your background. And so, what is your take on perfecting the design of your product or packaging, rather than just doing it and perfecting it later on and seeing how it transforms later on?
[00:14:54] Trina Chan: I’m probably very biased because I would put a design on an equal platform to science and what we do. I think that to me, you only have that one chance when you place your product in somebody’s hand. It’s that one opportunity to make an impact. And that, to me, is something I wanted to nail down.
[00:15:14] Trina Chan: So for us, I think overall, if this is something that you don’t want to place too much importance on, I think that’s fair. Design is something that you can continually refine over time. I would say the same for any sort of vertical within the company as well. You don’t have to get it perfect the first time.
[00:15:30] Trina Chan: And I would say that is also the beauty of being a startup and an entrepreneur. You get to know your audience over time, and they can help inform you about what they like and don’t like. You tweak it as you go. And I would say that is the beauty of social media. Our community is very spoken.
[00:15:46] Trina Chan: They will let us know if there are certain ingredients that they don’t like. If certain aspects of the brand don’t align with them, then it’s always good to hear them out. I think as a founder and entrepreneur, you have to be crystal clear on what your intention is and build from there.
[00:16:00] Trina Chan: So I would say design, yes. For me, it can be a second, like on the back seat. I would argue that it is essential because you can capture someone’s imagination and attention right off that.
[00:16:14] Maggie Chui: Oh, yes. I feel like first impressions matter the most.
[00:16:17] Maggie Chui: I feel as soon as a customer sees a very beautiful or aesthetically pleasing product. They are more inclined to buy it because it looks interesting. I want to try it out.
[00:16:28] Maggie Chui: I feel a lot of the time, we tend to relate to the founder of the product a lot more when we’re able to see ourselves being more physically attracted to it or emotionally attracted to it.
[00:16:39] Maggie Chui: I feel your product and packaging give out those emotions. I just love it so much. I can tell the love and the effort that you put into it.
[00:16:47] Trina Chan: Yes. I think the biggest compliment that I’ve received so far, is someone had mentioned, oh, you guys are like the ESOP of the supplement category, and that to me was like the gold stamp of approval.
[00:17:00] Trina Chan: I think even on that front, getting recognition from the design world and just how we have created our products and curated it. That’s just been meaningful to me because that’s the community I see myself in. To be embraced by them has been so influential.
[00:17:16] Maggie Chui: Yes, that’s amazing. You have a couple of different products. You have gummies that give you energy. That gummy that helps you sleep. Gummies that make you calm or give you focus. A lot of these obviously would need to consult with a medical expert. There’s a lot that goes into it.
[00:17:33] Maggie Chui: I know that you mentioned to me previously that you did not have any medical experience or medical background in the past. And I think that is so amazing because I feel like for a lot of entrepreneurs when they start a business, they get so caught up in thinking, I have to be an expert in X, Y, Z to sell a product in X, Y, Z.
[00:17:49] Maggie Chui: I feel like that’s a really big misconception. You might need to know the fundamentals of it, but you don’t need to be an expert in it because you can hire people. What was that process like for you? How did you find the right people and medical experts on your team to help you come out with the right product?
[00:18:07] Trina Chan: When it comes to science, I understood that we needed real experts on board to guide us. That led to the formation of our wellness council. And as you mentioned, I have no medical background, nor do I have any friends who were doctors in that space that I could use as a sounding board for this idea.
[00:18:28] Trina Chan: So I came across our Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Bowen, J, on Instagram. Dr. J is a fellowship-trained neurosurgeon and spine surgeon at St. Jude. He did his undergrad and med school at Stanford. And then, he completed his neurosurgery residency at Johns Hopkins. So I DM’d him on LinkedIn, and thankfully he was down to jump on a call and hear our pitch.
[00:18:54] Trina Chan: Shortly after that, I found our second wellness advisor, Dr. Tovio Choi, on YouTube. He gave a Ted Talk talk about the parts of our brain that hold human consciousness. I found that to just be fascinating. Dr. Choi is a professor at Stanford university and he’s a neuropsychiatrist.
[00:19:14] Trina Chan: I just went on their website. I sent a cold email, and thankfully he was open to taking a call. And then last but not least, I was a massive fan of our third wellness advisor Neal, who’s also known as the brain coach on Instagram, and she’s a Ph.D. candidate in neuropsychology. When I discovered her Instagram profile, she had around 200,000 followers.
[00:19:38] Trina Chan recently surpassed a million, and it was incredible to see her achieve that milestone. But I was drawn to Neal’s content because it was relevant to the topics I was exploring in therapy for the first time. And so, I decided to shoot my shot, reach out, and as luck would have it, she was also open to just taking a call with me.
[00:20:00] Trina Chan: I would say that Neal’s been instrumental. Teaching me how to build our community on social media, but she’s also the reason why we can confidently share things like grounding exercises for panic attacks or breathing techniques that are proven to reduce anxiety.
[00:20:18] Trina Chan: These things I do daily and just take a moment, right? I love doing this, and Maggie, if you would just humor me in doing this as well, it’s two breaths in through the nose. The second breath is shorter than the first and exhales through the mouth, so it goes.
[00:20:33] Maggie Chui: I’ve heard of that before.
[00:20:36] Trina Chan: That is what you call the physiological. Dr. Andrew Huberman has a great explanation for this on his podcast, Huberman lab, and TLDR. This technique allows for a greater intake of oxygen and an offload of carbon dioxide. I feel like anybody who works around me always hears this every hour.
[00:20:56] Trina Chan: It’s just me breathing. I’m not crying, but I think everyone who signed on with us on our wellness council was just super hands-on. Every stage of formulation to content development and helping to rally their communities around us when we launched as well. Ultimately, each signed on because they understood the importance of reaching a younger crowd to begin spreading the word about brain health and mental health.
[00:21:26] Trina Chan: Because in reality, neuro-disorders like Alzheimer’s, for example, are entirely preventable, and their lifestyle changes that we can make to prevent this, or just at least delay this from happening. So we, as a team, all fundamentally believe that your brain and mental health are things that you should tend to daily, in the same way, that you take care of your teeth.
[00:21:51] Trina Chan: You can be eating the healthiest diet. You can exercise very regularly, but if your connection to yourself is broken, you can genuinely manifest physical ailments and illnesses in the body. That’s what we want to shine a spotlight on. That’s why with all of our messaging, we make it clear that it’s about the routine.
[00:22:11] Trina Chan: It’s not just the product, just because you’re taking calm. It doesn’t mean you’ll be calm for the rest of your life. It’s more. What other habits are you building to foster a sense of calm in your life? The gummy should only be a small component that supports you in that journey.
[00:22:28] Maggie Chui: Yes, I think you put it together very beautifully. And this, I feel like this goes for a lot of things. I feel like when a lot of people think about me doing this every day, like, why am I not seeing the results? But you have to think about the external things you’re doing to get to those goals.
[00:22:44] Maggie Chui: And when you talk about brain health, mental health, many of us don’t think about that daily. We’re always thinking about working hard every day, putting our heads down. But honestly, when we take a step back, we reflect and realize and think about how we can work even better rather than working harder.
[00:23:05] Maggie Chui: It helps us just reflect and think about, what are some of the things that I can do to make this a better routine for myself because we get so burned out all the time that we don’t think about the things that we can do to set ourselves up for success.
[00:23:19] Maggie Chui: We can do things to make our routine a little bit better. It’s essential to think about those things because we’re just going to get so burned out, especially in the Asian community. When our parents always tell us we must work hard, we must put our heads down.
[00:23:33] Maggie Chui: But in actuality, we can only do as much as we can allow ourselves to do. We need to think about mental health and our parent’s generation. They didn’t think about all that stuff because there was not enough research. It’s not their fault.
[00:23:46] Maggie Chui: There were not a lot of people talking about mental health. There were not a lot of people talking about therapy. Especially after the pandemic, I feel like a lot of people have been talking more about treatment and how mental health is such an essential factor in our lives, just as physical health is.
[00:24:03] Maggie Chui: And now we’re starting to look more into mental health therapy and everything like that. And my question is, being in an API-founded company, I know you’re doing a lot of work to help destigmatize mental health within our API community too, so I would love to learn what were some of the things that you did to help destigmatize mental health in our API community?
[00:24:24] Trina Chan: Totally; the first thing is also wanting to highlight the importance of representation because, during the brand ideation phase, several well-intentioned advisors warned us against positioning ourselves as Asian-founded. Because with the racialization of C, there was just concern over xenophobia or bigotry towards an API community negatively affecting our business. Ironically, these discussions strengthened our team’s stance in doubling down and wanting to represent our heritage and where we come from.
[00:25:01] Trina Chan: I think it was super important that we supported each other in not allowing fear to take us, hold us back in any way, shape or form from taking up space. And for us, it shows up in several ways. In Chinese culture, No. 8, as we all probably know, symbolizes harmony. It symbolizes balance. And that is because it’s symmetrical no matter which way you slice the eight, whether horizontal or vertical.
[00:25:25] Trina Chan: And that for us, we believed fully, that was a way to showcase our belief in the mind and body connection and bringing harmony to both the body and mind. And not just that. In addition to honoring our team’s Asian heritage with our name, we also chose to highlight our gummy flavors, the Southeast Asian flavors we grew up eating in Singapore.
[00:25:46] Trina Chan: That was something I was very proud of, especially when people said, just do a Berry blast, just do a strawberry lemonade thing that people would quickly identify. That, to us, was not compelling enough. We just felt like that would lose its appeal. We just wanted to be able to make a statement through our products.
[00:26:04] Trina Chan: When it comes to the mental health component, a lot of what we do as activities online, a lot of what we challenge through our content is, how are you? Speaking to yourself, how are you spending your time? What content are you choosing to consume? What thoughts are you choosing to ruminate on?
[00:26:20] Trina Chan: All this affects how you show up and function, even from that standpoint. I think, when it comes to the AAPI community, understanding that your parents may not fully get where you are. That’s okay. What you can make sure to just keep in check is yourself. How are you feeling? Make sure you’re showing up in your best light, in the way you want to, in a way that’s genuine to you.
[00:26:43] Trina Chan: And I think that’s the most that we can do and making sure that, of course, if our parents are open to hearing us out and hearing our journey, that’s beautiful. But sometimes, that’s not always the case, and you don’t have to beat yourself up over that. You don’t have to feel pessimistic about that. Just know that the things that you can change are within your control; anything outside of that, let it go.
[00:27:03] Trina Chan: It’s okay. I think that’s the biggest thing that even I’m still coming to terms with as an adult, there’s sometimes, I get so worked up over certain aspects, specific topics that I’m just like, I wish people would understand. I hope they just get it right because it would make things much more manageable.
[00:27:18] Trina Chan: But that’s life; it doesn’t always happen that way. We have just learned that it’s okay. It’s okay to sometimes even not feel okay. To sit through the discomfort, sit through the pain, and know that it’s teaching me something, I’m going to look back maybe a year from now, and this is going to be a huge stepping stone for me and where I’m at today.
[00:27:37] Trina Chan: That’s how I choose to look at my overall mental health journey. I think I’m always going to be a work in progress. There’s never an end goal. There’s never an end date, it’s always just going to be me chipping away at this, learning as I make mistakes, and forgiving myself for those mistakes.
[00:27:53] Trina Chan: I think leading by example, opening up these conversations within our community to know that it’s okay to talk about your feelings. It’s not how we were raised, but that’s cool. And just being able to articulate ourselves that way, even if you’re not ready to talk, you don’t want to participate in those conversations.
[00:28:10] Trina Chan: Even just showing up and listening is very powerful because it helps you think about it. Do I agree with this? Is this how I also want to change my course? Do I want to consider this? And that is very impactful. So even though you’re not ready yet to participate in these conversations, seek out therapy. That may not even be an option from a financial standpoint.
[00:28:32] Trina Chan: I think it’s also choosing to focus on what you can control. Am I following the right people on social media? How do I feel when I get off my phone? Am I getting outside each day to get some sunlight in? Am I nourishing my body enough? How am I checking in with myself? I think we are always so caught up with the fast pace of this world.
[00:28:53] Trina Chan: It’s sometimes very easy to forget about you, and that’s something that I think we all just have to protect for our own sake. Just being able to show ourselves some kindness and love in the same way that we would show our family love and support.
[00:29:10] Trina Chan: So it’s going back to how we are evaluating what we can control in our lives. How do we make the best out of what we have?
[00:29:18] Maggie Chui: Love that. When you said it’s okay not to be okay, that’s true. I think it’s so hard for us to see that in the Asian community because there’s such a big thing about saving face, right?
[00:29:32] Maggie Chui: Like our parents always want to save face, and anytime something wrong happens to us, our parents never want us to expose it or tell other people about it. But there are things that we can’t control, and that’s okay. As you mentioned, the only thing we can control is our thoughts, emotions, and reactions toward the things that happen to us.
[00:29:50] Maggie Chui: There will always be things that happen to us, whether good or bad, but it doesn’t mean that we have to have an adverse reaction to those things that happen to us. You put the nail on the head. There are things we can control and things we can’t, but the things that we can do are our reactions and our emotions toward those things that happen to us.
[00:30:10] Trina Chan: Absolutely. Yes, and one thing to add to that, too, you don’t have to entertain every thought that comes to your mind thoroughly, right? Especially if it’s negative, I feel like that’s something I’m still working on and how I have learned through therapy. Hey, I’m giving it life if I’m thinking about something.
[00:30:26] Trina Chan: Just being able to change course and think, hey, this is just a thought. What evidence do I have to support this thought more often than not? It’s just based on nothing out of fear and learning. How to challenge that has been pretty liberating and understanding, like, I don’t have to believe everything that comes to mind.
[00:30:46] Trina Chan: That is the whole power of our brain of neuroplasticity. We have the ability actually to change how we think, change how we behave. And that is true, of course, easier said than done. Frequently, it is very painful to just put into motion as, oh, yes.
[00:31:02] Maggie Chui: Sometimes, I say no response is a response, right? Sometimes, you don’t have to entertain those thoughts, those emotions that come your way. But having no answer is sometimes the best response. Because you don’t have to pay any attention to it, but you bring up a really good point.
[00:31:19] Maggie Chui: So I want to talk a little bit about when you first started with this brand No. 8 kind of talking. A bit like competition as well; at that time, I’m sure in the market, there were a lot of other gummy brands out there that were probably doing something similar.
[00:31:33] Maggie Chui: Did you have any pushback from others? Especially being a woman, an API founder, and a person of color starting a business in gummies, many people might have thought that there are so many other gummy brands out there. How are you going to compete against them? What was your approach to this?
[00:31:52] Maggie Chui: And as I can see now, you’ve made your brand stand out. Among all these other gummy brands, I want to know what was going through your mind. What was your thought process going into this market, and how could you achieve that competitiveness against other brands?
[00:32:10] Trina Chan: I feel like just taking a step back, not even with gummies, I think I shared with you. I attended my first trade show this year, and it was very deliberate. I mapped out every booth of my favorite brands, and I’ll never forget walking up to my former famous tea brand. I had long supported and assumed it was Asian-owned because its assortment featured ceremonial, MAA, rich, and poor.
[00:32:40] Trina Chan: I was so disheartened as I was speaking to their president to know that he had zero knowledge of the cultural significance between their ingredients, nor did he have a single person of color working the booth. This happened several times with other brands selling Asian sauces and Curry mixes.
[00:32:59] Trina Chan: I believe that if your brand is built off the backs of other cultures and identities that don’t belong to you, you must be able to reference and pay homage to the origins and the cultural significance of your products. That was, first and foremost, how I understood. That’s how I’m going to differentiate No. 8 from any gummy brand that’s out there.
[00:33:25] Trina Chan: I want to tell a story, and not just that, I want to say a comprehensive report around brain health and how that correlates to mental health. So again, I was drawing on my experience at the Museum of Ice Cream. Every single room had a narrative. Every single product that was in the room was very deliberate.
[00:33:43] Trina Chan: That’s how I approach. Going into this overly saturated category that everybody would say across the board was like, don’t do it. Don’t do it. At every stage of our company, there was always a naysayer, but there was just so much conviction. I can do this differently. We can deliver this in a way that hasn’t been done before.
[00:34:02] Trina Chan: I would say one of my most significant inspiration points was neuro gum. It was started by two Asian men, Ryan and Ken, and I just watched it. I remember watching their shark tank episode and being incredibly amazed by how far they’ve come. Knowing that other people have done it well and done it well, there’s enough room for more people to join in.
[00:34:22] Trina Chan: I knew that my differentiating point was not just the product but social. Even though our gummies aren’t for you, hopefully, there’s something valuable that you can find on our blogs, website, and social media channels that can help inform you and guide conversations around overall mental health.
[00:34:42] Maggie Chui: Yes, and thank you for sharing that story. I’m so sorry that happened. It must have been so disheartening, and I feel like a lot of it is happening because there’s a rise in Asian flavors right now, like the rise in popularity of Asian flavors. Many companies, especially those not Asian-led or Asian-owned, are just riding on this wave.
[00:35:01] Maggie Chui: They see that Asian flavors are getting popular, so you might as well hop on it, but you’re right. Many of them don’t have Asian executives or Asian founders, and that is disheartening, and you’re right. There is more space for us to tackle and claim space for ourselves to get into the food and beverage industry, making sure that there are Asians or APIs on the team to pay a lot and relate. Educate people on what these flavors should be like. I’m glad to know and see that. People in our community are doing this, especially the neural founders, and we’ve also connected with them.
[00:35:44] Maggie Chui: It’s incredible what you guys are doing.
[00:35:45] Trina Chan: I think, there’s space for everybody to tell their stories. At every single stage, it is not just, particularly with wellness; I would even argue that it happens in the fashion industry.
[00:35:55] Trina Chan: It happens in the tech industry. There’s just so much that we’re up against, and that’s why equally, if not more important, we can be a lot louder and not as reserved and claim our stake in this. Because it helps open up more doors for generations that will come, generations that will follow us. It makes a difference whether you recognize it or not.
[00:36:18] Maggie Chui: Yes. I want to shift the conversation a little bit to you, Trina, and ask how you manage your mental health because being an entrepreneur and being a small business owner has its ups and downs, and it’s really hard.
[00:36:32] Maggie Chui: You’re literally working 24/7 and it can be tiring sometimes. Being a business owner, there are fires every single day.
[00:36:41] Trina Chan: Oh, yes.
[00:36:42] Maggie Chui: I want to know how you manage your mental health on a day-to-day basis.
[00:36:45] Trina Chan: Yes, I think there are certain non-negotiables for me. My time to sleep is my time to rest, and no one’s going to interrupt that. That’s number one. I would say even like my water intake, I always have a vast jug next to me. That’s non-negotiable, either; I feel like that’s something I’ve built up. Over time throughout the pandemic and separately, this is something that we have in common, Maggie, strength, training, and weightlifting.
[00:37:10] Trina Chan: I feel that time is important for me. I have seen such great changes, not just in my body but in my mental state. I think as someone who is somewhat of a type, just being able to also notice, oh, I’m lifting heavier weights. I feel stronger. I feel more in tune with my body. That’s very empowering.
[00:37:28] Trina Chan: I see that impact in how I show up and present myself. It gives me so much more confidence. I feel like these are things that I’m very clear on. And aside from that, of course, I sketch daily. I journal daily. Those things I do before bed help me unwind and get off of my phone entirely.
[00:37:47] Trina Chan: Those are practices that are very near and dear to my heart. It’s something I do, regardless of whether I’m working or taking time off. Those are things that I do to nourish myself. Those are things that I also encourage other people to do. It doesn’t cost any money. It doesn’t cost too much of your time, either.
[00:38:06] Trina Chan: It’s just being disciplined in that, because the benefit that you see, the halo effect that you see from that, is truly a beautiful ripple effect into every aspect of your life.
[00:38:16] Maggie Chui: Oh, yes. I love it. And strength training, yes. I remember when Trina and I met for coffee a couple of weeks ago, and that’s what we connected on.
[00:38:24] Maggie Chui: We realized that we both love strength training. Yes. You’re right. It’s one of those things where it’s non-negotiable. I have to do it because I know I’m better off doing it. Those things that, if you don’t do it in one day, you might not feel the effects of it. But if it adds up and you don’t do it for two days or three days or a week, you start to feel like what’s missing in my life.
[00:38:46] Maggie Chui: Yes. We need to set those habits for ourselves, journaling, writing, reading, going to the gym, whatever makes us personally happy and will lift the pressure off our shoulders, right? Because we’re just for sure, constantly every single day we’re told, like we have to work harder, work more, work every single day.
[00:39:04] Maggie Chui: It weighs down on us. We have to figure out what are those things that lift us and are good for our mental health.
[00:39:11] Trina Chan: Totally, yes. And Maggie, what about you aside from strength training? Just curious, is there anything that you do aside from that? This is something that nourishes my soul and body, and that’s a non-negotiable for me.
[00:39:23] Maggie Chui: Oh yes. Number one strength training. Weightlifting is my number one thing. I have to do that. Otherwise, I start feeling down on myself, not only because it’s not only like a physical thing, but I just feel weak, mentally and physically weak. It makes me feel like I’m not doing enough for my body, which greatly affects how we work when we’re not treating our bodies.
[00:39:47] Maggie Chui: We end up not doing well in our work and career. It just weighs down on us mentally. For sure, another thing is journaling. It is healthy. It helps us release all of our thoughts onto paper. I tend to write in my journal rather than typing it out.
[00:40:02] Maggie Chui: I feel like it’s more personable that way. I can sense my emotions when I’m writing it out. And then, some of the things are just like taking a walk. Like before, I didn’t get a chance to do that because I lived in a pretty sketchy area. But now, I like to walk around my neighborhood, and just saying hi to neighbors and stuff is something that I never got to do before. It helps me feel a lot more refreshed at the end of the day when I’m just able to take a walk in my neighborhood.
[00:40:30] Trina Chan: Yes. Those are the things that genuinely help to foster a sense of calm, a sense of happiness. You are giving yourself a moment to connect with yourself, to check in with you. That’s even on the journaling front, I always get so many questions like, how do I even journal?
[00:40:45] Trina Chan: What do you even write? How do you write? It’s anything that comes to mind. You can just even, as a starting point, maybe write down some affirmations for yourself, like what are the things you want to bring into your life that is good? What are things that you’re struggling with?
[00:40:59] Trina Chan: Maybe it’s bullet points, a list of just your thoughts. What do you want to do that week? What do you want to achieve? There’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s just purely, as you said, getting your thoughts down on a piece of paper and maybe even referencing that perhaps a few months down and understanding like, oh, I’ve grown, or maybe there are certain things that I still need to work on, and that’s cool.
[00:41:20] Trina Chan: At least I’m aware of it too.
[00:41:22] Maggie Chui: Oh yes. It’s amazing. Just looking back in your journal and being like, oh, my goodness. I can’t believe I thought that way before. Yes. Like, I can’t believe I was going through that early, and look how far I’ve come. And without it, you wouldn’t be able to look back on those memories and look back on how you thought before.
[00:41:38] Maggie Chui: So yes, journaling helps. So Trina, what’s next for you in the next five years? Where do you see a break going?
[00:41:46] Trina Chan: We hope to expand our distribution channels. As I mentioned, our first real-life touchpoint has been Four Seasons New York. And they are incredible partners, but hopefully, more properties are similar. Hopefully, there will be more areas where we can also encompass a lifestyle element.
[00:42:04] Trina Chan: I hope to also just include more products into our assortment, expand our distribution outside of the US and Canada, and build up our awareness overall. I think we’re at that stage right now, we’re eight months into our launch. We’re just trying to make sure that people are aware we even exist.
[00:42:20] Trina Chan: I think it’s a very exciting time to be just a founder in this space, especially with this brand, and knowing that we are also impacting our community. We receive so many DMs, and I’m the one fielding all of our DMs alongside our founding partner, Danica.
[00:42:38] Trina Chan: Just seeing that this post helped me talk to my son about this subject and helped us provide guidelines around our conversation just knowing that. It’s one simple Instagram post that’s sparking meaningful conversations. That is genuinely life-changing. It’s also encouraging me to know that there may be other things we can do.
[00:42:59] Trina Chan: Maybe there’s a book shortly, or maybe there’s more podcasts, more keynote speeches that we can give around that topic. How do we extend our reach outside of the product? I’m very excited to build and looking forward to that tremendously.
[00:43:12] Maggie Chui: I’m also looking forward to it.
[00:43:14] Maggie Chui: I know you will get there. Trina.
[00:43:16] Trina Chan: Thank you, Maggie.
[00:43:18] Maggie Chui: We have one last question for you, Trina. That is if you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring entrepreneur, what would that advice be?
[00:43:25] Trina Chan: The biggest thing is to be shameless about promoting yourself, promoting your products. This is coming from a natural introvert, right? I think you’ve got to be your own most prominent advocate in this space and remind yourself that no one can sell your product better than you can. As I mentioned, a lot of our community growth was built through our DMs. I’m on my phone every single day, reaching out to business leaders and people I admire.
[00:43:52] Trina Chan: That’s how we got connected with Maggie, and I think people would be surprised to see how willing other people are to join or even take a 10-minute or 15-minute call. I would also add to that. Don’t ever get disheartened. If you don’t get a response, if people leave you on reading, I think people tend to get tripped up over that and stop.
[00:44:13] Trina Chan: You’re not going to be for everybody, and that’s cool, but you’ve just gotta keep going. You’ve got to keep it moving. Keep one foot in front of the other. As I shared, our entire wellness council was literally through DMs. I think that’s the power of social media and what it can unlock for us today.
[00:44:31] Trina Chan: Aside from that, separately, one of our taglines is, “nourish the brain, fuel the soul.” So again, going back to what we discussed earlier as a business owner, how you spend your time is critical. You have to be mindful of where your intention lies. And by that, again, you know what content you’re consuming.
[00:44:51] Trina Chan: What are the types of people that you choose to surround yourself with? What are the thoughts that you’re choosing to ruminate on? These are questions that, maybe for some, are challenging to explore, but at the end of the day, it’s always worth doing the exercise because it will help you clarify your purpose and intention.
[00:45:14] Trina Chan: And also, if you take the time to get to know yourself, I think other people’s thoughts and actions that they’re most likely projecting become less of a stumbling block. And in that sense, your inner world can truly become in.
[00:45:29] Trina Chan: Those are the main tips that I would give aside from, of course, take care of your mind, take care of your body, but also take time to check in with yourself and get to know who you are as an individual outside of your business. Who are you as a person?
[00:45:44] Maggie Chui: Yes, thank you for that advice. I love it so much. You’re right about just reaching out to anyone you want to have a conversation with. That’s precisely how we got connected. Trina reached out to us, and I loved our first conversation you’re right; you wouldn’t be surprised to see how many people are willing to say yes to getting a cup of coffee with you.
[00:46:06] Maggie Chui: Some people may not respond, and it could be because they’re busy because I don’t know some other reason, but it doesn’t matter what that reason is.
[00:46:12] Maggie Chui: Many other people would be willing to say yes to get coffee with you, teach you something, and learn something from you. I just wanted to thank you for that advice because it’s really good.
[00:46:22] Trina Chan: Of course.
[00:46:23] Maggie Chui: So Trina, where can our listeners find out more about you and No. 8 online? Do you have any last words to share?
[00:46:30] Trina Chan: You can learn more about No. 8 by visiting eight. health or checking us out on social media platforms @weareno.8 and most importantly, as we approach national suicide prevention month in September, I wanted to close by sharing that if you or anyone is struggling with your mental, any thoughts of suicide or substance abuse, you can call or text the suicide crisis hotline, which is 988, here in the US. You can learn more about that hotline at 988lifeline.org.
[00:47:05] Maggie Chui: Thank you so much for sharing that. We will leave all of that in the show notes of this episode. It was amazing having you on our podcast today.
[00:47:12] Maggie Chui: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Trina.
[00:47:15] Trina Chan: You’re the best.
[00:47:16] Maggie Chui: Thank you. You too.