1. Where is your business based?
Planted By El is based in DuPont, Washington. We can be found the DuPont Farmers Market and various local pop-ups.
2. When did you start your business?
April of 2021
3. What inspired you to start your business?
The strong women entrepreneurs I was surrounded by while growing up in Anchorage, Alaska. My childhood best friend’s mom was a serial entrepreneur. She built a wide variety of businesses from daycares to stationery shops, and everything in between. As a young girl, it was pivotal to learn that entrepreneurship was within my reach as a woman. In high school I was a member of the first graduating class of King Tech High. While there I was mentored by the entrepreneurship teacher Mrs. Miller. With her guidance I built my first small business, “Caffeinated Corgi,” which sold drinks and baked goods during the school lunch hour. Thanks to Mrs. Miller, I gained so much first-hand experience on building and running a business I could not have gotten from a textbook.
As a Nesei (second-generation Japanese-American), my heritage and culture inspire me and are present in everything I do. A very large part of Japanese culture is making everything you can by hand. All of my embroidery and clothing are hand-sewn by my mother. Japanese culture also places a high importance on recycling items to create new things. My nursery pots as well as the cans used for my up-cycled candles are recycled from my friends here in DuPont. Part of my mission is challenging people to reuse what they have before buying something new.
Everything I do is rooted in the experiences and knowledge that my friends and family have taught me both here in Washington and back in Alaska.
4. Do you give back to your community? If so, how?
Once I began expanding my business and getting to know more of my neighbors, I learned that a large part of the community faces food insecurity. I am a military spouse. My amazing husband Riley serves in the US Army. After getting to know the other military spouses I learned just how many of these families were having to rely on food banks to eat. Because of this, I am expanding into gardening to give people the tools and education to grow their own food.
In the future, I plan to start a free seed library in various neighborhoods, similar to the book libraries you often see for children’s books.
5. What do you need most from allies?
I am asking for understanding and respect from allies. I’m often put in a position when I am the only Asian person in a group of people who do not know me very well, and am asked to be a spokesperson for all Asian people. Instead of attempting to get to know me, I will often be asked questions about Japan, or something else that’s loosely related to Asian-Americans. Rather than “How are you?,” it is often “What are you?” This role is tiring. I am just one Hapa person. I do not know everything about all Asian people. My experiences and feelings do not represent everyone who identifies as Asian. I do understand wanting to be educated on a specific topic or understand what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. I just wish people would see that I am another person like them rather than just a “token Asian-American”. I have hobbies too like any other person. I love talking about your pets or whatever the next big Marvel movie is coming out this year. I can only be a representative for myself, not all Asian people.
I also hope for a time where people are more educated and understanding when it comes to AAPI issues. Many Japanese people have served time in internment camps across the United States, especially in the PNW (Bainbridge Island, the Washington State Fair grounds in Puyallup), including my grandmother. Most people may not even realize this at all, but it is very real to me and my family. Try to educate yourself on social issues and civil rights. Do not expect that any given person from that background or your schooling will take the time to teach you.
With this in mind, I hope for a day where we can all understand and recognize each other’s backgrounds and heritages and work together to stop discrimination and oppression in its many forms. It should not be “us versus them,” it should be us versus hate.