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Conversations with the Inspiring Angelina Huang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angelina Huang.

Angelina, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Panama, a small Central American country where my Chinese parents met and eventually got married. Growing up immersed in Hispanic culture and having to balance it with strict Asian traditions was very challenging. My family was constantly traveling and moving back and forth between Asia and Central America, and it was very difficult for me to fit in and find my place in these two different worlds. Gradually, I discovered an appreciation for both cultures as I made friends. I also became more aware of how society worked while sharing meals with their families. Most importantly, I developed a great passion for food while sharing many meals with many friends. All the moving back and forth was still tough on kid me, but when my parents told me that they were sending me to attend high school in Augusta, GA. I felt excited about the opportunity of experiencing an entirely new culture. All the traveling early on had helped me develop an easy-going adaptability to new environments, and my desire to expand my horizon and vision in experiencing culture and food led me to pursue my university studies in California. Like many other millennial, I wasn’t sure which major to choose from. As a child of Chinese parents, I was expected to pursue a serious career. I tried my hand at Finance and International Business; but I fell in love with Aviation Administration. I had a lot of interest in traveling because I used to move so often as a child, and this major felt perfect for me as I got to learn about airport operations, commercial airlines, cargo air carriers, aviation laws, etc.

In 2011, while most of my college friends were trying to get into the airport operations field; I started working as a customer service representative for a Chinese airline. As of today, I have been in the commercial air carrier industry for eight years and ongoing. My career has given me a greater passion for traveling, for experiencing different countries, being inspired by so many cultures, and an even greater desire to learn more about all the different cuisines. Although I feel very accomplished with my professional career, I’ve always had a dream of owning my own business, something that relates to food creation. Around the end of 2016, my friend Cristina Pan Loo and I decided to start our own brand of bubble tea shop, with unique flavor profiles using tea leaves and beverage combinations from around the world. That dream was realized with the opening of our shop, Bubble & Leaf, currently operating in the city of Cypress in Orange County.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I believe obstacles and challenges make you stronger and more experienced. Like our elders always tell us: nothing comes easy in this life and even if a path is planned for you, there are still decisions to be made during your journey which will lead to obstacles and challenges. Isn’t that what makes life fun though?

Bubble & Leaf has definitely been a huge challenge and a steep learning curve for me and my husband, as well as for my business partner Cristina and her husband. We have been open for almost one year now, and every day we face challenges that allow us to grow and gain experience through our journey as business owners and food creators. I would say that starting our own business was definitely challenging and there are still many obstacles to overcome. One of the most challenging aspects in our business has been marketing. To develop and grow our brand through social media. I felt that I had a good level of expertise with social media because I use it often, but that was definitely not the case. Social media marketing is a totally different beast, this past year I have learned so much about how to run an effective social media marketing for my business, reaching out to foodie influencers and I have even begun learning Photoshop in order to create my own marketing material.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Bubble & Leaf story. Tell us more about the business.
At Bubble & Leaf we specialize in bringing a great customer service experience and serving premium and quality tea options to our customers through our #pandapower motto. I’ve always loved pandas; they are seen as fun-loving but also seen as very lazy. I want to change that view as our main theme for our brand is that we (as a team of pandas) love to drink bubble tea but we’re also very hard-working and earnest.

I would say that I am most proud of our employees. For the majority of them, it is their first job ever and watching them grow, learn, and become working professionals makes us very happy. As a new business owner, seeing how far they have come is also a reflection of how much we have learned about customer service and bubble tea making. I am very proud of our team.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
There are many barriers regarding of gender in today’s society. I have not encounter any specific challenges mainly within female leadership.

Nevertheless, my advice to anyone starting your own business, specially in the food industry is that hard work and a strong belief in yourself will pay off your effort. It never comes easy, it takes a lot of planning, research, and implementation of trials and error to even consider getting started. Great leadership skills, communication, trust building, transparency, honesty, and integrity are all very important through your journey to become a great business for your customers and for your employees.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Panda World Map, Drinks & Panini, and Chelsea & – photo credit: Chelsea; Trend: myself IG food influencer: the_chubbee_foodee

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