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Life and Work with Anna Wang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna Wang.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Anna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in an entrepreneurial household and started my first hospitality business right after finishing my MBA at NYU. That was my biggest challenge at the time because I poured my life savings into the business and did not have the support of my parents. They could not wrap their heads around the idea that I could have had a cushy corporate job with a six-figure salary but chose to start my own business with such high risks. For the first year, the income I earned from the business was only a small fraction of what I could have earned in the corporate world. That first year was extremely tough without the support of my parents as they kept discouraging me to continue with the business. In retrospect, this is what made we who I am today. They had given me a tremendous gift, which was my drive and independence. That year was a pivotal moment for me as I gained a newfound confidence that would help me live life on my own terms.

After moving back to Los Angeles with my husband Jeremy, all I wanted to do was work on passion projects! We started our blog @socaleatery with the intention of sharing our favorite eats in Southern California, and it led to meeting our current business partners June from @stirandstyle and Dan from @dantransform. We hit it off right away and found that we had the same vision of making a dent in the restaurant industry. Shortly after, we started Shrimp Daddy and then Chichi Dango and Sip a few months later. All these concepts started as pop-ups at Smorgasburg in DTLA (785 Bay Street, LA) once a week on Sundays. We constantly reinvest earnings back into the business to position our concepts for growth and we now have 3 concepts, 5 locations, and 4 more locations in the works – all within 18 months. It takes a lot of drive and determination to be in the food industry as it’s notorious for being competitive and ever changing. You really need to have the passion for food and serving others to be able to make it in this world. We have an aggressive expansion plan for the concepts and are always looking for like-minded people to join the team.

Right now, I am just enjoying the journey as my husband and I are also trying to start a family. I am currently going through fertility treatments and sharing every juicy detail on my Instagram page. The best part about being completely open and vulnerable about sharing my personal life is that I have built an incredible community who sends me love and support daily.

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?
The road less traveled is never smooth. 🙂 There were a ton of struggles! As an entrepreneur, all I do is put out fires. When we moved back to Los Angeles, we had to take a huge risk on our NYC hospitality business and trust our team to hold down the fort. Many people told me that I was crazy to move and try to operate my business from the other side of the country. Operating a business from opposite coasts is very challenging as everything becomes tougher. For example, training and inventory management are all of the sudden tasks I cannot do. There were systems that had to be put into place to make it all work. I’m grateful for technology and advanced communication that helps keep the business going.

As for the food world, it is capital intensive and heavily dependent on foot traffic. We put a lot of time and effort into finding every location, but not every store we open will be successful. We opened and shut down an ice cream franchise that didn’t work out, but it led us to find our business partners today. What we learned early on was that there is always a silver lining in every failure and missed opportunity.

Being an entrepreneur, you will always face doubters and often times it’s family and friends that think you’re losing your mind. I went to the typical “Asian route” by getting my degrees from great universities and working at a high paying corporate job, but left all that to sell shrimp, shave ice, and drinks! People didn’t understand why I would give up all that to pursue something risky but it was honestly the best decision I’ve ever made. You must believe in yourself and your passion, and hustle hard while tuning out external noises. You are living this life for yourself and not for the opinions of others.

For women looking to become entrepreneurs, it’s crucial to look at struggles positively. All of my struggles and failures have propelled me forward in ways that were not possible if I did not experience them. Armed with this one piece of advice I hope you are comforted knowing that struggles and failures will happen and when they do, you will gain so much! So go forth in confidence!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with you as a Blogger of @Socaleatery and Co-Founder of Lotus Creatives Restaurant Group (Sip, Shrimp Daddy, and Chichi Dango) – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Traveling is something I absolutely love and bringing my travel experiences back to Los Angeles for others to enjoy is very rewarding. Our matcha brand Sip Matcha aims to make really good matcha accessible to everyone. Japan is a frequent destination of mine as my husband is half Japanese and we love the culture and the food! It was not until going to the country side of Japan to hang out with matcha farmers that I realized the amount of hard work that goes into to making truly great matcha. The farmers served me a cold brew matcha, slightly sweetened, which was extremely thirst-quenching after a hot humid day in the fields. Matcha like this is so hard to find in Los Angeles so my partners and I were super excited to bring it back to LA. This was how Sip Matcha was born.

Our matcha farm is over 100 years old and is the true specialist in this field. They do not cut corners to speed up production as high-quality matcha takes a very long time to make. Matcha is very different from other forms of tea because with matcha you are ingesting the whole tea leaf so it’s very important that it is carefully handled throughout the entire process. After harvesting the youngest leaves they are steamed, dried, and put into a granite stone mill for grinding. In one hour using traditional methods, they produce 30 grams of matcha which fits into the palms of your hands. We inspect this entire process and bring a farm-to-cup approach for our matcha with our drinks.

We also have a similar approach with Shrimp Daddy where the inspiration was from a visit to the north shores of Hawaii. This is also another frequent destination of mine since my husband’s Japanese roots are from Hawaii. If you haven’t been to the north shores of Hawaii to try their shrimp trucks, I’ll try and paint a picture for you. Imagine enjoying really fresh seafood in a beachfront community while dressed in shorts and flip-flops. While we can’t bring the bring the beach inland we can focus on finding the best shrimp and seafood for you to enjoy a fun and casual environment. Shrimp Daddy is opening soon in Chinatown LA and we are extremely excited for this.

With our food concepts, I am in charge of all things Human Resources. My day to day includes posting job listings, interviewing candidates, scheduling, holding team meetings, setting up team bonding events, giving out an employee of the month present and book, and checking in on my team. I love what I do and spend a lot of time building and developing our company culture. Just recently we took the entire team to the Hollywood Bowl for a concert! I believe our team is the most important part of our business and their well-being and fulfillment is my top priority.

What advice would you give to someone at the start of her career?
If there’s one thing I learned from our fertility journey, it is that women are stronger and more resilient than we think. We are able to go through the enormous amount of physical and emotional pain, just to become mothers. I never realized what I had in me until we started trying to conceive. I always knew I had the ambition to be a career woman, but I never knew I was able to fight so hard for something that is so uncertain and to have the strength to keep going, one obstacle after another. The courage and perseverance that I have gained on our infertility journey also push me to be a better businesswoman. A common misconception is that it is difficult for women to choose between family and career, but I firmly believe that you can do it all. I can run 5 businesses while doing fertility treatments and still have time to blog all about it online. Women are badasses, and the earlier we realize that, the earlier we can reach our true potential and fully blossom to lead the life we have always dreamed of.

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Image Credit:

June from @stirandstyle, Sunny from @sunnyjunebug, Christian from @christianyi_

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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