Today we’d like to introduce you to Melody Wang.
Melody, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started off as a freelance artist working in artist alley in conventions. As an artist, I’m pretty reserved. I didn’t express much in daily life, and didn’t like to call attention to myself if not necessary. While through conventions, I taught myself how to be a saleswoman. I called it extreme retailing- engage with all customers; say hi and smile at everyone, even if they don’t smile back. When they start talking-listen- and try to understand what they want. If one listens to their customers, it makes the sales go faster, because a lot of times, people just want what they want and go.
I drew a lot of fanart for the anime community. Many knew me as “Chukairi” back then. The time I spent drawing and selling at cons paid for my college tuition. However, it just didn’t fill my craving for creating. I wanted to find a way to bridge the gap between my personal artworks and products. Not just solely producing fanart, but something I can call my own. The backbone of my future brand was creating something that someone can aesthetically enjoy and also serve a purpose.
From being an artist and switching gear to a businesswoman was quite tough. It’s hard to explain it to those who haven’t crossed that line. As an artist, a lot of the thinking is irrational. Our art is our baby. So there’s a high emotional attachment to it. Like you wouldn’t sell your baby, you’d show it off. However, in business, you’d see your creation as a product, not a child. And you have to find ways to market it, promote it, and sell it. Business side is pretty cold and systematic. Either you make money or you don’t. The hardest part of it all was to let go of the title of an artist. I didn’t need to call myself an “artist” to do art. That’s when a lot of things set forward in motion for me.
I’m thankful for my artist’s journey because I took what I learned with me to my brand journey. I didn’t need an artist to start because I was my own artist. Appreciated artist alley that helped me gain the customer experience. The end goal for me back then was to sell prints. However, juggling college, traveling fees for convention, and investing in a new brand, just selling prints didn’t cut it for me. But making money also was not my end goal either. I think in the end, I came to realize, I wanted to give back to people in some way.
The art community is a wide one, from fashion, to film, to photography, to music, and drawing and painting. I met a lot of interesting people on my journey to making my brand. One of them told me that they wanted to carve out a path for the Asian community. Like leaving a legacy, so that the next generation can carry our torch. What we create might not be amazing or big on the world scale, but we’ll have made it easier for the next generation, and do what our predecessor couldn’t. That really moved me, and being a Chinese American myself I wanted to break the stereotype that artists aren’t accomplished. To give more representation to the Asian community was one of many reasons I wanted to start the brand. But now it felt like there was a bigger meaning behind it now.
When I started Mori Galaxy, it led me to be able to give more opportunity to Asian models to express themselves. To find unity in diversity within the Los Angeles community. To show cute and colorful Japanese Harajuku to more people, and to find another way to express Kanji or Chinese letters in apparels. The brand started because I wanted to give back to the community… To showcase anime and traditional Chinese art in a modern way, and build communications of both western and eastern cultures. Basically, give a feeling of nostalgia and a reminder “don’t forget where you came from”. So many ideas that I was starry-eyed!
Life will take me on many twists and turns, but I believe that there was a reason for everything. “Artist” to me now is just a title. Just because I’m an artist, doesn’t mean I have to only do what artists do. I got out of my comfort zone. Because when I got out and tried new things, I failed a lot, but it was better to fail in new places than continuing to fail at the same spot. Sometimes you just have to fail a lot in order to succeed. There’s a Chinese saying, failure is the mother of success. I took a risk in creating a world where my art can live. I hope…this legacy of positivity will continue to be passed on from one person to the next.
Has it been a smooth road?
It wasn’t a smooth road, but I don’t think anything worth doing is ever going to be easy. Even the bad parts to become the brand that Mori Galaxy is today, has been a good lesson for the future.
When I first started, a lot of the struggle was to change my own personal mentality. As an artist things were almost, if not all, emotional based for me. Becoming a business forced me to prioritize in time and finances, and also surprisingly, knowing myself better.
The concept of drawing art and selling art is different. One is to express, the other is to market. To teach myself to let go of art emotionally sounds cold-hearted, but it was necessary to learn so I can understand logically what I want for my brand and what my customer’s needs are. Just reading this, the act of it does not sound hard, but it was hard for me to differentiate where the artist mentality lies, and where I can turn to focus on business more.
When I gave my all to my brand, I found out that I had no excuses for anything else but to succeed. To take all the responsibility for my own choices and actions. It was one of the toughest pills to swallow because it always felt like a blame game before. Blaming communities for their shortcomings, blaming the economy when it was down, blaming anyone that just happened to be in my life at the time. When it’s more of my fault for not understanding what their wants and need more, and taking accountability for my own actions. Since then, whatever time I had, I would invest into research and developing target audiences.
Because I started at the bottom. With no money, no support from my family, and no one that really believed I can go from an artist to business. I turned a lot of my attention online. The online community I built when I was an artist, they whole-heartedly supported me. I just didn’t want to let the people who did believe in me down.
So I took their support, love, and pushed myself forward towards the things that I was at odds with. As advice to those who want to carry on the same path, focus on what you have, and do what you can for your brand or for yourself every day, and don’t compete with others. Compete with yourself to improve every day.
Believe that everything you want and need is already there, you just have to grab it.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Mori Galaxy – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I’m the CEO of Mori Galaxy, but that’s just a title to be honest. I still do mostly everything. From sales to packaging. Especially because of COVID-19 atm.
Most people don’t know I specialize in resourcing and research. Basically finding products that I can use to change and create with my artwork. Because I do a little bit of everything, I’m pretty well versed in both art and business.
What sets my brand apart from others is that we don’t just design for the sake of art. I don’t like the idea of slapping an artwork on a T-shirt. So I always try to find ways to put both mediums together, either changing the silhouette of the shirt’s shape or to work design around the apparel, so together they function as one piece. Mori Galaxy is a statement brand, but we are not too over the top. Trying to find ways to bridge to design and apparels as a whole.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
My favorite part about Los Angeles is our diversity and tolerance in people and culture. I’ve traveled a lot from across states in the US, to Europe, to China, and back. There’s nothing like Los Angeles out there. We are diverse in people and culture, but there is a common respect for most people to one another. We are a lot more tolerant and calm compared to the rest of the states in the US. Maybe a lot of people won’t be able to see it, because they have only been in Los Angeles, but seeing what we have here compared to the rest of the world? It’s something special.
We flourish in it, too, because art is more abundant in wealthy cities. Wealthy in the sense of a tolerant and sustainable city. The people in LA are also open to new ideas in fashion and art from different countries. They are willing to try out new things, and being new or different does not terrify them and outcast them the way a lot of other countries and states would. We embrace the different and oddities in LA. Which makes me really love our city of Angels.
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