Aloha and welcome to Snarky Hapa, where representation, strength, pride, and attitude come together to make some magic.
I started Snarky Hapa in 2021 after/during (ohhhh pandemic) the most challenging period of my life. For the short version, you should read my About section. Get ready for the longer version!
To be honest, it all started in Feb 2011 when my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. I was desperate to give my mom a grandchild and ended up struggling with infertility and loss before having my son in 2013. He was the light we all needed in our worlds and my mom loved him SO much. His 2nd birthday in Hawaii was the last day we saw her alive and well and we hopped back on a plane to Seattle. She died less than a week later and I was shocked. I was very pregnant with my baby #2 and I never thought I would bring her into the world without my mom. I didn't know how I was going to be able to do any of it without her.
My daughter was born that winter of 2015 and most of her infancy is a blur to me. In early 2019, a week after my husband was unexpectedly let go from his job, he found himself in the ER with my daughter, who was refusing to walk because of leg pain and had spiked a fever. After a week of being in the hospital and having all the tests under the sun, Hailee was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic disease called Morquio A. Her body does not make the enzyme necessary to break down complex sugar waste in her body so it accumulates in her bones and organs, affecting every part of her body. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Morquio, and we know that one day this disease will be the reason for her death. However, we are so incredibly grateful that there is (ridiculously expensive) medication that helps to slow the progression of her disease. She began receiving enzyme replacement therapy in April 2019, a process that takes about 5 hours a pop each week, and which she will have to do for the rest of her life. It was devastating, but I had to keep on going.
Suddenly I found myself as the sole breadwinner and health insurance carrier for our family, balancing my crazy stressful job with all the chaos around me. There was dangerous neurosurgery, MRIs, an aspergillus breakout, more MRIs, spinal taps, and more surgeries. AND THEN. Just a year after her diagnosis, a pandemic hit the world. A two week quarantine turned into an indefinite one, as my daughter is high-risk for severe respiratory infection. It was impossible to juggle working full-time and watching a 4 and 6 year-old. I had been running on fumes before the pandemic hit and now life seemed completely unsustainable.
In January of 2021, I made the difficult choice to step back from my long career in education - the only career I have known. I was neck deep in homeschooling one kid and managing remote school for the other, taking care of the household, and losing myself. A friend suggested I channel my creativity a bit and before I knew it, I was making things in a basement bedroom which has since transformed into my home studio. I immediately gravitated towards designs that reminded me of how strong I was, that celebrated my culture and my identity, and that connected me with home. Eventually I started creating my own designs that unleashed my inner snark and personal sense of humor. I was doing all of this for myself and my own healing, then realized that other people like me - women like me - would probably also benefit from what I was making.
I decided I wanted to open up a shop and in May 2021, Snarky Hapa was born. I started out on etsy and am so excited to finally have my own website up and running. I had no idea how important Snarky Hapa would become for me but I realize that what I am doing is important and it matters. I have had to deal with my share of nonsense as a small Asian woman and my daughter has far bigger challenges. I want her to grow up knowing that she is strong and powerful all on her own.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you.