The snarky hapa behind Snarky Hapa
That's me! My name is Tiffany and I am a half-Japanese mama of 2 born and raised on the windward side of O'ahu and now living in Seattle (by way of Philly!). I left my career and started something from nothing in hopes of bringing strength and joy to others through representation and attitude.
The Snarky Hapa Story
I lost my mom suddenly - yet slowly - to cancer in August 2015, less than a week after my son's 2nd birthday and when I was very pregnant with #2. Three months later, I gave birth to my daughter Hailee, something I never imagined doing without my mom. Shortly after Hailee's third birthday, my life was turned upside down again when she was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic disease (Mucopolysaccharidosis IV-A, also known as MPS-IV A or Morquio A), for which there is no cure. Three weeks later, she underwent her first and most dangerous surgery, neurosurgery to remove part of her skull and relieve pressure on her spinal cord. And then just one year after Hailee's diagnosis, COVID-19 descended on the world and life changed forever once again. With a high-risk, medically complex child at home in the midst of a pandemic, I left my career in education in order to prioritize myself and my family.
For years I was bounced from one intensely stressful and life-changing situation to the next, never having the time to truly stop, heal, and recover. And then in 2021, as part of my healing process, a friend suggested I get creative. I began by making pieces that brought me what I needed at the time - strength, laughter, connection with my home, and the expression of cultural pride.
Soon it became clear that other people - other women - needed those things too, and so what started out as something just for me has turned into so much more. I love creating and licensing designs that speak to my heart, fire up my soul, and connect me with people and places that are meaningful to me.
This Snarky Hapa journey has reminded me of who I am and what I am made of, and the long line of badass women I descend from. My hope is that by creating things that give me strength and joy, I might also help others find some strength and joy of their own.
Inspiration #1: My Mom
My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2011 and was given 6 to 18 months to live. She ended up kicking ass and taking names for 4.5 years and in that time inspired a lot of people with her strength. My mom was feisty and fun and full of life and spice and inappropriate jokes. She was incredibly loving and generous and seemed to know everyone around Kailua - I called her Aunty Aloha and my friends called her Moms. I get my spunk and my heart from her.
Inspiration #2: My Grandma
My bachan (we called her Cha Chan) survived internment during World War II and gave birth to two sons while being held prisoner by her own country. She was a Japanese language teacher, Ikebana master, an expert seamstress, a tea ceremony master, and had her own Japanese cooking show. I am so proud of being Japanese because that is how she taught us to be.
Inspiration #3: My Daughter
I welcomed my daughter, Hailee, a few months after my mom passed suddenly (yet slowly) from cancer. Shortly after her 3rd birthday, Hailee spent a week in the hospital and was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Morquio A. Her body doesn't produce the enzyme necessary to breakdown complex sugars so they accumulate in her bones and organs, impacting her stature, physical ability, and stamina and causing her a lot of pain. There is no cure for her disease, but we are lucky there is a treatment available to slow its progression. So every week for 5 hours, Hailee receives enzyme replacement therapy - something she will have to do weekly for the rest of her life. She might be tiny, but this girl is fierce and full of love and personality. She inspires me every day with her bravery, love, and sense of humor. I want to show her that little Asian girls like us can be just as strong and badass as anyone else!
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