“We may have an idea of what being Asian looks like, but we can change and curate what our lives are. We can take what we grew up with in the Western culture and our heritage from that of our parents and take the best of both worlds. I think the more options we have, the more we can nitpick and curate our lives.
Hello Prosper is an introduction to Asian women pioneers and thinking about how we can grow from our experiences."
- Kelly Lan, Founder of Hello Prosper
What is Hello Prosper?
Hello Prosper is an arts education brand that helps kids, teens, and young adults love their Asian culture and female identity. We build hands-on interactive worksheets for ages 5-24 and we’ve organized events around exploring identity and heritage. My ultimate vision is to have a children’s book that tells the stories of Asian female pioneers.
What inspired you to start Hello Prosper?
I saw this book called Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison that tells stories about women that are usually unheard of or not taught in school and it resonated with me like, “Wow, I can do this for Asian women”.
"This is something I wanted to see in the world"
Why does representation matter, especially for Asian Americans?
If you don’t see it, you can’t believe it. This is why I think it’s so important to do really beautiful storytelling that captures the imagination.
Sometimes we feel alone, especially when you’re younger and you want to fit in. You can get stuck in between the world views of your parents and your friends. We need to lean into our identity and know that there are Asian American women that have done incredible things.
"There are Asian American women that have done incredible things"
Many Asian women have a transnational identity. We’re in the process of defining who we are and I see an opportunity there to build this brand off of that need and in 10-15 years we will have this beautiful repository of resources to tap back into.
Why does storytelling matter?
With storytelling, it’s everything. Especially for children of immigrants and refugees, stories of their roots are lost and that’s sad because that’s where you could connect with the stories and the strength of your people.
"All these stories helped me affirm that I can do it and we need to teach that at a younger age"
We’re writing creative non-fiction so we get to see that these Asian women existed. They defied stereotypes about women and they succeeded. Like Thelma Buchholdt, the first Filipino woman to advocate for indigenous rights in Alaska, and Patsy Mink, who allowed funding for women in sports. All these stories helped me affirm that I can do it and we need to teach that at a younger age.
Asian Americans face a perpetual foreigner stereotype based on history and the laws that were created. By looking back in history, we can see that we’re all in a continuum. It all matters. We need to let people know this is where we started, this is where we’re at, and this is where we want to be. And this is what happens with storytelling.
What are your hopes for the future generation of Asian Americans?
I’ve been thinking about the need for more diverse Asian stories in media and art. I’m obsessed with Netflix’s Indian Matchmaker right now. When I see the characters, I feel connected because they’re also in this hyphenated identity world.
We need to amplify and have people understand that our gender and ethnicity is not a crutch or handicap - it’s something we need to speak openly about. Sometimes we shy away from talking about our culture, like our holidays and our foods, because it might seem weird to others. But who cares? It’s actually really great. I hope Asian American women are unbashful and unapologetic about sharing and educating others about their culture.
LOVE LOVE LOVE! Such an inspirational story to read!!!
What an honor! Us Two Tea did an amazing job with the interview and captured my story beautifully. I felt comfortable with the process and can’t wait to share with my network and community.
To the stars,