Editor’s note: As DailyCandy’s Chief Correspondent, SuChin helps DailyCandy editors scour the country for the next big thing. She is the co-founder of the Hester Street Fair in New York City and an MTV News Correspondent.
My parents, like so many other immigrant families, moved to this country to create a better future for their children. My earliest memories of moving to America are intertwined with watching my parents first go to work in restaurants and then running their own. While a lot of kids have memories of summer camp, I remember spending my summers with my brother, working the cash registers, filling refrigerators with canned soda and watching my parents slowly build a life here for our family.
So when people ask me how I identify myself, more than my race or my culture, I identify myself as the daughter of immigrant entrepreneurs. This realization has only come to me recently though. But as I look back on my career choices, I realize how much of my life has been shaped by this “boot-strapping”, “make it any way you can” mentality. I’ve always been creative about how to make a living, always strived to carve out a niche for myself that I could “own ,” whether I was reporting on camera or running my own business.
In 2010, my brother, myself and two friends set up the Hester Street Fair--a small, well-curated outdoor food and goods market in the Lower East Side, a neighborhood steeped in a rich history of immigrant entrepreneurship. We started out with a simple idea to give some of our creative friends in New York a place to sell their stuff. It has quickly grown in to a community of passionate, driven entrepreneurs that are all chasing the ultimate dream: to be successful at your passion in life. Given my life history, it is no surprise then, that out of all the businesses that I could have started, I chose one that ultimately is about helping others start their own small businesses. Hester is a unique market, started in a very specific economic climate. It is not a traditional flea market but more an outdoor launching pad for small businesses that cannot afford to open brick-and-mortar shops just yet.
A large majority of our vendors are “sidepreneurs” who are full time lawyers and copy editors by day and pastry chefs and jewelry designers by night. It is the DIY (do-it-yourself) economy; it is the social media economy; it is the economy that doesn’t necessarily care about resume building or traditional paths of employment. And yes, it is the economy where having a “real” job is not necessarily safer than becoming an entrepreneur. Watching a new vendor sell his or her first product at Hester and then go on to grow and ultimately open up shop in New York City--being a part of that in some way has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever experienced.
Coming on to DailyCandy.com as Chief Correspondent is more than just an extension of my TV career. Being able to report on the undiscovered gems, the best and new coming around the corner, feels very much like what I do for Hester. Tapping into the best and brightest new businesses and giving them a larger platform to succeed, whether it’s a vendor booth or a fantastic story for the site, is all part of the same story I’m passionate about. It should come as no surprise that the vast majority of Hester vendors and DailyCandy stories are driven by women.
Working outside of traditional paths, balancing personal and professional lives and the freedom to call your own shots is especially appealing to a lot of women entrepreneurs I meet. And now, for me, as a new mom, the freedom of being an entrepreneur has never been more alluring. The “Start Small Go Big” contest at DailyCandy.com is in its third year and every year it gets bigger. More applicants, better products, businesswomen who are increasingly technology-savvy join this contest, not because it has some big pot of cash at the end of it, but to be a part of a community of women entrepreneurs who eat, sleep and breathe their businesses and want to see their ideas grow, flourish and succeed. But it’s not only an invitation for great ideas, it’s also an invitation for readers, fans and consumers to invest in the ultimate American dream.