Photographer. Sustainable Fashion Designer. Creative Entrepreneur.
I am the founder Otto Finn. At Otto Finn we make sustainable clothing and accessories that allow our customers to manifest who they are distinctly and comfortably. Our featured products are kimono inspired jackets that are primarily made from vintage kanthas, wool blankets and some American quilts.
I am also a photographer. I worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC for nearly a decade photographing art. In that role, I worked intimately with the Asian Art collection, specifically the Japanese wood block prints and Indian paintings which inspire and inform the textile work I currently do.
I’m an active community member and co-organize a series of outdoor pop ups with Radiant Hall (a non profit focused on offering affordable artist studios) for creative businesses in Pittsburgh, where I live. This stemmed from many of us losing our regular revenue streams during the pandemic and wanting to create a safe environment for connecting with our audiences. We started from a 3 vendor pop up in one location to over 70 vendors in 4 locations in less than 6 months. I’m really proud of the support we’ve been able to offer to one another during this trying time.
I’m a mom to two young children and that is probably the most challenging work I do especially as both of them have been home 100% of the time since schools shut down last year.
How does being Taiwanese/Taiwanese American and/or community ally play a role in your life?
My bi-cultural background has always informed my decision making and life views. In the year plus since the pandemic began and the murder of Breonna Taylor, I have chosen to engage with my community and audience in a way that is authentic to me. Growing up in NYC, Pittsburgh is a small city in comparison and I make sure that I show up when decisions are made that affect my neighborhood, my children, and my creative community. My voice represents my lived experiences and it’s important to share them.
If you could teach future generations 1 thing about being Taiwanese/Taiwanese American or Taiwan, what would it be?
To be proud of their heritage, learn Mandarin, and to stay connected to the island. I worry about this for my kids as we’re not able to go back on a yearly basis. I want them to grow up feeling that they also belong there and have a cultural connection to our beloved country.
What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?
More representation in all sectors. If our voices are in the room, then we will be heard and begin to matter.
Favorite memory of Taiwan/Taiwanese America?
I have so many wonderful memories as I spent my summers growing up visiting my dad and my relatives in Taiwan. One visual I have in mind is taking the drive to Shihmen Dam 石門水庫 with my dad and eating beef noodles at a road side stand on the way.
Favorite Taiwanese food?
Fried fish cake 甜不辣 with basil and a sprinkling of hot pepper powder.