Boba Guys and Gals,
It’s Day 15, which means we are officially half way through our Kickstarter Campaign!
The overwhelming support to our Kickstarter campaign really touched our hearts. When we saw that we hit 33% of our goal within three days, Bin and I did a little “Happy” dance. If we reach our goal, we just might have to bust out a whole special number!? =)
Today, we wanted to answer one FAQ: why did we make our Kickstarter about #FightthePowder and #DotheRightThing?
For those who don’t know, it is a reference to an awesome movie called Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee. It’s a provocative movie that everyone should see as its themes are still relevant 25 years later. We had to re-watch it a couple times before we decided to integrate it across our campaign. We knew that reintroducing the phrase “Fight the Powder” in today’s vernacular could potential ignite unnecessary controversy across the internetz. That’s why we want to explain ourselves now.
Do the Right Thing spoke to Bin and I because it shares the same passion for social change. It’s a funny, yet authentic portrayal of race relations in the 1980s. I was only eight years old when the movie came out, but I remember watching it on VHS at a neighbor’s house. While some of the dialogue was way over my head, I remember it affected me deeply— it was one of the first times I saw Asians in mainstream cinema. The Asian immigrant store owners in the movie reminded me of my family’s situation—we ran one of the only Chinese restaurants in our little township of Woodbridge, New Jersey.
I am the first to admit that I am very fortunate when it comes to racial discrimination. I can only recall a few select instances in my childhood where I was on the receiving end of explicit racial prejudice. Most of the time, I heard silly one-off comments like “Hey Jackie Chan!” or “What are you going to do, Bruce Lee?” Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee were/are still heroes to young Asian Americans, so if that’s what people wanted to call me, so be it. There are a lot worse things to be called than a Drunken Master tyke.
Two of my best friends from childhood were Italian and Hungarian. It is through them that I experienced true racial and ethnic discrimination. They endured the full gamut of racial epithets and I was often present to empathize with them. Even as a kid, I found it unfair to insult a person based on the color of one’s hair, family possessions, or even what they brought in for lunch—these are things out of my friends’ control. Although it wasn’t exactly a conscious decision, I developed an acute awareness of social and economic division.
Fast forward twenty years later, I meet Bin and find out we share a similar point of view. This time it’s flipped. In a city where 1/3 of the population is Asian American, we can easily fall prey to reverse discrimination. We hear tinges of it when people comment about the diversity of our staff (i.e. 70% of our staff are not of Asian descent). We have the best, most loyal employees in the business—it is disappointing when people think they cannot make a good drink simply because of the way they look. As we wrote two years ago, Boba Guys is our way of sharing our culture with the world. It’s not about being Asian American, Taiwanese, or Chinese. It’s about bridging cultures.
One of the biggest hurdles in bridging culture is helping people understand the boba scene. In our opinion, the boba and tea industry is a bit clandestine and insular. We felt this when we started Boba Guys and met with potential suppliers. One supplier laughed at our face when we said that the future of boba lies with transparency and quality ingredients. He (the CEO) proceeded to say we were being naïve and foolish. We still think about the conversation to this day. The CEO happens to run one of the biggest industry conglomerates today.
The massive menus and endless combinations of flavors also make the whole experience very intimidating for people who are new to boba. It’s hard to know who to trust and what to drink, especially if everything looks like a nondescript, colorful powder. That’s why we care so much about transparency. If people can see how we make things or the ingredients we use, it makes the experience more palatable.
We’re not here to stick it to the industry, but we are very intentional about our campaign. In order to change perceptions, we have to disrupt things a bit. We use the traditional Taiwanese brown sugar syrup method, but we also use Straus organic milk. We sell world-famous Sunny Hills Pineapple Cakes from Taiwan, but we also make Hong Kong toast with a buttercream topping instead of the typical can of condensed milk. The disruption may be uncomfortable for some, but better for the whole. By bridging cultures, you get crazy new creations like horchata boba or milk tea with chia seeds. And more importantly, you start breaking down barriers and just maybe, we all start to love each other a little more.
So we hope that explains why we chose to use the hashtags. #FightThePowder is our call to challenge the status quo and #DotheRightThing. Thank you for joining us in this mission!