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Alumna Katie Chung expands Hua Studios to local craft fairs

After numerous years of running her Etsy business, Hua Studios, Class of 2023 alumna Katie Chung decided to bring her products, including keychains, small photo frames and stickers, to the booths of craft fairs like the San José Summer Fair at Westgate Mall on Aug. 12 and 13. Here, Chung and more than 125 vendors came together to display and sell their creations.             

Chung’s interest in art stems from her time in Lynbrook Virtuosity, a graphic design club that creates anything from stickers to printed tote bags. Her passion grew as she took on roles in other groups like the online bullet journaling community, which inspired her to start her own business.

“Bullet journaling is closely related to the sticker-making small business community, since a lot of the owners of journaling Instagram pages also have small businesses,” Chung said. “I was inspired by those people.”

Following her success from selling stickers on Etsy, Chung invested her earnings in her first color printer and Cricut smart cutting machine, which elevated the efficiency and quality of her stickers. From there, she expanded to more products such as photo frames and crochet flowers. Under the guidance of friends who were more experienced in running craft fairs booths, she was able to bring her products to in-person markets in May. 

“I think it’s just a really good experience to do it with friends, since doing it by yourself feels a bit lonely,” Chung said. “With friends it feels like it’s a group effort.”

At fairs, Chung has shared a booth with Class of 2023 alumna Victoria Dai, who also sells a variety of handmade crafts including stickers, keychains and hair clips. Dai has always had an interest in vending at craft fairs, but what really pushed her and Chung to attempt vending for themselves was attending a craft fair, where the organizers encouraged more artists to get involved. Chung added that having a friend made the vending experience more enjoyable since they could support each other.

“Katie is one of my closest friends and this was a huge thing we bonded over, ” Dai said. “I think my favorite moment was having Indomie noodles while sitting behind our booth on a super hot day while customers browsed our crafts.”

When Chung first started her journey,  her understanding of what skills were required to run a business was limited to behind-the-scenes style videos she saw online and didn’t anticipate the greater complexity of the process. For instance, booth fees at fairs were often costly, ranging from $50 to $300.  To overcome this obstacle,  Chung would split the costs with other vendor friends by sharing the booths. Another unanticipated aspect was the insensitive customers.

“Since my art is very personal to me, it kind of hurts.” Chung said. “But I don’t take it to heart; I get that people just want to get things for their family.”

Despite the challenges, Chung still finds vending and running her small business to be a gratifying experience and feels lucky that she gets to share her art with new people. 

 “My favorite moments are when little kids come up to my booth and say, ‘Oh, this is so cute,’” Chung said. “Those are the moments that make me feel really happy and fulfilled.”

Chung plans to continue her online business and vending at fairs or conventions, hoping to one day sell her work at Anime Expo in Los Angeles, one of the largest conventions for celebrating anime and Japanese culture.

“Anime Expo is a big dream but that’s probably many years in the future since it’s so competitive to get a booth,” Chung said. “But for now I just want to keep going with smaller opportunities.”

 

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Alexandra Wu, Staffer
(she/her) Alexandra is a sophomore and a first-year staffer in the Epic. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her guinea pigs and going out with friends and family.
Chelsea Lee, Design Editor
(she/her) Chelsea Lee is a senior and third-year staffer. She is a Design Editor and previous News Editor for the Epic. Within journalism, she is most passionate about photojournalism and broadcasting. Outside of the newsroom, she enjoys cuddling her maltese dog, Coco, and exploring a variety of creative outlets.
Erin Fitzpatrick, Staffer
(she/her) Erin is a junior and first year staffer for the Epic. In her free time she’s often watching rom-coms and cooking with her mom. She also enjoys playing volleyball, hiking, and hanging out with friends
Rohan Kakhandiki, Staffer
(he/him) Rohan is a sophomore as well as a first-year staffer at the Epic. He enjoys to play guitar and hang out with his friends in his free time.
Apurva Krishnamurthy, News Editor
(she/her) Apurva is a senior and the news editor for the Epic. Aside from journalism, she enjoys discovering new music, watching horror and thriller movies, and reading.
Audrey Sun, Staffer
(she/her) Audrey Sun is a senior and a returning staffer for the Epic. Outside of school, she enjoys playing volleyball, trying out new recipes, and looking for new workouts on YouTube.

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