Meet a Maker: Tou Her
Every culture has its own unique traditions and one of the best ways to express their tradition and culture is through clothing. Urban Spirits Apparel takes a little piece of tradition and a splash of modern to create traditionally modern wear.
As a graphic designer, I've always been fascinated with my Hmong culture and clothing. By learning more about my roots and my family background, I've always incorporated Hmong-inspired elements to my designs. Hmong clothing is full of beautiful patterns and vivid colors that really distinguishes it from everything else. With Urban Spirits Apparel, I want to combine traditional elements of Hmong with everyday modern wear. That way we are able to express our culture every day of the year.
Knowing how important traditions and clothing are to one's culture, we can all express our appreciation of our culture through clothing. Wear a little piece of culture every day.
1. What are the three qualities that got you to where you are today?
Passion, Persistence, and Patience. For me, one without the other isn't a complete picture.
2. What's the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?
As a kid, my dream job was to be a Disney animator.
3. What inspired you to start doing what you do now?
When I was young, my uncle showed me how to draw Wolverine from X-Men and that's how my passion for art got started. Then over the years, it just evolved to what I'm doing now.
One of my first products was the pocket t-shirts. I always try to stay up to date with the latest trends and noticed that a lot of people like to wear pocket t-shirts and floral designs. Then I just thought to myself, "That pocket would be nice if it was a Hmong design." So I started asking family members if they had any Hmong embroidery scraps that they didn't need anymore. They donated the ones they didn't want, and I made my first Hmong pocket t-shirt with a hand embroidery design my mom sewed.
4. Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
I get it from the beauty of my culture, my family, and friends.
5. Where is the most interesting place you've been?
It's probably cliché to say, but I would have to say Hawaii. It feels so foreign, but it's not.
6. If you were home on a rainy Sunday afternoon, what movie would you most want to see on television?
Logan. That movie is a masterpiece.
7. What's your favorite time of the day?
From about 8-9pm. When I can just unwind and relax.
8. What hobby would you get into if time and money weren't an issue?
Travel around the world to just eat all the amazing food and vlog about it.
9. What skill would you like to master?
Drawing. I always wanted to be a good illustrator, but I'm more of just a sketcher.
10. What are some small things that make your day better?
When I'm scrolling through the socials and I see people post about foods they're eating.
11. If you got a free check for $5,000, how would you use it?
Mom, we're going shopping! My mom is the backbone to my company so it's the least I can do for her. I would definitely take her shopping and eat wherever and whatever she wanted to.
12. Who inspires you to be better?
13. What's one thing that you are exceptionally good at?
I'm an excellent Papaya Salad taste tester. And my wife Hli makes the best papaya (we've gotta try her papaya now!).
14. What's one thing that you are epically bad at?
Cooking. I can't cook, but my siblings are great cooks.
15. If you could compete in an Olympic sport, what would it be?
Ping pong! When we get together at my uncle's house, we have crazy competitive ping pong tournaments.
16. What's a favorite book of yours?
The Hunger Game series.
17. What do you like most about where you currently live?
It's really close to a Target and my family lives close by.
18. If you could live in a foreign place, where would it be?
Japan. Everything there is just so cool. I took three years of Japanese in high school, and have always been fascinated with their culture. Plus I love anime so Japan is definitely where I would want to live.
19. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Just do what you love doing and don't let other's opinions influence what you choose to do.
20. What change would you like to see in the Hmong culture?
I want to see the older generation of Hmong people travel for leisure. It's a needed vacation that they deprive themselves of.
21. What is your favorite thing about being Hmong?
Somehow, no matter how small our population is, we find each other.
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