Location: Seattle, WA
Service: Stationery Cards Designed By, For, and About Underrepresented Voices
I connected with Sokha through his Features blog post, thanks to our network of mutual friends! I was intrigued to learn that Sokha runs a stationery/greeting card business to provide a space for marginalized communities, including communities of color. Support his business, as his team puts tremendous thought and effort into the design and symbolism behind each of their stationery cards.
What is your name and role at Hourglass Industries?
My name is Sokha Danh. I consider myself as a co-founder. My friends and family have been so supportive of me with getting this stationery business off the ground, that they are truly the other co-founders.
What made you become interested in having a stationary/greeting card business? How did your team come together? Where did the idea come about?
I wasn't finding greeting cards that reflected the ideas that I wanted to get across and that I know are important to our culture and communities of color. The stationary world as a whole is very white - the aesthetics aren't found in other cultures and communities.
At Hourglass Industries, we are trying to including our narrative in this whole stationary world and culture. One of our most popular cards, "Did you eat yet?," speaks to our Asian American communities. We don't say, "I love you" to each other - instead, we ask, "Did you eat yet?" This phrase to us means so much more than an "I love you."
We're probably the first stationery card company ever in the world that actually used this phrase in a greeting card. When we were designing it, I wanted to aesthetically represent the card in a way that pays homage to our cultures. I wanted to show that "Did you eat yet?" can hold as high of a meaning as the words, "I love you."
What is your favorite part of owning your business so far? What are the challenges?
My favorite part is that you are in control of making the decisions. People of Color (PoC) often go into careers where they don't get to make decisions, ultimately. I created Hourglass Industries as an opportunity for myself and others on my team.
The biggest challenge right now is all of the uncertainty because of COVID-19. Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) owned businesses and communities were already struggling before the pandemic. I'm in the position where I'm privileged to be able to do this as a side hustle but many BIPOC businesses are running full-time. Their business is their livelihood. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to survive this economic downturn and public health crisis.
Tell us about your products or services!
We're about creating greeting cards for us. It’s not necessarily about making money. Of course, any business wants to be profitable and sustainable, but our goal is to make a positive social impact on the world by creating stationery for communities of color and marginalized voices. We want to normalize the idea of expressing your emotions in healthy ways and showing vulnerability in our communities. That is what's most important. This is our greater purpose.
One other thing, businesses and entire industries usually aren’t created with us in mind. If companies are creating a mostly white dominant space with their products and services, then we are by design, already excluded from the conversation. We end up actually adapting ourselves to their products and services. Hourglass Industries is working to change that.
What else would you like for people to know about you and/or your business?
There's an amazing, resilient ecosystem of businesses owned by People of Color: I would like to encourage folks to support businesses that are trying to create their own lanes and really going after big things for the culture - it doesn't have to be me that you support but other entrepreneurs of color in the culinary scene, arts, and other areas. Try to learn more about them and give them good energy; even if it's not a purchase, you can support by sending them a message of affirmation, or by liking and sharing their social media.
Throughout the interview, Sokha was incredibly humble with his achievements and goals. It is incredible to see what he is doing for our communities and for his team of diverse professionals! Sokha also shared that this is one of the first times where he has been interviewed about his business, so we, 2 Khmerican Sisters, are honored to be showcasing his work and mission.
If you are interested to learn more about the meaning behind the phrase, "Did you eat yet?," Sokha's team made a video podcast his team made last summer all about it. Thank you for your time!