AAPI Heritage Month - Q&A with Karen Rosalie
AAPI Heritage Month celebrates Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that have contributed to America's rich history and success. We're so thrilled to introduce Karen Rosalie
, a woman with ambition and an inspiration to many.
Hi Karen! Can you first tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Karen Rosalie. I’m a second generation Asian American creative working in Los Angeles CA. I founded Rosalie Agency in 2016– a creative content agency where my team and I work with Sephora brands to create photos and videos for campaigns. In 2021 I also cofounded with my husband 3 premium photo studios in Los Angeles called Iro House, Malta House and Xinu House. You can find us on Instagram and Peerspace!
How did growing up as an Asian American/Pacific Islander affect your personal and professional life?
I grew up in a super traditional household where creative careers were highly discouraged just because it was uncharted territory for my immigrant parents. Their exposure to “high success” careers fell into sectors like medicine or law or banking. Fortunately for me, this just further pushed my drive to succeed in photography. Being able to tell my parents I had a billboard and my photos were printed in Sephora was a huge accomplishment and milestone for me– it only took 10 years for me to prove that I could do it.
How did you come to start your business, and what were the main challenges?
Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. It takes a certain amount of tenacity and the ability to pick yourself up despite getting knocked down over and over again. There are many challenges in starting your own business that hits you all at the same time: from filing the business paperwork, setting up the business accounts, selling your services, hiring, and getting that repeat customer to keep your business alive. Starting Rosalie Agency was particularly challenging because it was my first time starting a business so I had no idea what I was doing in those first two years. Fast forward to almost 6 years into the business I would have to say that the biggest challenge out of everything is just having the grit to stay in it, even when times get tough, or business is slow during certain months. Being an entrepreneur is all about being able to ride the wave during the highs and lows.
If you could give your younger self advice regarding growing up AAPI, what would it be?
I felt very isolated growing up AAPI in America. My parents (through no fault of their own as they too were strangers in this country) were not able to help me navigate through what it meant to be Asian and American. I struggled with the two cultures, the American culture I was experiencing through school, friends and media, and the traditional Chinese culture I was experiencing at home, and trying to find who I was and where I fit within that narrative. Now that I’m older, I have more grace for my parents who were also trying to figure out who they were in this new country. Knowing now that we are a Chinese diaspora helps me frame this narrative in a much easier way for me to understand.
Looking back, I would tell my younger self to have more patience. We can only know what we know, and while we’re in the process of learning, the unknown is what’s beautiful about it. In the unknown I discovered myself. I now know that my parents immigrated here so that I could be whoever and whatever I want to be, and I am so thankful.
How do you connect with your heritage and culture today?
I love being Asian and no one really knows this about me but I’m really into Chinese history. I love the richness of our culture and all the delicious food. Prior to COVID I had traveled to Shanghai and it was a great sense of “returning to my people” where everyone looked like me and spoke like me. I hope that I can travel to Asia again soon – there’s so much to be discovered.