Discover how Vicky defines demand generation, her journey to starting a global food publication, and her inspiration for entrepreneurs hoping to realize their ideas.
What’s your story and how did it lead to you finding your passion?
To rewind back to the beginning: I grew up in a Chinese American household in Dallas. When you think about the food you ate growing up, it’s just what you ate. I had a great mix of homestyle Shanghainese food, Texan steakhouses, and fast food joints after sports practice.
I studied culinary culture in Copenhagen with a researcher from Noma’s Nordic Food Lab. That experience blew me away. I never approached food in such intense ways—both viscerally and cerebrally. We read scholarly articles on lactose fermentation, foraged in the woods, and debated chef activism before it was a hot topic. It was an exhilarating ride.
After that, I interned in technology in San Francisco and saw how the tech world approaches issues. I was exposed to design-thinking, and using design to concept better food systems. That was when I learned to think more systematically.
Before moving to New York, I worked at Health and Human Services in public health communication. Thinking about the impact big-picture issues have on individuals and families was formative. In DC, where I had studied finance and international business at Georgetown University, there was a farmers market on campus. I started to see the roots of organizing around food. I started volunteering and learning to build something from the ground up.
I've worked in New York for several years, starting for a food and drink consumer product company, where I managed brand marketing campaigns, design production, and partnerships. During that time, publications like Bon Appétit were in their prime, and I went to one of their podcast tapings. I just dove into that world. Not just media, but design and community. Incorporating different media to tell stories about something that's visceral and instinctual for everyone—food.
What was the impetus to start Currant? When did you say to yourself, “This is happening”?
In 2018, I noodled on my first piece for Currant. I don't even think it's live on the website anymore. I was so embarrassed and took it down. There's not a creative outlet studying business as an undergrad, so I subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud. When I got to New York, everyone was expected to know how to use creative tools, no matter where you work. Being in marketing, I had an opportunity to dabble in creative more.
I applied to the Adobe Creative Residency and pitched Currant. It was just a concept. I knew, even if I didn’t make it, that I would still do it. That pushed me into putting thought to paper and actually visualizing it. I didn't get the residency, but I had something better—a start.
It's hard. Especially working full time. You want to invest more time but you have blind spots where you lack expertise. Thankfully, I found out my neighbor was a creative director starting his own studio. It’s something that would only happen in New York City! He was so gracious and ended up doing the initial logo, branding, and design concepts. That really kicked it into life. That was the moment where I felt that we had something. After that, I took it and ran with it.