Our Journey

Helly and Suzie with our mom
Growing up in a large, intergenerational refugee family, the seed for Kindred Co. was planted early in our childhood. One of our most vivid memories is of our grandmother, sitting on a low, woven stool, next to the brightest window in our crowded home, sewing away. She made intricate hand sewn paj ntaub (Hmong cross stitch, applique, and embroidery art). She merged generations-old crafting skills that were passed onto her from her elders, with her new American culture, creating pencil holders, bookmarks, Christmas ornaments as well as traditional clothing, and wall art. As kids, we proudly gifted her art to our friends and teachers, sharing a little bit of our culture and our identities with those we loved. 
Grandma with her knitting supplies
(Yes, she learned how to knit too!)

As adults, we understand how important this sentiment of giving a piece of ourselves is to so many people. As we searched for ways to appreciate loved ones from afar (two of us lived thousands of miles away from our families for more than a decade), we struggled to find time and resources to thoughtfully curate gifts that had meaning beyond pretty items in boxes. Just as important as the products we were gifting, was who was making them. We saw how our grandmother's art not only provided her a small income, but it provided a creative outlet, a connection to her Hmong and American cultures, and gave her a sense of independence. Through her craft, she was her own boss. She got to create how she wanted, and she got to share it with others. 

Kindred Co. has been years in the making, between our demanding day jobs, children, family, and just life in general our heart hustle was something we’d work on when we could find the time. Like many first time entrepreneurs, we hesitated a lot. Will people like what we put out there? How do we find the start up money? Will makers welcome our approach? How do we ensure we aren't appropriating culture (btw, we love this description here on what is cultural appropriation from one of the first brands we featured, DIOP)? We've barely started, and the journey has already been long, but this heart-hustle has been keeping us alive with joy. We've connected with such encouraging makers who started out in the same, scrappy ways we are. We get to see how, very much like our grandmother, so many creators put so much love and energy into their products and with it, the dream of independence, community impact, and love for what they do.  

We hope that Kindred Co. brings as much heart to your gifting experience as it does for us to curate from Black, Indigenous, and people of color across the country! Happy giving!


Helly, Gao, and Suzie

(Our mom is one of our biggest helpers!)