April 2010 Ms. CEO of the Month: Mimi Tin
Artsy entrepreneur finds her inner peace in the snow
International human rights abuses would be her topic of conversation with the President
During our recent chat with April 2010 Ms. CEO of the Month, Mimi Tin, we learned that we picked the perfect time to feature her. Our theme this month is “Cool and Carefree” which fits Mimi well. Her business, Sushi Style, is all about cool creativity and carefree whimsy. She makes ottomans that look like sushi. And for children she has created Sushiami, a fun collection that includes the most adorable dolls, jewelry and sushi-style poufs.
Mimi shared with us that Spring just so happens to be her favorite season. What a coincidence! We love these lofty and simple surprises—and we are delighted by all that we learned about Mimi’s amazing life experiences so far. What a woman she is—and a business woman to boot. Here’s what she shared with Ms. CEO correspondent, Felicia Joy:
Who named you and what does your name mean? My parents named me Khaymar Than, which means “cool girl million.” Mimi is a nickname and means “little daughter” in Burmese.
Did you have a business as a child or an interest in sales and leadership (for instance, Girl Scouts)? My cousin and I tried to have a lemonade stand in New York City once but a homeless man came by and ate all our cookies. We cried and ran back upstairs.
What was your favorite subject in school? Art.
What is your favorite color? My favorite color of the moment is aubergine. (Ms. CEO: We scratched our heads too. It’s a “dark purplish color” according to the dictionary.)
What is your favorite food? Burmese and Thai—equally.
You mentioned that snowboarding is your favorite past time; how in the world did you get into that? Through the years, I have challenged myself to face my fears head-on until I learned to be fearless. I had always been afraid to speak in public, so I started teaching design classes. I had been afraid of water, so I learned how to surf when I lived in Sydney, Australia. I was afraid of heights, so I learned to snowboard. I loved it so much, it eventually became part of my lifestyle. I feel a sense of absolute freedom when I am gliding through the snow; it clears my head and keeps me grounded. I wish I could do it year round.
Winter, spring, summer or fall? Spring! I love everything about the Springtime—the color of the new leaves, flowers blooming everywhere, and the sense that everything is new and beautiful again.
Are you intentional when it comes to business or are you laid back, allowing things to come to you as they may? I am intentional, but throughout the process of creating and operating Sushi Style, I have learned to be more laid back about situations that are beyond my control.
If people could describe you in only one word, what do you think ( or hope) that word would be? Gracious and inspiring—sorry, that’s two!
What’s the most unusual place you have ever traveled? I am passionate about traveling so I have had the opportunity to see some interesting places around the world. I guess one of the most unusual experiences I have had happened during a mission trip to a small village in Honduras. When we arrived, there wasn’t enough room for everyone to stay in the huts so a few of us volunteered to sleep on a concrete slab in the middle of the village. The area around us was clear when we went to sleep but when I opened my eyes in the morning I was face-to-face with a curious pig. I looked around and realized we were surrounded by a field full of other large pigs, goats and chickens; and I could see the silhouette of three men in sombreros sitting on a fence somewhere in the distance. It was crazy.
Is there a cause that you are super passionate about?
Yes, I have been working with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to help Burmese refugees in Atlanta. My family had to start over when we arrived in the United States so I am very passionate about helping the Burmese refugees get settled here. I’d like to visit the refugee camps along the Burma-Thai border to see first-hand what can be done. I think it would be nice to deliver some of my Sushiami dolls to the children.
What’s your favorite television show? Seinfeld was my favorite show. I could watch the episodes over and over again. I don’t have a chance to watch a lot of TV these days but I try to catch episodes of Project Runway whenever I can.
What would people be surprised to know about you? (Laughs.) Not too many people know that I was born in a remote jungle village in the middle of Burma. Our “house” was surrounded by exotic creatures that would visit us occassionally. My dad killed a cobra with a baseball bat and ran over a python with his jeep. He and my uncle used to go tiger hunting. For some reason, people often think that I’m a city girl who is afraid of bugs and getting dirty. I think they’d be surprised to know it’s quite the opposite.
Are you married? Are you a mom? No, marriage has never really been a priority for me. I feel that if it is meant to happen it will happen one day and if it doesn’t, that’s fine too.
Who, or what, makes you laugh out loud? My dad. He says the funniest things without meaning to and it makes us laugh hysterically. I love laughing with my friends as well. Sometimes we laugh until our cheeks hurt.
If you could have a meeting with President Obama what would you talk to him about? I would ask what we can do to help countries like Burma that have been oppressed by a military junta for years. What can the United States do to help free political prisoners like the elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi? What can we do to raise national and global awareness about human rights abuse that takes place in these countries?