Oh JoyOh Joy

it's giving tuesday...

Oh Joy Flowers

This year has been very difficult financially for many of our neighbors, community, friends—and maybe even our own families. We've had a year we never imagined, but we've also seen the incredible generosity and kindness of communities and neighbors coming together and helping to meet each others' most basic needs. Donating to non-profits can seem hard when our own finances may not be their best this year, but I have been trying to find creative ways to give and support.

For example, I had an IG closet sale recently where all profits went to The Loveland Foundation...we raised $1500 in one weekend! And, for this upcoming holiday, instead of gifting our colleagues and clients with physical gifts (the way we normally do), instead we're going to use those funds towards giving to one of the below organizations instead. We know that everyone is okay with foregoing getting a gift from us for a great cause instead.

So this Giving Tuesday, if you're in a position to give or donate in any capacity, I wanted to highlight some great organizations that could use your help to keep meeting the needs of our communities in need...

1) Baby2Baby - provides children living in poverty, ages 0-12 years, with diapers, clothing and all the basic necessities that every child deserves.

2) Feeding America - The Feeding America network is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, working to connect people with food and end hunger. Donors, staff, and volunteers all play an important role in our efforts to end hunger in the United States.

3) No Kid Hungry - No Kid Hungry is working to end child hunger in America today by ensuring that all children get the healthy food they need every day to thrive.

4) Covenant House - Covenant House has helped transform and save the lives of more than a million homeless, runaway and trafficked young people. They offer housing and support services to young people in need – currently reaching 74,000 youth every year.

5) Boys and Girls Club - It takes an army of people, a safe environment, high-quality programs and unique experiences to level the playing field for all kids. Boys & Girls Clubs helps to build great futures for America's young people.

what's in a name?

Oh Joy! What's in a Name?

I was born Nantaka Joy Deangdeelert. It’s pretty much the most Thai name you could have...soooo many letters! Nantaka means “Happy Lady”, Joy is actually a very common Thai nickname (Thai people are often given shorter nicknames since our first names tend to be long), and Deangdeelert means  “Red, good, and luck.” It’s a name with so much meaning yet it was a name that I struggled with my whole childhood.

I would DREAD the first day of school every year. That moment when the teacher would call my name for the first time...where they would have no idea how to say it. It would come out like “Man-taka Dingleberry” or “Nanataka Dingledirt” or so many other crazy versions that I dreaded hearing because I ultimately knew I would correct them and mostly likely, they still wouldn’t get it right. So every year, on the first day of school (soon after they would see my name for the first time), I resigned to telling everyone to just call me “Joy”. It was my middle name and so it felt totally fine—almost like giving permission to call me by my nickname.

In hindsight, I wish I had stayed true to my real first name and continued to correct anyone who said my name wrong. But in those moments where I wanted to be American SO badly, I needed the ease and the acceptance to be called a name that didn’t cause disruption or confusion. I had ONE teacher in all of my 21 years of schooling (through college) who refused to "just call me Joy" and made it a point to call me by the name I was given. And, he always made sure to say it correctly. I didn't' realize it then—but looking back on that time—it really meant so much. He made an effort that most people don't. I realize now how often people never tried to pronounce my family's name correctly—when they met us in-person as strangers, when telemarketers called our house, or when reading our name out loud somewhere. They were so quick to butcher it and not ask how to pronounce it.

When I got married, my maiden name changed to my middle name and Cho became my last name. I changed Joy to my official first name then since I had already used it my whole life and now I was Joy Deangdeelert Cho. Now, having a MUCH shorter name of Joy Cho, you would think it would be a no-brainer to say. But I can't tell you how many times Cho changes to Chow, Choi, Choy or Chung.

As our world expands everyday, I try to remember that everyone's name is a part of who they are, whether it's their given name or the name that a person has chosen later in life. If you've ever been in a situation where you are unsure how to say someone's name, it is okay (and even respectful) to ask how to pronounce a name. Or, you can even ask what name they prefer to go by. And then follow through with effort just the same as you would like for your own name!

My Dad, to this day, always calls me Nantaka :)

P.S. Great videos on this topic by Uzo Aduba and @navthepoet

positive things you can do this weekend...

Basket of Flowers

Happy Friday! The world seems upside down right now, and sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel during this truly atypical year. But there are also good things in this world, and things we can do for ourselves, our families, and our communities to bring light, change, and happiness! So I'm encouraging you this weekend to do one of these three things for yourself and for your community. And, you get extra credit and fifty gold stars if you do all three! :)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Early detection is so important. I have had friends and family member with breast cancer and have seen how early detection saves lives. So call your doctor, get your yearly appointment scheduled, check yourself monthly, if you're old enough (like me ;), get a mammogram.  Do it for yourself and your family.  I can't say it better than Anada Lewis did in this IGTV. Check it out and then take care of yourself!

I have shared a lot about COVID-19 safety on Instagram, but one of the things I have learned in this pandemic, is how much injustice we allowed or ignored in our society before. One of those areas is the flu. Between 8,000-20,000 people die each year from the flu. While we should all be getting our flu shots every year, this year it's more important than ever to protect against the flu while Covid-19 is still very present. There are those around us that need us to get flu shot because they have weakened immune systems or are susceptible to the flu, but getting the shot (even if you're healthy) helps to prevent you from spreading it to someone who may not be as healthy. A week or two of misery for you might be a hospital stay or death for someone else. So go get your flu shot, and encourage everyone around you to get theirs as well. Let's emerge from this pandemic with more empathy for others and a willingness and eagerness to make small choices that help ourselves and everyone around us. And on that same note, please wear a mask when in close proximity to others in public. It's still our number one protector for the spread of COVID-19.

TAKE A WALK (and pick up trash!)
My only escape from the house right now includes outdoor walks and parks, and I know it's the same for a lot of you. And, have you noticed the amount of plastic gloves or disposable masks left as litter? Since you already have your mask and gloves or hand sanitizer with you, challenge yourself and your family to each pick up ten pieces of trash. Sanitize after you pick up and, of course, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when you get home. Help clean up your community while you're getting a breath of fresh air. It's win-win.

Happy weekend all!

(Photo by Lily Glass, styling by Julia Wester, styling assistance and crafting by Jess Hong.)

it's important to vote...

Oh Joy! Vote

One of the most important duties of every citizen in a democracy is to vote! This year feels especially important with the myriad of things happening in our world right now, but we should always be this amped up and passionate about our part in making sure our leaders represent our values and rights.  

1. The first step is making sure you're registered to vote. If you're qualified to vote, are you registered? Here are some places you can check. If you have moved or made any changes to your address or location recently, this is extra important to make sure your information is correct:

2. If you are not registered, the second step is to register! It varies by state, so do your research and get registered.

3. The third step is to get informed! Everyone knows about the big election that occurs every 4 years (this November being one of them). But there are senate races, city and county races, propositions and ballot measures. These things directly affect you and your family. So find out what's going on, read up on both sides of the issue, and then make an informed decision. And if you're confused, ask for clarification. It's ok to admit that we don't understand something and get educated and informed by people or resources who do.  While we're at it, let's also normalize being informed voters that know and care about the issues. Here are some resources:

And finally, make a plan and VOTE! Each state has different opportunities and rules for voting. In some states, you can request an absentee ballot, request to vote by mail, vote early, or go to your local polling place on November 3rd. The only wrong way to do it is to not vote if you're qualified to! :)  There is also some misinformation out there that you can vote by mail, and then go to your local polling place to vote. This is not correct. You cannot vote more than once!

If you're all set and ready to vote, then encourage your friends, family, neighbors, and anyone else you know to vote. Democracy only works and represents the voice of the people when all the people contribute their voice. We can do this!

(MY VOTE GEAR: hat by Rad Hats, tee by Camp by Julia Wester, necklace by Thatch Jewelry)

when you're feeling blue...

Good Things List

These times have been an emotional roller coaster for all of us for sure. Some days I feel really great and have a handle on our current state of life, and sometimes I'm totally bummed out. The thing I try and do on those bummer days is to think about all the great things that have happened since quarantine and write them down in a place I can see, look at, and add to. It's fun to get the kids involved, too, when they inevitably miss school and friends and "regular" life. All of us can always be refreshed by looking at and adding to your Good Things list!


Craftopia - HBO Max

When it comes to TV time, my kids have started to break outside of the kids' cartoons and watch shows with real people. They now love creative competition shows which have been so fun to watch as a family. So I'm excited to tell you about this amazing new show that launched a couple weeks ago on HBO Max called Craftopia. Hosted by Lauren Riihimaki of LaurDIY with judges James Worsham and Toya Moore-Broyles, it's a crafting competition show for kids ages 9-15.

Craftopia - HBO Max

Craftopia - HBO Max

Not only is it completely family-friendly and SO MUCH FUN (my kids are obsessed!), but I'm a guest judge on the 5th episode ("It's Lit!")! The challenges are so fun, the set design is RIDICULOUSLY GOOD, and I'm so thrilled to have played a small part in it. We filmed this back in November—and to see it now in our current times—I'm so proud of the diversity of the cast and the contestants. It's an amazing sign of our times and the evolution of TV. I am so happy that all kinds of kids can see themselves represented in this show and feel inspired to explore their creativity. Thanks so much to the team at Craftopia for having me...I truly had the best time filming this!

(Top photo by Oh Joy, others are screen shots from the show)

how to talk to kids about racism...

A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory

The other night, we found ourselves explaining to our kids what happened to George Floyd and so many other Black Americans recently. It’s a story we didn’t expect to tell because it’s a story that shouldn’t have happened. But it did happened and incidents like these have been happening for centuries.

Maybe you know we are all equal, and you know that these actions are horribly wrong. But have you consciously sought out to be anti-racist? Have you attempted to make sure that you don't allow for it in your communities, in your speech, in your family, or in your future? Maybe now, you are in a place that you are angry and you're really trying to understand. Maybe you have never known how bad things are because you grew up in a neighborhood where everyone looked like you and therefore never experienced it. Maybe you did grow up in a diverse area but because your skin is light, you never experienced racism.

If you haven't started yet, today is the day to implement anti-racism in your home. Although you may have wished you knew more earlier or you did more sooner, it's never too late to start. I don't have all the answers to fix this, and I am not a certified teacher. But what I do know and what I can share with you is how we have been active about introducing anti-racism into our household at an early age and how we actively teach our kids about racism.

Here are eight ways to start...

1. Introduce the topic of racism early. Often with topics that are controversial, uncomfortable, or serious, parents assume that they need to wait until their kids are older to talk about it. I have found that around 5 years old, a real conversation about topics like race can be understood on some level. Every child is different, so if you feel you can have a conversation with a younger child, then do it.

2. Don’t shy away from these conversations. Your kids can understand more than you think. If you've ever been sitting casually at home when one of your kids ask about sex, why two men can get married, how a man can change to become a woman, or why our skin color is different than someone else's, don't put off having those conversations. You and your partner may look at each other awkwardly wondering who will take the lead on answering the questions, but now—in that moment—is the time to do it. Don't brush it off, don't wait until another time. And definitely don't tell them you'll talk about it when they are older. Everyday that is pushed off is a missed day for your child to become a better human with your help. You’re adding to their lack of awareness by not telling them when they ask.

3. It's ok if you are not an expert. It feels easy to deflect conversations about racism when you’re uncomfortable and you aren’t prepared and don’t know what to say. Often parents think they need to have read a plethora of books on a topic to say everything exactly right. Sure, you should read books, read articles, and do as much as you can to educate yourself. But you don't need to be an expert. Speak to your child in a way they can understand and learn best. Does your child do well with visuals or pictures? Get kids books to help them and you. Do they learn well from examples? Tell them stories. Also, you are an expert at your own life. Have you personally experienced racism? If so, tell them what happened. You can also use stories from history to help give examples.

4. Walk in other people's shoes. Ask children how they would feel if someone was racist towards them. Children are naturally empathetic people. Giving them analogies, examples, or asking them to put themselves in someone else's shoes is the easiest and quickest way to start explaining this topic to a child that may have no idea that racism exists. Kids start learning about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks as early as pre-school and kindergarten. These are stories from history you can have at home, too. While you're at it, remind them that some of these injustices STILL happen today.

5. Don't assume that kids are colorblind when it comes to race. It's not enough to say there is no color or "we don't talk about skin color because we don't want our kids to see the difference". It's true that small children often don't see their friends by their skin color. I remember having a conversation with Ruby when she was 4 or 5 and referenced her being Asian. She said, "I'm Asian?" She didn't know she was any different than her friends until she was told in pre-school by a girl with blond hair that "light hair is better".

6. Surround your kids with diversity. Actively seek communities, schools, play groups, and friends where your kids are surrounded by families and kids that are different than your own. If you already live in a non-diverse neighborhood and cannot easily change this, you can also expose them through food, cultural institutions, museums, books, toys, and more. They need to see more to learn more. This is helpful also for kids under 5 who may not be old enough to have meaningful conversations just yet. Actively seek art for your walls, books for kids to read, and toys that show kids and people of color... not just your kid's color.

7. Kids watch who you are to understand who they should become. This is the time to check in with your own bias, actions, privilege, judgements, and way of being that your kids might pick up on. Having these conversations with them will help you reconnect with yourself. But remember, if you want your kids to become anti-racist, you have to truly be anti-racist yourself. There are so many resources right now that people are sharing on social media, so start with your own education to be better equipped for your children as well.

8. The bottom line is—you have to have uncomfortable conversations. We all have to be better to help support Black Americans and to help create REAL CHANGE. We have to do everything we can which includes educating the future of America so that one day they can live in a country and world where people treat others appropriately, kindly, peacefully, and worthy of all the same things.

If you personally have any other tips or resources you would like to share, please leave them in the comments below. I don't have all the answers, and we can all learn from one another.

PS. Some other book lists and resources shared by readers:
Books for Diversity
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Kojo for Kids
Librarian Annette
Embrace Race

(Photo above A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory)

our last day in the oh joy 2.0 studio...

Oh Joy 2.0 Studio

Today we say farewell to our amazing studio where we've spent the last 3.5 years of Oh Joy's almost 15 year history. This was what I called our Oh Joy 2.0 studio (here and here and here and here) as it was a big upgrade from our first one (which was an upgrade from my original home studio). This is the space where I grew my team to it's peak size, developed so many products and brand collaborations, opened (and closed) our online shop, launched our academy, and so much more.

We celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, and engagements. We made amazing projects, designed tons of products, and set beautiful scenes. We laughed and loved and cried and worked hard here. So many talented members of the Oh Joy team (past and present) have created here—Casey, Julia, Angie, Jess, Courtney, Traci, Nicole, Wilmarose, Kim, Lily, and Jenner. It's sort of like when you move from one home to another...even though there are new things to look forward to, it's always bittersweet to say goodbye! Another tenant will be moving in soon...and I am so happy to have passed it onto a good friend with an amazing brand who will love it as much as we did.

We're so excited to share with you our new plans and space for Oh Joy 3.0 (which the global pandemic has put on hold for a little while). Thank you as always for being part of this community, and we look forward continuing to share the new chapters ahead...

in my last few days of 40...

Oh Joy!

As I count down the last few days of my 40th year, it will be a very different birthday this year for sure. I can't believe I am saying this, but in the last few weeks...I've been happy again.

I spent the first month (or two) of quarantine being sad and angry over the life that was supposed to be happening right now for all of us...the things we were supposed to be doing, the places we were supposed to be going to, and the people we were supposed to be seeing, celebrating, hugging...

And then I realized, had that life that was "supposed to be" actually happened, I would have never spent so much unfiltered time with my family. Never would I have seen my kids' personalities blossom in the ways I have seen in the last 3 months with them home from school. Never would I have reconnected with the joy I once had in the kitchen where I now see cooking as enjoyable instead of something annoying. Never would I have felt SO grateful to have a home to sleep in and our health which I always took for granted.

I would have just gone on with that life that was supposed to be. These feelings are vastly different than those I wrote you a couple months ago. And that's not to say they won't change again...this is an ocean wave we're all riding together after all. But in this moment...right now..I am choosing to enjoy this alternate normal and all the things it has taught me.

Have a great weekend, friends...! What are YOU enjoying right now?

(Photo by Max Wanger for his series "Through the Looking Glass")

celebrating mother's day from far away...

celebrating mother's day from far away / oh joy!

Mother's Day is just around the corner, and it definitely feels different this year. Lots of us haven't had a chance to see our extended families in a while with our current social distancing. While we are in our homes and our moms are in their homes, how can we connect with them in an extra fun way for Mother's Day? I was inspired by the things we used to do with our moms when we were younger and figure out a way to do them together virtually! In collaboration with The Bouqs, here's something fun I did with my Mom recently....

celebrating mother's day from far away / oh joy!

celebrating mother's day from far away / oh joy!

When I was little, my mom and I spent a lot of time creating together. She taught me how to do calligraphy (which eventually turned into my first business when I was 12 years old :P). I also used to help her fold napkins (and came up with fun ways to fold them) and helped arrange flowers in vases at my parents' Thai restaurant when I was a kid. So I thought it would be fun to send her matching bouquets (I love the pastel mix of roses), and we could prep and arrange them together virtually!

celebrating mother's day from far away / oh joy!

Whenever you receive flower deliveries, they are all set and ready to be displayed in the vessel that it comes with (like this mason jar we received), but it's important to trim the stems at a 45 degree angle to help them drink the new water you'll add to their vessel. When doing this, I also like to trim the ends so that the flowers fit the height of the vase I have. I trimmed these down so they would sit about 6" over the opening of the mason jar. I did this on mine while my mom arranged hers at her house!

celebrating mother's day from far away / oh joy!

It was fun to chat about flowers (which we both love!) and also think about when we used to do this together when I was younger.

celebrating mother's day from far away / oh joy!

celebrating mother's day from far away / oh joy!

And, after our call, we both had a beautiful arrangement to have in our homes! What are some things you used to do with your Mom a lot that would be fun to do virtually with her this Mother's Day?

P.S. To help celebrate Mother's Day for your mom, The Bouqs is offering Oh Joy! readers 20% off through 5/11/20 with code: OHJOY20. And, see my Instagram stories today for another tip on how to get roses looking even more beautiful after receiving them!