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Empire at Home: Big Bad Wolf

Our Empire at Home series have so far featured visual artists: Open Daily who is using this time to sharpen their skills and check-in on others and Flavorinnovator who shared some wisdom on using this time to refine one's branding.

This week's post features a chef who takes a spiritual and wellness approach for remaining creative through these times.

If you're unfamiliar with our Empire at Home series, we're shining light on different creatives to show how they're continuing to build their empires. Our hope is that you too find light in building your own Empire while at home.


Haejin Chun -- feminist chef and community-gatherer -- uses her inner power to fuel her business and... nowadays... navigate this realm called Shelter in Place.

Haejin is the founder of Big Bad Wolf, a pop-up dinner series in the Bay Area known for its intimate ambiance, artistically plated food, cannabis-infusions, and heart-made intentions. She does not take lightly the power food has in bringing people together; she uses food to highlight that sense of togetherness and create a community of honoring the present.

Knowing how connected Haejin is with her community and having experienced one of her dinners myself, I was curious to see how this matriarch-in-the-making is pushin through a time of social distancing.

A few things remain clear after interviewing Haejin: this pandemic isn't stopping her from showing up for her people nor is it silencing her power. She is continuing to do what she can for her business and for others while remaining true to herself.

This is something she wants other creatives to remind themselves of: Yes, we are all literally in a new predicament. But, as creatives, we are accustomed to the constant struggles already. We just have to focus on finding new solutions that work for us.

One new approach Haejin has, for example, are deliveries. While hosting events is currently out of the question, Big Bad Wolf is still serving the Bay Area through occasional food deliveries. Here's her special bento box from 4/20 (hella cute, right?!):

While the deliveries has its owns set of trials differentiating from Big Bad Wolf dinners, they still give her a sense of fulfillment because she can continue to connect with her supporters and bring them happiness through food. One delivery in particular was emotional for her and her friend because, due to SIP, Haejin's delivery was her friend's first time seeing anyone IRL for weeks.

Another way she's maintaining her community is by partnering with Inside Lands, a virtual festival featuring an array of artists, entrepreneurs, those in wellness and food industries, and more. Through Inside Lands, Haejin i able to provide that welcoming-gathering that she's known for.

As Haejin showed us, your creativity can be used to keep doin' work and show up for others. It's a matter of finding new ways to go about continuing to create. She wants y'all to keep going.

Only *some* of the tools for Big Bad WOlf

This isn't to say that this motivation and leadership are always there for her. With cancellations of events she had lined up and the uncertainty of when the next one would be, Haejin admits that things change for her day by day:

Some days, I'm like, 'I need to stay strong, stay grounded and focused for my community. I need to be solidified to continue showing up and be strong.' Other days, I literally want to cry and possibly go a little cray.

What helps the Big Bad Wolf get through those off days is reconnecting with that inner power. She refers to the power she feels inside as the power her ancestors gave her. She knows that there's this force that she can trust to lead her to do the work she does. "I always had this sense of power and I'm trying to share it with as much people as I can... It can't be sold, it can't be bought, it can't be fucked with," Haejin expressed.

There are different ways she reconnects with this power to overcome a roadblock. Haejin exerts the need to surrender to these roadblocks sometimes by stepping back and be patient for that connection to her inner power to come back. Our disconnection from our power is often due to, as Haejin put it, "battling your own cray," aka your self doubt, the part of you that needs constant validation, low motivation... all that shit. That's why we have to surrender from our frustrations and ground ourselves to refocus.

Surrendering could look like different things for different people. For Haejin, it ranges from confiding in her partner or best friend, going on walks with her dog, enjoying a THC tincture.

What's important is that you recognize when you need to step back and surrender to reconnect with your inner power, however you need to. For example, we can keep pushin through on an art piece but, if it's not speaking to us, we gotta surrender and patiently wait to reconnect before either continuing or moving onto a new one.

Aside from connecting to your inner power, with or in-the-clear of the pandemic, Haejin asserts the need to be authentically you:

Personal level, work level, brand level, whatever it is: be you. Always be you... Lean into being you so hard that it is an affirmation.

She credits staying true to herself to "why people fuck with me and show up for me."And this honesty is key in putting your work out there and representing yourself, especially in this time we have to remain digital.

Find your voice. Whatever you do -- a blog, Instagram Story, TikTok, whatever -- if you're gonna post it, go for it. Don't hide behind some fancy language or be worried about being politically-correct or likable all the time. Don't do it for likes. Do it for the authenticity of you.

Maybe you're a chef like Haejin or a musician or a graphic designer

Or maybe you're not in the creative field but you're a teacher or a delivery person or a nurse

Whatever your Empire may be, know that you too have an inner power to hold onto through this pandemic and onwards. To find it, as Haejin repeatedly proclaimed, be you.

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