Charlene Li

Linda+Matthew (2)

Instagram: @crazycuteco

Name: Charlene Li

Ethnic background: Chinese Canadian

Where do you currently live?  Toronto, Canada

Favorite drink to order at a cafe?  Cold Brew coffee

Occupation/title: Entrepreneur + Blogger at

How long have you been in this role?  I’ve been blogging for just a few months, but I’ve been an entrepreneur for 6 years now.

How did you initially get started?  Previously I was working as an accountant (CPA) at a global accounting firm, then at a major Canadian bank. I felt unfulfilled climbing the corporate ladder and wanted to get back in touch with my creative roots.  After my own wedding, I “accidentally” started a business designing invitations and stationery for family and friends. After two years, I was able to quit my corporate job and pursue my creative passion full time.  Today, I’ve launched a new business blog to empower moms and creatives to build their dream businesses. I’m also working to launch a gourmet snack food startup online early next year.

What advice do you have for other women who also want to be in this role? Don’t ignore the feelings you have that you’re meant for something more! It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of everyday life, and taking care of others that we forget to make time to nurture our own dreams and aspirations.  Anything that’s worth building doesn’t happen overnight.  It can take years of hard work to plant the seeds before we see anything bloom.

What do you do in your spare time?  Hit the playground to burn energy with my 3-year old, and my 10-year old German Shepherd! 

What or who do you attribute your success to?  My amazing parents — even though I was raised in a traditional Chinese household, my parents taught me the value of hard work, and have always encouraged me to be myself, and pursue my dreams, no matter how crazy they seemed!

Favorite quote? “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” — Steve Jobs

How do you handle your bad days?  Entrepreneurship is the path less-traveled and is a journey that often feels lonely. That’s why it’s vital to surround yourself with like-minded people who can relate to your struggles and way of life.  Having a quick chat with a friend helps me destress, and sharing my goals with others helps keep me accountable and stay motivated.  I also try to squeeze in a quick yoga or meditation session whenever I feel overwhelmed!

What and who inspires you on a daily basis? Definitely my family! One of the main reasons I chose to become an entrepreneur was because I wanted to be able to live life on my own terms. In reality, I feel like I work more than I did in the corporate world, but the key was having the flexibility to control when and how I work. This allows me to be present for my family as a mom.

Who do you consult for business decisions? In my newest venture, my husband is actually my business partner, so we consult each other for business decisions! We have to make a solid effort not to mix business and family time though… it’s challenging but worth it!

In what ways do you motivate yourself? I watch a lot of TED talks and read a lot of books by successful entrepreneurs. I love learning about how they started, and what struggles they overcame to get where they are today. 

What is your biggest struggle as an Asian woman in today’s society? How do you handle it? Many Asian women come from traditional families where they are encouraged to pursue higher education and establish professional careers. For many, this becomes the only definition of success. I’ve seen it result in depression and burnout for a lot of women because they feel like they need to measure up to other people’s expectations.  For myself, I found it helpful to journal and write my thoughts down on paper as an outlet rather than internalizing them.  This is one of the reasons I started blogging!

Do you have a morning routine and what is it?  My son is my alarm clock — he wakes me up every morning because he’s an early riser!  I help get him dressed and fed each morning and off to daycare before I start my day with a hot cup of coffee!

What is one piece of wisdom you would like to share with other Asian women? I believe today’s definition of “success” is multi-faceted, and shouldn’t be judged solely on earnings, but also the meaningful impact we can make on the world and our level of happiness. No matter what you do, the ultimate dream is to wake up every morning and be excited to “work” because you truly love what you do.

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