Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Chris Cooper – 1,756 Words
Facebook @ Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend
“Before our time hand wipes were tiny little things that you needed ten of just to clean your finger tips.  Our wipes by comparison are seven times larger and substantially thicker; it’s like a linen towel.  Just as diamonds are the best in the jewelry world, Diamond Wipes are the top of the line in our world. 
And Diamond International Company is the one to bring it to you.  Diamonds truly are a woman’s best friend.”
          Eve Yen

      Entrepreneur Eve Yen never dreamed of becoming a business-person in her native Taiwan.  Instead she dreamed of becoming a singer, a teacher, wife and mother. 
Yen, the oldest of two brothers and one sister, was born in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan and given the name Hsiao I  which means elegant, slender bamboo.  She described her home life as very comfortable, happy and never lacking in love or affection.
Her favorite memories of childhood are of her father’s vespa scooter, which she described as being identical to the one with which Gregory Peck courted Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.

Every Sunday my father would take us to the beach.  My parents were both good swimmers, a skill which I inherited from them.  In later years, I would use this talent by joining my high school and college swim teams.  I also inherited my father’s Vespa, and his passion for it, and rode it throughout my high school and college years.”

       Her father supported the family by becoming a police officer at the age of 17.  By the time she was three years old, her father quit in order to venture into the world of business.

       He worked for a shipping company at first and later become a distributor for apple cider.  It was a very popular drink at that time.  He later became involved in the real estate business and this was his transition to becoming an entrepreneur and a businessperson.  I think I inherited those characteristics from him.”

Unlike her father, Yen’s first business was at a very young age – when she was in the fifth grade:
       “I went to the store and bought a whole bag of candy.  They were marble style candies that looked just like children’s marbles.  I then sold the candy piece-by-piece to my friends and classmates.  That was fun.”

       She proved her leadership skills and financial savvy while in college where she sold newspapers and designed and sold the school icon pin.  She was also president of the Girl Scout Club and vice president of her class. 
“When I joined the club they were almost broke but when I left there, they had savings in the bank that carried them forward for years.  I’m not into money just for the sake of money but if there is a goal and a purpose then I will try to find a way.”

       Yen attended National Chen- Kung University of Taiwan where she majored in Industrial Management and learned how to set up and manage a production factory.  She met her husband James, who was a graduate student studying meteorological engineering, and they got married at 1979.
After graduating from NCKU, Yen traveled to New York City to attend the New York Institute of Technology where she received her Master’s Degree in Computer Science. 
       She worked for a computer company only to find out that she was not a computer person but rather a people person. 
        She left the computer business and decided to open up her own business in Taiwan by distributing hot wipes, which were quite popular in restaurants in Taiwan at the time.  Eventually, her girlfriend suggested that Yen come to the United States to introduce hot wipes to an American audience.

       Yen decided it was time to go to America but not just to sell the wet wipe but rather to find a good school for her daughter Vivian as well as a nice neighborhood for the family to live.
"When Vivian was around junior high age, my friend told me I should let her come to the United States to study junior high, high school, and then get her into a better college.  I didn’t want her to go to boarding school.  I didn’t want her to grow up by herself.  So, in 1994, I came looking for schools and a place to live that would be close so Vivian could walk to school.”
Yen found a nice neighborhood in Rowland Heights, California and has been living there since 1995.
While Vivian was in school, Yen found that she had time on her hands, and she also learned that hot wipes were virtually unknown in the United States.  She set up an office and made a business plan and developed a business budget to see if selling the hot wipes in America was feasible.  She also went back to New York City and other major U.S. cities to study the market. 
“In the beginning, my concept was to come here to sell a hot towel; one that you could microwave and put in a warmer and serve to customers.  At the time, hot towels like that were only used in restaurants in Taiwan.  Many told me that it wouldn’t work because American people don’t use hot towels.  Others however said, “You have a great product so create the opportunity.” 

     “I therefore started calling on restaurants door-to-door, and I began attending trade shows.  The first and second year I did fourteen trade shows per year, educating consumers and restaurant owners about the disposable hot towel concept.  Whenever I gave away samples people would say, “Wow! This is very cool.”  So I knew there was a market.”

In 1994, Yen established the Diamond Wipes International Company.  Yen began her operation with one machine in a 1,700 square foot warehouse in El Monte, California.
     “The first four years we made some money, but we kept putting it back into the business.  We didn’t break even until the fourth year.  Since then every year we’ve experienced a double-digit growth in sales.” 
In 1996, DWI expanded the El Monte warehouse to 3,500 square feet and added two machines.  In 1997, DWI moved its headquarters to a 7,000 square foot warehouse, adding three machines and started contract packaging projects.

     “Customers sometimes say, “Hey, I have an idea.  I want to do this kind of wipe.  I want to put this kind of chemical in the wipes.  Can we do it?  This led us to start offering contract packaging and private labeling for our customers.”

      In 2000, the 30,000 square foot San Gabriel plant opened with more machines.  In 2002, DWI grew another 70%.  In 2003, DWI received FDA license and grew 83%.  In 2004, DWI moved into a state-of-the-art 100,000 square foot facility in Ontario, California.  In 2006, an additional 65,000 square foot facility was purchased in Bucyrus, Ohio.  

       “Since 2008, we have grown 85% in sales.  We also moved from Ontario to Chino giving us 30% more space, creating 35% more jobs.”
       DWI supplies wipes to major restaurants chains such as Tony Roma’s, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, and major foodservices distributors.  DWI also private labeled for major cosmetic companies and chain stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Whole Foods, and PETCO.
     Even though she’s worked hard at success she insists nothing was ever planed. 

     “When the opportunity comes I just do it.  When I was in college I only wanted to work 9 to 5 and take care of my family.   I never dreamed or thought:  “Someday I will become an entrepreneur and go to the United States to open my own business.” 

     DWI is a family business:  Yen’s daughter Vivian, 28, works for DWI and Yen’s husband, James, also works at DWI.  Yen treats each employee like family too.
With the company’s growth and success Yen’s schedule has eased a bit.  She used to work 16-hour days, six days a week and would travel every two weeks, at one point visiting four different countries within two weeks.  Now she works seven hours per day and travels only once a month on average.  She normally gets up at 6 a.m., makes breakfast, reads the newspaper, and watches The Today Show.  She is at the office by 9 a.m. and consults with her accounting manager, marketing manager, general manager, sales people, and visitors.  DWI now has 120 employees and also operators from temp agencies.
Even though her work schedule is slower paced, she thinks about work 24 hours a day. 
“I dream about work when I am sleeping.”

When not working she plays ping-pong with her husband at least three times a week.  She loves to cook and packs the dishes (usually the classic Chinese dish) into small packs to send to her younger daughter, Tiffany, who is a graphic artist based out of Chicago.  She reads voraciously; both in English and Chinese. Other than business and management related books, she also loves fiction like espionage.  Presently she is reading Robert Ludlum.  She likes to go to the movies and leans toward movies like  Untraceable and Michael Clayton.
       “Every Sunday I reserve a little time for myself.  I get up early and go hiking in the park.”

Yen’s advice for want-to-be entrepreneurs is to be confident and don’t let others tell you no or that your idea is impossible; do your homework, study the markets, focus on the goal, get an education, and constantly read and learn.
“It’s important to reserve time for yourself each week to read something, whether to grow your mind or excite the soul; reading is the key to much of my knowledge and success.”
       Yen insists that perhaps the most important thing one needs to do to become an entrepreneur is to surround oneself with positive uplifting people.  Yen is thankful to America for welcoming her and to those who uplifted her and supported her business.

“Can you imagine any other country in the world allowing a foreigner to come to their land, especially a woman, and to bring a product that nobody’s heard about and start promoting it?  I was never turned away because I was a woman or because I was Asian.  They American people helped me tremendously and opened their arms to me.  I look back and see how far I’ve come during my fourteen years in America (and) I’m just so blessed.  I feel so lucky that I’m doing business here and raising my kids in this country.  We have a good life.  And if you work hard and treat people right, good things will come to you.”    
Photo Description and Copyright Info.                     Photo 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7
Eve Yen.  Copyright by Eve Yen.                          Photo 3.
Film Clip from Roman Holiday of Greogry Peck and Audry Hepburn.  Public Domain.                                        
 Photo 8.
National Chen-Kung University of Tawain Logo.  
Photo 9.
Diamond Wipes Logo                                         
 Photo 10.
Eve Yen holding Diamond Wipes products.  Copyright by Eve Yen.                                                        
 Photo 11.
Diamond Wipes logo.                                                 
  Photo 12.
Dog wipes.  Copyright by Eve Yen.                     
 Photo 13.
Make up remover wipes.  Copyright by Eve Yen.             
 Photo 14.
Nail polisher remover wipes.  Copyright by Eve Yen.
 Photo 15.  
Diamond Wipes spouts.  Copyright by Eve Yen.
 Photo 16.
Dental Wipes.  Copyright by Eve Yen. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Children's Writer & Illustrator AGY WILSON: FROM INSECURE TO CONFIDANT

Christal Cooper      1,274 Words
Facebook @ Christal Ann Rice Cooper


Children’s writer and illustrator Agy Wilson, 56, had her first claim to fame being born premature in 1957.  She made the news in the local newspaper, with a photo of her in the incubator on the front page.   

“Because I was premature, I've always had eye problems though most people didn't realize I wore glasses from second grade. I'd lose them or "forget" them, and learned to recognize things.  There's a lot of ways to see."

       Her life in art is pretty much the same story:  she had the gift of art, but chances of her even immersing in art as career were not that good.

       Wilson is the oldest of three children and was reared in Gorham, Maine, by her father, who worked as a paper-coating engineer, and a stay-at-home mom, who worked part time jobs.  

       “I was a very sensitive kid with lots of hard knocks I survived. I found out one boy who'd been rather a poopy head on the nickname front actually had a crush on me. I incorporate a lot of that ribbing and those feelings into my work, because I don't think I was or am the only sensitive kid.”
Her first memory of drawing was when her mother told her to go draw so there would be quiet time in the house.  In fact, that was the only time her parents encouraged her and her artwork. 

       Her grandmother, however, encouraged her to draw and showed off her artwork with pride.
       Wilson credits her father for giving her the love of reading and books.  She read encyclopedias, dictionaries, and Reader Digest books. 

“One of the things I loved doing when I was a kid was copying some of the drawings of well-loved stories from the Reader's Digest.”
She then devoured comic books, science fiction, and supported her “habit” by babysitting.  She’d sty up until 4 a.m. reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula and books by Andre Norton, Taylor Caldwell, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. 

“I lived inside my head a lot as a kid.  I didn't read a lot of children's books when I was young. Ironic, eh?”

It was these books and with her father's famous saying of “Look it up!” that educated her and made her into the writer she is today.   Wilson also credits her teachers and librarians for making nurturing her into the artist she is today.

       She never took art courses in high school and never even aspired to be an artist because she didn’t get the encouragement from home and the lack of art courses available.

She developed a close relationship with her high school art teacher, Ms. Sandy Gordon, who helped her develop her art portfolio.  As a result, she was accepted into art school.   

       The same year she moved out of the family home, and was on her own at the age of 19.  She changed her name from Agnes to Aggie because it felt better.

       “I hated the way people said the "g" and "n" sounds together. People made fun of the French pronunciation. Aggie was forever taken as a handle.”

       She made another name change to Agy when she hit the web.  “I liked the way Agy looked and its uniqueness.”

Wilson worked numerous jobs to make a living and to support her art:  banks, Chinese restaurants, gay disco, shoe factory, key operator, past up and layout artist, teacher, maid, and nursing assistant.  She also helped put together the art school’s library as the school was going through accreditation.

 “As much as creating things is a part of me, I’ve had to balance it with other things, and usually other things won.  I don’t mind it.  It’s most certainly given me something to write about.”

Wilson tries to do something creative every workday, even when she is not motivated, and especially when she has artist’s block. 

“You can have one day off, but don't wait for the "mood" to strike. It takes doing it and sometimes making the caca de poopoo as I call it, to get to the good stuff, to make it all seem like second nature it has to be a part of you, and that can't happen if you pick and choose to mostly set it aside.”

Wilson places her family as number one priority and makes sure she has family time – she has two daughters 23 and 14 and one grandson, 4. 

Wilson gets up in the morning, drinks coffee, checks email and Facebook, and then spends most of her time in her studio, located in her attic.

“It’s next to a window and the stairwell is to my immediate other side. It feels kind of camp-ish, and I love that. I only need my computer for my writing and illustrating and they sit on a couple of wooden tables.”

In order to function as an artist, she has coffee, which she says helps settle her brain, and listens to new age music.

“I work in all kinds of different ways.  Sometimes an image comes, sometimes the words. I get stuff in dreams, taking a walk or a shower, or just plunking away. I try to write down my gut instinct, and then I make sure it was correct. Each project is different, so it's hard to quantify it.”

She has mild dyslexia which causes her hands to go too fast and for her to read things at a very slow rate, which she describes as “Freudian slips” which she welcomes as long as they make her giggle. 

“I try to look at some of my oddities more as serendipity. Sometimes I slow it down or switch gears entirely if it's too much of a problem. The coffee helps me quite a bit with concentration and balance.”

       The toughest struggle she had to overcome in order to continue making art was the health issues that began after the birth of her second daughter, when she was 42 and the death of her mother in 2005.   At the time she was awarded two scholarships:  the SCBI picture book workshop and the Highlight’s Foundation’s Chautauqua Workshop; but due to her health issues and the death of her mother had to put all artistic pursuits aside until she discovered Photoshop and the Wacom tablet.    

“Will Terry (http://www.willterry.comgave an inexpensive course on Photoshop and Folio classes.  A friend sold me her Wacom tablet for just a little bit and I've been able to draw again. The tablet allows me a lot of control, my monitor is a good size, and I've always had decent hand/eye where drawing is concerned.”

       She found an illustrating job for the Chemical Safety Administration and the Sandy Gilmour Agency.  Her illustrations appeared on the web, USA Today, online version.  This was the boost she needed.

       “I decided I had a little bit more play and my work was worth trying to get done and out there.” 

       She’s illustrated four book covers:  Eleven From The Southside written by B.R. Stateham, Angel On My Shoulder written by Mariam Hees, The Revenge of Thelma Hill, written by Margot Finke, and Down Under Callingwritten by Margot Finke.        
She’s illustrated two children’s books:  Windows of Gold and Other Stories written by Marianne Mitchell and The Magic Moccasins written by Tim Goodblood.

She’s written and illustrated Nana’s Gift; written the short mid-grade story Room Wars; and will publish a midgrade novel, Sara LeClere, in a few months.  

“I've done a lot of things, and in many ways I've felt compelled to create, but it's only recently I felt comfortable calling myself an artist or a writer or anything like that. I
just do stuff.”


Photo 1 and Photo 33.
Agy Wilson, today.  Copyright by Agy Wilson

Photo 2.
Agy Wilson in 1957.  Copyright by Agy Wilson.

Photo 3.
Agy Wilson in 1957.  Copyright by Agy Wilson.

Photo 4.
Agy Wilson in 1960.  Copyright by Agy Wilson.

Photo 5.
Illustration by Agy Wilson.  Copyright by Agy Wilson.

Photo 6.
Readers Digest, Australia editions.  Public Domain.

Photo 7.
First edition jacket cover of Dracula by Bram Stoker.   Public Domain.

Photo 8.
Bram Stoker in 1906.  Public Domain.

Photo 9.
Taylor Caldwell.  Attributed to James Seneca.  Public Domain.

Photo 10.
Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Public Domain.

Photo 11.
Self-portrait drawing by Agy Wilson.  Copyright by Agy Wilson.

Photo 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16.
Agy Wilson in 1975.  Copyright by Agy Wilson.

Photo 17.
Self portrait of Agy Wilson by Agy Wilson.  Copyright by Agy Wilson.

Photo 18.
Illustration by Agy Wilson.  Copyright by Agy Wilson.

Photo 19.
Newspaper clipping of images of Agy Wilson in 1975.  Copyright by Agy Wilson.

Photo 20.
Illustration by Agy Wilson.  Copyright by Agy Wilson.

Photo 21.
Jacket cover of Eleven From The Southside written by B.R. Stateham. 

Photo 22.
A cup of coffee. Attributed to Julius Schorzman.  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.

Photo 23.
Jacket cover of Angel On My Shoulder written by Mariam Hees.

Photo 24.
Jacket cover of The Revenge of Thelma Hill written by Margot Finke.

Photo 25.
Jacket cover of Down Under Calling written by Margot Finke.

Photo 26.
Wacom Bamboo Capture graphics tablet with supplied inductive pen.  Attributed to DragonLord.  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Photo 27.
Jacket cover of Windows of Gold and Other Stories written by Marianne Mitchell

Photo 28.
Jacket cover of the Magic Moccasins written by tim Goodblood.

Photo 29.
Jacket cover of Sara LeClere written and illustrated by Agy Wilson.

Photo 30.
Jacket cover of Room Wars written and illustrated by Agy Wilson.

Photo 31.
Jacket cover of Nana’s Gift written and illustrated by Agy Wilson.

Photo 32.  
Illustrated page from Nana’s Gift, written and illustrated by Agy Wilson.