In occasion of the very first New York Chinese-American Heritage Week, and the celebration for China Day held October the 1st, we have met Caterina Han, the First Chinese-American Impact Influencer, to talk about our relationship with China and her upcoming projects.

Q: Hello Caterina Han, we met you last year and you mentioned you were working on the release of your first book. At what stage is that project?

Over the last year or two, we’ve heard and seen a stream of stories been told and live events been streamed by women on equality, inclusion, and justice in American society. I don’t know why, but I have this incredible quest inside me and pulling me into this space to find out more. I have been following closely and personally attended numerous events under Women Empowerment Forums and Summits. Out of all the events I’ve been to, there’s one common theme which caught my attention, looking at the speakers on stage and audience at large, I couldn’t help but wonder “where are all the Asian women?” It triggered me to dig deeper and it makes me look at my own life – a Chinese girl growing up in a society which emphasizes and values centuries-old traditional beliefs on women and gender roles, despite all the skepticism and doubts raised from my surroundings, I decided to move to the States alone well into my adulthood at the time. Almost a decade since that relocation decision, while attending all those forums and conferences on women empowerment, I suddenly realize my unconscious decision made 10 years ago to move to a new country myself, completely new surroundings despite all odds really make sense to me now. I am empowered by what’s going on and I want to get on stage to tell my story, and I want to inspire my peers to speak up to join the movement on women empowerment. So, the idea to write a book really came from my experience and observation of current events on women empowerment as a modern Chinese/Asian woman. It really comes down to tell a narrative from a modern Chinese/Asian woman’s experience and perspective, as that is what is missing from the current events and rhetoric.

Q: So more specifically what can you tell us about what stage is your project now?

As mentioned earlier, I participated numerous events, forums and summits on women empowerment for almost two years now, I consider I’ve done enough research and it’s time to put my words, i.e. this book out there as a new voice, a narrative from a Chinese/Asian woman on the topic of women empowerment. I have not written a published book before, so it gets me very nervous and it took me almost 18 months to come up with the structure of the book which I feel good about to adopt. I am currently working on the marketing materials with my publisher and after it’s reviewed then I will announce the book release information. Overall, I hope I can finish this book sooner, and looking at an initial book release time around March 2020 for Women’s Month.

Q: On the news, we see more and more frequently the importance of the Chinese market and of Chinese buyers especially with reference to luxury products, but we also see that the relationship between Western brands and Chinese buyers sometimes can be still problematic. What are your thoughts about this very important topic?

It’s a well-known fact in the luxury industry that Chinese buyers make up one-third of the world’s luxury goods purchases (for now, the number will go up more in 4-5 years, according to industry research), are undoubtedly important clientele. Yet we’ve seen unfavorable and even unforgivable marketing campaigns toward Chinese buyers by a number of Western luxury brands on several occasions within the last 12-month period, from Dolce & Gabbana’s “tribute to China” disastrous social media marketing campaign late 2018 to the recent t-shirt controversy by almost a dozen luxury brands (to name only three here, Versace, Givenchy, Coach) which were found out one way or another, printed t-shirts listing Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries, which made Chinese consumers felt extremely offended and unforgivable, especially during the current protest situation in Hong Kong and time sensibility. All these unfortunate incidents should send a clear signal to the industry and the luxury brands that it’s time to better understand their biggest clientele and come up with the right marketing message and campaign to meet Chinese buyers’ expectations and desires. In this regard, I see a big hole that needs to be filled and decorated with new paint. I would also add that on the movement and message of women empowerment, brands need to do far more featuring Asian women. I will have one chapter in my book specifically dedicates this “empty” phenomenon and huge missing opportunity by the brands to empower Asian women to be their authentic, confident, empowering self. To address this issue further, I see the urgency to bring the conversation on a bigger and larger platform, hence I’m determined and decided to come forward as the First Asian Impact Influencer to speak up publicly about some critical issues facing Chinese/Asian women. I’m working with a few brands as their brand ambassador and I’m hoping to collaborate with more influential brands on Asian Women Empowerment, as I deeply believe the path to equality and empowerment for Asian women is profoundly important, the message will touch upon and ultimately it will inspire millions of lives, to say the least. For me to embark on this journey, I felt my work just get started.

Q: Thank you for these insights. The next year 2020 is going to be the Italy-China Year of Culture and Tourism, and recently these two countries have tied in their relationship and exchange. How do you interpret this process and what do you foresee for the future of these two countries together?

Yes, the next year 2020 will be the Italy-China Year of Culture and Tourism. It’s great news for both countries and its’ people in terms of tourism, cultural exchange, and business and trade interactions. I saw a recent article that mentions that Italy saw a 200 percent year-on-year increase of Chinese tourists in 2018, and it’s set for further gains with a new partnership between Italian and Chinese tourist companies. From Chinese individuals and business perspective, it’s going to be an unstoppable momentum as more and more are a desire to see the world, and want a unique experience. When certain unfavorable and unwelcoming events take place at one geographic location, naturally the desire to travel to another welcoming and pleasant geographic area is undoubtedly the trend. It’s not a secret that Italian and Chinese share many characteristics and pay emphasize on food, family, culture, and relationships. So, I think the strengthening ties between Italy and China are a good thing indeed for both countries, their business and people on an individual level.
Livein Magazine, and you as the Chief Editor were the first media hub to interview me last year, and now about my debut book about Asian women empowerment, I am very grateful. I look forward to collaborating with more Italian brands and media outlets on this important subject to deepen the two countries’ understanding and exchange. Personally, to envision a powerful marketing campaign from a western brand on Chinese/Asian women, it has to come from an Italian brand and fashion house, given its’ profound reputation in the business which pays tribute to a woman on her unique class, elegance, classy, beauty, and style. Again, 2020 is going to be a very important and exciting year for Italy and China, and most importantly, for the people who share many common traits. I can’t wait to contribute, ways that are impactful and empowering. As marketers, it’s time to tell the story, from an Asian woman’s perspective, she too, is inspiring and leading the movement on equality and empowerment. It’s time to lookout for a new Mulan.

Interview and pictures by Joseph Ralph Fraia

Caterina Han

Caterina Han

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