Community Culture. To reach the American dream, we cannot do it alone. We need each other’s individual strengths to fill in each other’s weaknesses. I created a community culture with aligned core values where we support each other’s life goals and work together to build our Blooming Aces platform, where we can be each other’s referral and affiliate partners. We created a safe haven for our team to try different roles that are within their genius zone and passion in order to be fulfilling for them and productive for our team goals. What I guarded tightly are our core values. Be cautious with who you bring into your circle to uphold your community culture. I would rather lose a community member who doesn’t respect our core values than loose the integrity of our community.
Is the American Dream still alive? If you speak to many of the immigrants we spoke to, who came to this country with nothing but grit, resilience, and a dream, they will tell you that it certainly is still alive.
As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erna Blooms.
As the Founder of BloomingAces.com, Erna is on a mission to help over 10 Million entrepreneurs fast-track their vision and business revenue growth to 6 and 7-figure while growing their social impact.
With over 19 years of experience in launching 6 to 7 figure product launches, Erna’s work and clients’ have been featured with global brands such as Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade New York, The Body Shop, Fossil, Pottery Barn, Amazon, and many more. When she is not in her creative mode bringing visions to life, coaching clients, or behind the mic hosting Blooming Aces Podcast, she’s with her two girls on a hunt for the best sushi spread and delights in LA, or losing herself in anything Simon Sinek.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was a twin, born and raised in an entrepreneurial family in Jakarta, Indonesia. I am a second-generation Chinese-descent. As the oldest out of 4 children, I didn’t get too much attention, so I often self-taught myself to draw which I enjoyed. Growing up, we lived in a three-story house where the top two levels were our business manufacturing space, and the bottom floor was our family living space. Despite being a college dropout and raised by a single Mom, our Dad was a respectable, smart businessman and a family man. He created businesses from the ground up, including creating his own machinery, starting with silk screening on T-shirts, to plastic vacuum forming for toothbrush and moon cake containers, to seafood processing and exporting to Japan and the USA. Our Dad was always busy inventing and working. The most impactful memories of my childhood were how our Dad always shared the lessons he learned in his business journey, how he encouraged us to be honest, no matter what mistakes we made as long as we learned from it, and how he treated his employees with respect and care as if they were our own family. Our Mom was the homemaker and also helped our Dad with one of his businesses. She is a kind, selfless woman and an amazing cook, always putting other people’s needs before her own. But I had always wondered if there was anything for women beyond just being a good housewife and mom. I didn’t feel I fit that mold, even though I love and respect what my mom does every day for us. I remembered asking my Dad about what he thought I should be when I grew up. He said I could be anything I want, as long as I am happy. I didn’t understand this true meaning of “happy” until I started my own entrepreneurship 5 years ago.
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell us the story?
I would say curiosity and the opportunity to come to the USA. I was not sure what to anticipate by studying abroad in the USA, so I asked my Mom if I should go with my twin sister, Erni. She told me I should. Thanks to her advice, my sister and I avoided the political unrest that happened a few years later in Indonesia. In 1998, past political rivalry within the Indonesian government caused rioting and looting against many Chinese businesses and massive raping of Chinese women. Our parents escaped the country discreetly one night leaving everything they have built behind. They were granted asylum by the US government and eventually became US Citizens. The suffering of the Chinese people during the 1998 rioting impacted me so deep as a young woman that I haven’t thought about going back to Indonesia until a couple of years ago. I have always loved the Indonesian culture and variety of food, but I couldn’t ignore my personal resistance towards how the government was set up back then. Thankfully, things have now significantly improved.
Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
When my twin sister and I first arrived in Riverside, California, I barely spoke English and didn’t have a clear direction on what major to pursue. All I knew was that I wanted to have a career in the arts and interact with people. I have always loved connecting with people and making friends, so my language barrier was a tough transition for me. In college, I joined a non-profit organization called Circle K International (college division of Kiwanis International) to push myself to practice English. The following year, I stepped up to become the VP of the organization and was very active in serving our local communities through volunteer work. I had big shoes to fill since the previous VP won a year-end award during our annual convention. So, I did what I could to make sure our club stayed active in helping our communities. I recalled fond memories of our service club creating fun haunted mazes for underprivileged children. The joy that we brought to them inspired me to do more. Along with our club members, we organized MS walk, leadership camp, beach cleanups, feeding the homeless, Boys & Girls Club mentorship, and other fundraising initiatives. Our club was recognized, and I received my first-time-ever VP award during the annual convention for California-Nevada-Hawaii District. That moment made me realize that anything is possible when I set my intention and stayed focused on our team goals.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
I am grateful to my twin sister, Erni, for being there with me throughout the transition. Her desire to transfer to UC Berkeley ended up moving us from Riverside to Orange County to attend Orange Coast College for their transfer program. Following my sister’s path eventually led me to my own path. OCC was where I found my new career path of becoming a Graphic Designer and was introduced to Art Center in Pasadena by my Art Instructor. In 1997, I was blessed with the opportunity to pursue my BA degree in the prestigious Art Center of College Pasadena, California, where I found my new love for Packaging Design. I love creating great packaging design that speaks to the audience.
The year of my graduation, I became pregnant and started a family earlier than anticipated. I put my new career on hold to raise our daughter until she was 6-month-old when I decided to get a full-time job to help support my family. That’s when my creative career began in the fragrance industry, working alongside many multi-7-figure and billion-dollar global brands.
My first month working there was like living the “Devil Wears Prada” movie, and I prayed that I would not get fired. The fast-paced environment forced me to stay focused on learning from everyone, staying late and doing whatever was necessary to finish my projects, and taking on opportunities that no one wanted to do, so that I could be visible and grow. Through that dedication and hard work, I got my first raise after my first year.
Every year since then, I started setting milestone income goals and achieved them each year. After three years of proving myself and outdoing my own performances, I was finally promoted to the Art Director position, which I had been aiming for since I started the job.
So how are things going today?
After pouring 15 years of my life into the corporate world, putting up with the stress, and spending less time with family to excel in my career, commuting long hours, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I knew it was time to shift my priorities. At the same time, I met a local artist during a family gathering, who creates art prints and greeting cards for a living, which led me to reconnect with my passion for drawing art. With that, I gained clarity of my new purpose, which is to build a deeper connection with my family and audience and help other entrepreneurs achieve fulfilling business & lifestyle while making their social impact. I started my transition to entrepreneurship by creating an art brand called CuriousMorphologie.com and taking on one part-time design retainer. In 2016, I left my 6-figure corporate job and Creative Director position without hesitation to pursue my own business full time. My business grew from being an art brand to becoming a creative studio serving design retainers for startup entrepreneurs to mid-size businesses.
Two years later, in the middle of building my business, I made the difficult decision to walk away from my 18 years of marriage to end the toxic relationship for the sake of my own personal growth and the growth of my two girls. The journey following was not easy and was filled with a lot of self-reflection to overcome my personal life challenges. In 2020, COVID hit and shut down my 3-year strong retainer business.
It took me a few months and a strong circle of faithful friends and family to help me rise up and build a better business model. I started Blooming Aces Creative with a mission to connect over 10 million entrepreneurs to their superpower to build a profitable business and create a fulfilling, awesome lifestyle. Within less than 6 months, we were able to launch our website, rebuild and triple our client base, grow a new audience through our newly launched podcast on YouTube and social media, and create a supportive community via Facebook and high-touch networking. We have also established referral and affiliate partnerships with mentors, clients, and team members. 2020 was only the tip of the iceberg.
In 2021, aside from maintaining our current momentum, I am happy to share that we will be rolling out Your Next Level digital programs and Brand Your Purpose Virtual Retreat to help start-up entrepreneurs get the affordable support to implement their vision and get them to their next level.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Besides supporting OURRESCUE.org, a non-profit organization with a mission to fight against modern slavery for women and children, I’m focusing on bringing goodness to the world through my daily connection to help people discover their superpower and jumpstart their journey to greatness, which essentially will bring on a ripple effect of greater social impact.
In my opinion, someone’s superpower consists of one’s purpose (why), one’s genius (expertise), and one’s mission (legacy). I view each of us as an important piece of a world puzzle. Without one of us, the world puzzle won’t be complete. We are on the same level playing field with our own unique gifts ready to be connected on a bigger scale. My mission is to guide people in figuring out where their unique puzzle piece fits into the world. When they find this perfect fit, that’s when they are in their superpower zone to achieve their most fulfilling business and life. The more fulfillment people feel the more peaceful our world will become.
I see success as a journey, not a destination. I encourage and appreciate small consistent wins in life. My definition of success is the feeling of having achieved a fulfilling day by helping someone in need, being a listening ear for a friend, providing clients with quality results, being a true supporter for someone’s big dreams, sharing an insightful chat with strangers, and spending quality family time. I have a vision where a majority of people are awakened from non-serving past stories to embrace their true worth and pursue their greatness while building an impactful, nurturing community.
You have first hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you suggest to improve the system?
I am hoping that the US immigration system has become more and more efficient since the time I had to stand in a long line for several hours, starting at 5 am, for my immigration appointment to acquire my green card many years ago.
3 things that I would love to see, if these haven’t been done already due to Covid:
- Allowing online appointments and zoom interviews
2. Better status updating system with SMS option and live chat for questions
3. Faster processing time
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
I’d like to introduce you to my 5-Cs.
- Clarity of Your Superpower
As mentioned earlier, your superpower consists of your purpose (why), your genius (expertise), and your mission (legacy). Let me walk you through my journey to discover my superpower. In 2020, when I lost my retainer business and left my toxic marriage, I gained the time and space to slow down and contemplate my purpose. The Simon Sinek’s Book Club I joined during that time led me to a Jumpstart with Why course, where I found my core purpose–to connect with people and make friends through creative expressions, such as art, design, music, dance, or content creation. From making these connections, I gained a collective validation of my brand expertise and passion to help people get unstuck and grow to their next level. Now that I’ve found my purpose and genius area that people value, I realized the legacy I want to leave behind, which brought me a sense of peace and fulfillment beyond what I could have ever dreamed of. This discovery journey gave a new meaning to the American Dream–this state where you feel deeply the freedom of being in your best authentic self (superpower) and surrounded by your ideal community.
2. Curiosity and Care for People
In 2014, I was still working in my full-time job as a Creative Director and started an Instagram account to promote my new, hobby art brand. One day, I decided to follow someone named Tina, who lives in Germany, and she had 4k+ followers at the time. She thanked me for the follow but told me she couldn’t follow me back because she has so many followers already and she had RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) disease. I was curious about what RA disease was, so I looked it up and found some articles on potential cures. I forwarded what I found to her. Unfortunately, she has tried everything and informed me that it’s a permanent disease. Feeling helpless, I decided to create a new artwork called Hedgehog Dandelion, with the concept of letting go of your pains and uncertainties in life and turning them into wish and hope. I dedicated this art to Tina, and she immediately followed me. She said she’d rather follow someone who cares than someone who doesn’t. That was my turning moment that sparked a sense of fulfillment from connecting with a distant stranger through the art that I created out of deep compassion. I continued to build my art brand and together with my supportive sisters, we called this collection, Curious Morphologie, which was my first business. We debuted this art collection at a local Wisteria Festival that attracted a lot of buyers and visitors. The Hedgehog Dandelion became the #1 seller and absolute customer’s favorite through the years. In the Fall of 2016, I officially left the corporate world to pursue my own venture full-time to build a deeper connection with my audience and create art that inspires me and fulfills my new purpose.
3. Commitment to Courage
Being committed to courage is one of the keys to my current fulfillment state. It started with the courage to say yes to little opportunities, to learn new skills and failing multiple times, to invest in myself and grow a team, to pivot my current business and follow a new purpose, to start a family and leaving a toxic relationship, and to have faith and continue to support those in need when times are tough. Doing the right things daily could be hard at times, but based on my personal experience, the Universe has repeatedly blessed me with larger gains whenever I chose courage over fear.
When I first learned about my pregnancy in college, I mustered my courage to learn whatever it took to be a good mom for my girl. Supporting my family became my fuel in doing well in my corporate career while learning many new skills I didn’t know I would need for my future endeavors, which included branding, product development, sales, management, and sourcing. After 15 years of creating a successful career in becoming a Creative Director, I once again took the courageous step to leave my 6-figure position to start my own business. I invested money into mentorship programs, which propelled my growth to become a better business owner with the more progressive mindset to lead my team, guide my clients and build my community. Because of these decisions, I am now surrounded by a strong and supportive community, where I feel expansive to take compassionate actions to help those in my community find their courage and path to greatness. It’s a beautiful domino effect, starting with one courageous action and staying committed to it.
4. Connection Quality
Creating healthy boundaries has been one of the most challenging tasks for me because I’ve conditioned myself to say yes for so many years. It’s even harder with my newfound purpose to connect with people and make new friends. After a big jump in my business growth late last year, I realized that I was running out of capacity in energy and time. As much as I love collaborating with people one-on-one, I was close to reaching burnout. When I started analyzing how I spent my days, I noticed that I was allowing energy-draining people to take away time from what’s important to me. One of my business coaches gave me wise advice to practice discernment with certain people. Since then, I have been more intentional in focusing on connecting with people who are either uplifting my energy or giving me an equal exchange of energy through gratitude, better business, genuine friendship, core value alignment, challenging me to grow to my next level or providing insightful feedback. Saying no to time wasters and being mindful of the quality of your connection has been the key to avoid burnout and fast-track you to your goals and daily fulfillment.
5. Community Culture
To reach the American dream, we cannot do it alone. We need each other’s individual strengths to fill in each other’s weaknesses. I created a community culture with aligned core values where we support each other’s life goals and work together to build our Blooming Aces platform, where we can be each other’s referral and affiliate partners. We created a safe haven for our team to try different roles that are within their genius zone and passion in order to be fulfilling for them and productive for our team goals. What I guarded tightly are our core values. Be cautious with who you bring into your circle to uphold your community culture. I would rather lose a community member who doesn’t respect our core values than loose the integrity of our community.
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
- The quality of rising entrepreneurs with innovative and inspiring products to create larger social impact and the growing audience who support them. Brand design has become more valued to create effective messaging that connects to their target audience.
- The way entrepreneurs are collaborating more to support one another and rise together.
- The gaining popularity of thought leaders who value people and promote healthy team cultures.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Meeting Oprah Winfrey is definitely on my bucket list! She has been such an inspiration to me for many years as a woman of color, who has the courage to claim her worth despite her past circumstances and create greater awareness in important matters in our world. She shared her life journey unapologetically and has the ability to connect with the hearts of millions of people from various cultures and generations. I’m inspired by the way she carries herself and speaks up so eloquently and confidently. I used to watch The Oprah Winfrey’s Show every day at 3 pm while feeding my first baby girl. I love her Super Soul Sundays. It would be an honor to be in the presence of such greatness and get to know her on a deeper level beyond the social impact and wealth she has created.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
YouTube Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZI2r8qxKJ3ZL4prnv1a7VQ
Facebook Private Community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bloomingacescommunity
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!