Grace Yoon of Qi Alchemy: “Setting goals”

I’ve always had a curiosity for start-ups and met successful entrepreneurs who also reinvented themselves, so I started asking them questions on how they got started. I then let my curiosity and mindfulness naturally lead me down the paths I was already exploring, which were Eastern medicine and herbalism. This led me to journaling everyday — reflecting, […]

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I’ve always had a curiosity for start-ups and met successful entrepreneurs who also reinvented themselves, so I started asking them questions on how they got started. I then let my curiosity and mindfulness naturally lead me down the paths I was already exploring, which were Eastern medicine and herbalism. This led me to journaling everyday — reflecting, manifesting, brainstorming ideas, setting goals, and envisioning my future life. I was able to reinvent myself by marrying my passion for traditional herbal remedies with my curiosity of the start-up world.

Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Grace Yoon.

Grace is an herbalist and the founder of Qi Alchemy, a Korean herbal company providing ancient Eastern remedies that are efficacious and time-tested. As a Korean-American pioneering the concept of K-Wellness (Korean Wellness), Grace is carrying on her grandmother’s legacy of holistic healing by bringing high-quality herbal Eastern remedies to the modern world while raising the quality standard of herbal remedies.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I am Korean-American and was born and raised in Dallas, Texas where I was the token Asian and most people did not know about Korea at all. I grew up in a loving household with immigrant parents who worked hard to make ends meet for my sisters and I. They also helped other Korean immigrant families establish their lives in a new country, since my father was bilingual and could help with translating. I had the privilege of living with both of my grandmothers, each of whom played an influential role in my life and shared their Korean heritage with me. My paternal grandmother was a farmer, and my maternal grandmother was an Eastern medicine practitioner.

At a young age, I enjoyed the outdoors and helped my paternal grandmother garden and sell Korean vegetables to local grocery stores. Our family ate fresh vegetables from her garden and made herbal-based fermented foods and remedies with my grandmothers. Because my maternal grandmother was an Eastern medicine practitioner, I started receiving acupuncture and taking herbal medicine at a very young age.

By the time I was six, I suffered from chronic health issues and was misdiagnosed several times. It was a stressful time for all of us, as we navigated the frustrating web of the American healthcare system. We initially assumed that America had the best healthcare system but ultimately resorted to non-Western means. We called on my grandmother, an Eastern medicine practitioner, for guidance. Through acupuncture and herbal remedies, my body was able to heal naturally. Looking back, this event made me question why these sorts of herbal remedies were unavailable in America, a country where three in five people die from chronic inflammatory diseases which result in strokes, respiratory illnesses, heart disorders, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I love the quote, “Life is a blank canvas. It’s up to you how you want to paint it.” We are the painters of our lives. We choose the colors, the brush strokes, and the shapes to paint a beautiful piece. Everyone is handed a blank canvas — a new start, new opportunities, and a way to express who you are. We all start with a clean slate, and each step we take makes a new stroke on the canvas. So accept the natural and spontaneous changes, and don’t resist them. Let the brush strokes flow naturally in the way they like.

How would your best friend describe you?

My best friend would describe me as a curious person who is active, persistent, optimistic, and loyal. I’m constantly exploring new ideas and concepts. I’m also very strong-willed and see every experience as an opportunity to learn, adapt, and grow.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much?

Clarity, patience, and empathy have been three important qualities that have helped me accomplish my goals. We live in a fast-paced world with many options available to us, so establishing clear and simple intentions have helped me set a foundation for accomplishing my goals. Nothing worthwhile happens overnight, and having the patience required to endure any challenge has helped as I continue to build my company. People are the most valuable asset to any business, therefore being able to show empathy and trust are core qualities to running a sustainable business.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

Before my second chapter, I worked in various corporate jobs from real estate to financial technology. I had no direction, and I never felt satisfied with my work. During the mortgage crisis, I was laid off so I assumed the next logical step was to apply to graduate schools. I ended up attending law school and quickly realized that becoming a lawyer was not the career path I wanted to pursue. I took time and space to really think about what I truly wanted to do. Giving myself time and permission to reflect and manifest have been invaluable in helping me pursue entrepreneurship. What is important to me is to make a positive impact in the world and help people better their lives. I felt climbing the corporate ladder wouldn’t truly enable me to accomplish my life mission. All of my various work experiences exposed me to different areas of business and helped me start my business, Qi Alchemy. It started purely as a passion project, and has become much bigger than I anticipated.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

I’ve always had a curiosity for start-ups and met successful entrepreneurs who also reinvented themselves, so I started asking them questions on how they got started. I then let my curiosity and mindfulness naturally lead me down the paths I was already exploring, which were Eastern medicine and herbalism. This led me to journaling everyday — reflecting, manifesting, brainstorming ideas, setting goals, and envisioning my future life. I was able to reinvent myself by marrying my passion for traditional herbal remedies with my curiosity of the start-up world.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

My grandmother was like a second mother to me, and her death impacted me and made me realize that life is short. We spend nearly 70 percent of our time working, and none of my previous jobs made me feel alive and excited about work. A few days after my grandmother’s passing, I was standing on my apartment rooftop overlooking the Empire State Building, and I saw a white flag waving. In my consciousness, the word “surrender” entered and resonated with me. I didn’t want to let society’s definition of success dictate the rest of my life. I knew if I continued on the corporate path, I wouldn’t be able to make an impact in the world. That’s when I decided to quit my job and work for start-ups while building my company.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skill set inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

I discovered a new skill set when I was hired at a start-up to manage multiple teams. This experience helped me realize that I have innate leadership skills. I understand what it means to be both a leader and a team player. When you’re working with multiple personalities, you need to be able to listen, understand, and empathize with them. I was able to build trust throughout the team, creating a strong foundation and enjoyable work environment. Founding Qi Alchemy helped me rediscover the creativity I would harness as a young girl through art and writing. I use my creativity to deliver the best herbal blends to my customers, in the beautiful way they deserve. Leadership and creativity have definitely been key skills needed as I started and managed my business.

How are things going with this new initiative?

This new initiative has chosen me, and I feel truly lucky to be able to introduce people to Korean Wellness modalities and products. I never imagined being a business owner or entrepreneur, but I feel both fulfilled and excited.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mother has shown me what it means to give to others without receiving and that has helped me get to this point in my life. I remember a time when an elderly woman in our community with ankle issues needed to go to the hospital. She had no family, so she called my mother, and my mother went to her home immediately. The woman had difficulty walking, so my mother carried this old woman on her back to the car and then drove her to the hospital. When I saw that, I realized my mother is incredibly strong and has a heart for people.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

When I started Qi Alchemy, it was just a passion project. I was exploring whether people would like these herbal pearls. One day at work, I was on break and I started receiving a flood of online orders and phone calls from people all over America, calling to order the pearls. An article in “O, The Oprah Magazine” featured my product! After this, I started to grasp the growing interest in Korean Wellness.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

Absolutely. Growing up, I loved sports and fitness, and I remember once telling my parents that I wanted to work in the fitness industry. As immigrant parents trying to survive in America, they wanted their children to have “safe and professional jobs” like being a doctor, lawyer, or accountant. They were fearful that I would struggle in the fitness industry being an Asian woman. Ads and images of successful fitness figures always portray tall, athletic, muscular, white men and women. This type of imagery was ingrained in my parents, who didn’t want me to work in an industry where my race might hold me back. Then I started to internalize this limiting belief that I couldn’t succeed in the health and fitness industry because of the way I looked.

Over time, the industry has evolved and that’s helped me to overcome these limiting beliefs and views. It’s not about looking a specific way anymore, but rather it’s how you feel about your overall health and wellness.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

My family has given me unconditional love and support, and has always been the core of my support system. And as a curious and social person, I love meeting new people. That’s one beautiful aspect of living in New York City — you interact with many different types of people and cultures. I’ve been able to maintain incredible relationships and develop a support system of core groups of friends and mentors.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

I view myself as a life-student and always like to challenge myself. I don’t like feeling comfortable because when you feel comfortable, you can become apathetic. Apathy then leads to a lack of learning. I enjoy getting out of my comfort zone, learning new topics, and getting involved in new initiatives. It’s always been a natural inclination to challenge myself.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Don’t just hear someone, but listen actively. It is essential to really listen and engage with those you work with. It’s equally important to deeply listen to your customers, so you can discern their true needs.
  2. Clear and effective communication is invaluable. This is pivotal in leading an organization and making sure your customers are also satisfied.
  3. Selfcare is not selfish. Take care of yourself, so you can take better care of others. A lot of people think if they work around the clock that they are at an advantage, but that approach is simply not sustainable. When you fuel your body with proper nutrients and have quality sleep, you perform better.
  4. Constantly read and learn. Read as much as possible, and about a variety of topics. It will help expand your mind, thought process, and creativity.
  5. Maintain strong relationships. Relationships are so important, and maintaining them is even more essential in all areas of life. Each interaction with people may give you a new perspective and help you grow as a person.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I really want to inspire curiosity in America, and encourage others to learn more about preventive health and nutrition. Preventative health care has been practiced for centuries in the East, and the benefits are so widespread. It’s helped Korea establish universal and affordable healthcare, where holistic practices like acupuncture are also extremely affordable. There is a reason why South Korean women will have the longest life expectancy in the world by 2030.

What do you want to be remembered for the most?

I want to be remembered for helping people live healthier lives.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Social @qialchemy

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