Born & raised in Taipei, Taiwan, Flora moved to Kansas City in 2001 and have worked for Hallmark Cards ever since. She is currently a senior designer at the Kids team. Flora is always doodling and making things, and when she isn’t creating, you might find her treasure hunting at vintage shops or flea markets. She collects art books, folk art objects, and toys. Flora loves to draw for kids and adults alike, and her favorite drawing tool is a black brush pen.
BEING BORN AND RAISED IN TAIPEI, TAIWAN MUST HAVE INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU MAKE. HOW HAS IT?
IT HAS LESS TO DO WITH THE CITY, but more to do with my family. My parents are both teachers. My dad is very handy and he can build pretty much everything. My mom, on the other hand, is always taking classes and learning new skills even until today. Growing up, I remember going to all kinds of workshops with her. Because of my parents, I am always curious about how things are made and I am really into learning new things. If I have a new idea brewing in my head, I get restless until I can figure out how it can be made.
DESCRIBE YOUR PATH TO AND HOW YOU ENDED UP AT HALLMARK CARDS.
AFTER GRADUATING COLLEGE IN TAIPEI, I went to Academy of Art University in San Francisco to study graphic design and received my MFA degree in 2001. During the last semester at school, we had a portfolio show, and Hallmark was among the many companies that attended the event. During the show I was invited by a Hallmark recruiter to fly to Kansas City for an interview at their headquarter, and then the rest is history.
YOU HAVE LIVED IN SAN FRANCISCO, TAIWAN, ALL OVER THE WORLD. WHY HAS KANSAS CITY BECOME YOUR HOME?
I HAVE ONLY LIVED IN THREE CITIES SO FAR: Taipei, San Francisco, and now Kansas City. Kansas City has become my home mainly because of my job. KC is actually the smallest city I have ever lived, but I’ve grown to love this place. It has changed a lot since I first moved here, and it really is getting better and better every day.
YOU DO A LOT OF WORK OUTSIDE OF HALLMARK. HOW DO YOU CREATE BALANCE BETWEEN YOUR DAY JOB AND PERSONAL WORK?
I DON’T TAKE ON A LOT OF FREELANCE JOBS outside of Hallmark, maybe one or two the most each year. I mostly just do personal works. I really enjoy working on my own stuff just for fun and without any pressure. I need this kind of play time after work to keep me creatively charged so I can face the fast-paced workflow during the day. I don’t have kids and that allows me more free time to work on my own stuff after work, but at the same time it could be bad because I work really late into the night everyday, way too late, actually. I never get enough sleep during the week.
“I NEED THIS KIND OF PLAY TIME AFTER WORK TO KEEP MECREATIVELY CHARGED SO I CAN FACE THE FAST-PACED WORKFLOW DURING THE DAY.”
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST RISK YOU HAVE TAKEN THUS FAR IN YOUR CAREER?
NOT MUCH REALLY. Careerwise, I feel like I am so protected by Hallmark which is the only real job I have ever have. But if we are to talk about the biggest risk I have taken in life, then moving to Kansas City is definitely at the top of the list, a risk I am glad that I took.
WHAT IS IN YOUR NETFLIX QUE THAT YOU CAN’T WAIT TO WATCH?
I DON’T WATCH TOO MUCH TV actually (but I spend way too much time on the internet).
WHAT ARE THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
MY SKETCHBOOK WITH A BLACK PEN, tea, and Facebook (which helps me easily stay connected with my friends and family in Taiwan).
“I HAVE ALL KINDS OF IDEAS BREWING IN MY HEAD... I JUST WISH I HAD 48 HOURS IN A DAY!”
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT THESE DAYS?
I RECENTLY LEARNED how to operate a laser machine, so I have all kinds of ideas brewing in my head on all the things I can make. I just wish I had 48 hours in a day! Also, IKEA has just opened in my neighborhood, 5 minutes away from my house to be exact. I still can’t believe it!
IF YOU COULD MOONLIGHT AS ANOTHER PROFESSION, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I WOULD OPEN A LITTLE SHOP selling a mixture of stuff like fun flea market finds, artist handmade goods, and well curated kids toys.
WHAT’S YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE?
THOUGH I AM NOT A DIE-HARD FAN, I’ve collected almost all the Hello Kitty Large Dolls (the kind with vinyl bodies). I also get sucked into the YouTube black hole way too much watching funny animal videos.
UNIQUE TO KANSAS CITY, WHAT IS ONE LOCAL RESTAURANT, STORE, OR SPACE YOU LOVE?
I’D LIKE TO USE MY TYPICAL SATURDAY AFTERNOON ROUTINE to introduce you to some special places that I love in Kansas City. I love going to the little Vietnamese restaurant named Hien Vuong inside the historic City Market on Saturdays for lunch; I always order their rice dish with pork chop and finish off my meal with a Vietnamese iced coffee. After lunch I would go to River Market Antique Mall which is my favorite place for unique vintage finds. They have something for everybody, and I can easily spend a few hours there digging and looking for treasures. After that, I would go to the vigil mass at the Holy Rosary Church at Columbus Park which is only a few blocks down the road from River Market. It’s a sweet little old church tucked away in the Italian neighborhood. Or I would go to the Redemptorist Church in downtown KC, at the corner of Broadway and Linwood. It’s a very grand gothic style church. I love going there not only to worship, but also for artistic inspirations because of all the old stained glass windows, statues, and its beautiful architectural structure. After mass, on my way home, I usually would drop by Artist & Craftsman Supply on Southwest Blvd, my favorite local art supply shop, to get some doodling supplies or just to check out what’s new. It’s a big, well-stocked store and the price is very good. They also offer local discount.