Not only is she MULTI’s Cofounder and (formerly) the Chief Brand Officer but she’s also a highly accomplished influencer, digital creator and mother of one (two if you count her black cat, three if you count her adult partner who’s a kid at heart). She credits most of her life experiences to the sheer fact that she loves taking risks – whether it be in work, finances or love, and so far it’s always paid off. Nina is truly one of the most open and honest people I know, making this interview a breeze. She is both inspirational, and aspirational – get to know Nina below. *Note: Nina has since decided to focus on her family and thus step down from her role as CBO but she will always be one of our co-founders ☻
We’ve got your professional background covered on the Founders page, but we know that our work does not define us. So tell us more about you as the badass individual that you are. Who is Nina?
I am a Virgo sun, Pisces moon and Libra rising. That’s all you really need to know. Haha jk jk – but actually, the older I get, the more I realize that my zodiac is on point af and you’ll see that the more you get to know me.
As a person, I feel like I’ve lived so many different lives. I used to work at San Francisco’s City Hall and at another point in time I ran a cereal pop up in Vancouver. Those experiences feel like many moons ago but they were all dreams that I felt compelled to live out and I have no regrets cause now I know I’m exactly where I am meant to be in this season of my life. I feel like in that way I’m the human embodiment of “you have to try it to know it’s not for you”. Life is too short so I literally wanna do everything! Like once I ran a half marathon without any training and I am not a particularly fit or active person – I wouldn’t recommend doing it but it was an experience and now I know that I can. It’s the Pisces in me but I feel like my life purpose was to live out every dream I’ve ever had. The Virgo gives me the discipline and drive to achieve my goals and chase my dreams and the Libra allows me to be conscious and fair of how those choices may affect those around me, particularly my family. See what I did there? Full circle :)
Let’s get the business talk out of the way first. Why did you want to build a brand like MULTI?
At its core, MULTI is a wellness brand focused on feeling good. And at my core, that’s all I want to put out into the world. Everything I’ve ever created or built has been done so with the intention of helping and uplifting folks through connection, memories and healing our inner child.
My relationship with wellness goes back all the way to childhood. I think that becoming a mom in the last couple of years has really allowed me to reflect on my relationships with my body, food, fitness and wellness in general. And in that process I’ve realized that there’s a lot I didn’t know. It also solidified to me that wellness is typically reserved for those with privilege – access to education and wealth play a big part in who gets to participate and prioritize wellness, something that my refugee parents didn’t have. When you’re focusing on survival, it’s hard to prioritize and model wellness to your children. All of this to say, my parents did the best they could with the resources they were given, but I really had no concept of wellness or what it means for me to practice and prioritize it in my life.
The wellness that is marketed to us by the preexisting wellness industry caters to white folks. It’s constantly telling us what to do, what not to do and dictating who gets to participate in these practices. I never felt like I had a place in this space and that made me want to push further and further away from it. But that’s not what wellness is, it’s not for other people, it’s just for me. It took a long time for me to understand that I’ve spent the better years of my life twisting and contorting myself to fit into these preexisting molds that do not serve me.
With MULTI, we’re trying to create something different. Yes we sell products, but it’s more than that. Even if you don’t choose to shop at MULTI, if you can start to reframe wellness as it pertains to rest, food, movement and mental health as something that prioritizes feeling good, then I think we’ve done our job.
Okay now for the fun stuff. What were you like as a kid?
I was quiet. Introspective. Shy. Intuitive. That was me probably up until high school. That’s when I started to get louder, more demanding, more unafraid of my own voice. For better or for worse ☻
Growing up I did a lot of activities, but I never really got to choose. My mom put my brother and I in whatever free activities she could until we were able to get scholarships to do them more full time. I figure skated (solo, pairs and synchro), I danced (ballet, salsa, modern/contemporary and hip hop) and I sewed (a lot). At that time I didn’t consider myself to be a creative person because I was constantly comparing myself to my seemingly more creative peers but looking back I was a really creative kid.
What’s your go to comfort food?
I literally just compiled a list of all my favorite cuisines so I’ll share that instead cause it has all my fav comfort foods on it and I really can’t choose just one.
- Creole/Cajun (jambalaya & gumbo)
- Mexican (lengua & carnitas tacos, tortilla soup)
- Korean (sundubu-jjigae aka soft tofu soup)
- Ethiopian (doro wat with injera or just get a combo platter that has veggies and meat SO GOOD)
- El Salvadorian (pupusas ALL DAY)
- Japanese (sashimi & aburi)
- Serbian (cevapi & shopska salad)
- Indian (samosas, chicken tikka masala and spicy garlic mushrooms)
- Vietnamese (bun rieu & banh cuon)
- Filipino (adobo & lumpia)
What’s your current morning routine?
Yikes, I really ebb and flow on whether or not I have a solidified morning routine and you’re catching me at a time where it’s kind of non existent – all my parents you probably feel me, morning times are hard af. But this is what it looks like (usually): My son wakes up and tried to open the door so I wake up to the sound of him jiggling the door knob. I open the door for him and ask if he wants to cuddle in bed with me and his dad for a little bit. If he says he’s hungry instead then we will skip the cuddle and make our way to the bedroom anyways to wake up his dad. They’ll head to the kitchen to make breakfast while I get ready for work. Then I’ll meet them in the kitchen and start preparing my breakfast. We’ll all sit and eat together if there’s time and then I’ll rush off to work.
I’m working on getting to a place where I can have a better morning routine where there’s more time for me to do the things I need to do to feel grounded but I’m not there right now and that’s okay.
What is one habit you’ve created that has helped you grow as a person?
Take risks. Over and over again till it’s not so scary. Start small and work your way up to the bigger decisions. I grew up with parents that took a huge risk on moving to a new country, twice. And through hearing their story as a child,, I inadvertently learned that taking risks can pay off big time. They don’t always, but in all the times they haven’t, I have learned incredible lessons that help inform my next big decision.
There is no way that I’d be the person I am today if I didn’t take risks like quitting my jobs as soon I knew they were no longer a good fit, being vulnerable enough to welcome love with open arms even after being hurt and moving to another country, twice, in pursuit of my dreams.
And lastly but very importantly, what makes you feel good?
Decorating my home with my partner, adventure days with the whole family, cooking food for my family, kickboxing and dancing.