Hi! My name is Lydia and I currently live in Davis, California. I’m married to a wonderful man and together, we have 5 great kids! I own and run a small shop called Elanimage in downtown, Davis where we do alterations and rent out Tuxedos for special occasions. I became a business owner about 20 years ago. My ex-husband and I started out with one dry cleaning store in Sacramento. By 2008, we ended up opening three additional cleaners in Davis and that’s what brought me to this great, college town. In 2013, I opened my current Tuxedo shop and left the dry cleaning business altogether. Since then, I have earned my certification as a stylist as well as on nutrition and started focusing on helping my clients to feel and look better through wardrobe alterations and image consultation. I’m thrilled to share my story with you on how I got to this point and where I come from.
I was born in South Korea and lived in Seoul until I was 10 years old. My parents with my four siblings and I moved to the US and settled into Mosquite, Texas, of all places. I know it doesn’t sound very exciting, but my uncle lived there, and we wanted to be close to the family. When I first started school in my new country at the age of 10, I was the only Asian in the entire school except for my other siblings. Even after we moved to Richardson, Texas when I was in Junior High school, I was still one of the few Asians. It was difficult to grow up being different and I wanted so desperately to be like the rest of my peers. I allowed myself to reject who I was and where I came from. It was difficult time for all of us as we struggled to make a living but also to fit in in a country where we didn’t even speak the language. My life changed forever as I struggled with my self-esteem and self-identity.
I had four siblings and we all had to work so we can make a living. My parents ran a clothing manufacturing company where we had to sew massive amounts of clothes before they got sent to the department stores. I still remember all the days and nights we had to work to make ends meet. That’s when I learned how to sew. I was just barely 11 years old. I remember it like it was yesterday how my parents and five of us sat in front of the sewing machines putting together cut pieces of fabrics to turn them into garments. My siblings and I used to play games to see who could sew the fastest. From my recollection, I think I was the fastest but who knows, my sister or brothers would say they were the fastest. No matter what, one thing was for sure, we all worked very hard. It was a typical life of immigrants. We worked 15 – 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. My parents were determined to put all of us through college, so we can a have better life. Yes, they did succeed in putting all five of us through college including two medical schools. I thank my parents every day for all their hard work. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my parent’s hard work and dedication.
As children, working round the clock prevented us from having much social life. I, myself, became introverted and didn’t have many friends. I became more and more isolated and spent many of my high school years alone. Outside the school, I felt just as left out. Not only was I subject to constant teasing about my looks and appearance by my brothers but also by my relatives and other people. According to my parents, I started being judged as soon as I was born. To this day, my mom will tell me stories about how her friends and neighbors used to comment about what an ugly baby I was. I was permanently labeled as an “ugly child”. So, from an early age, I became convinced that what other people were saying about me and my looks were true, and I became very insecure and didn’t value myself as a person for a long time.
Even though my parents loved all of us unconditionally and did everything they could, they were pretty, traditional Asian parents. They doted on the boys more just because they were boys. It was a common, unfair gender treatment that takes place in lot of the Asian families. Growing up, I was responsible for lot of the cooking and cleaning and was taught to serve men, so they can take care of us financially. This kind of traditional thinking has been passed down for generations through tradition and culture, and no matter what I did, it was all around me. I felt worthless and never acquired the confidence that my brothers did. It’s something I battle with every day even to this day. It has shaped how I think of myself and my self-worth. Even though what you’ve been told as a child stays with you forever, shapes who you are and who you will become, I have grown stronger as a person and made me who I am today.
After graduating with a Sociology degree from the University of Texas at Austin, I decided to take some time off and do some traveling. Since I had relatives in South Korea, that became my first destination. During my visit there, I met my first husband and taught English to businessmen for the next 5 years until we decided to move back to the US to be near my family. By that time, my parents had left Texas and moved to California. In 1998, my husband and I settled in Sacramento near my parents and opened our first dry cleaning business. My first daughter, Hannah, was born 2 years later in 2001, and my younger daughter, Ally joined us in 2002. Having my two girls was the best thing that had happened to me. It made me want to be a better person and led me to many self-discoveries that would transform my life. After 16 years of marriage and business partners for 9 years, my husband and I divorced, and I moved to Davis as a single mom with my two daughters.
When I first moved to Davis, I started riding my bike around purely for an economic reason. I was a single mom with two young children struggling to make ends meet. At the time, I had this old mountain bike that I had bought from a friend. To save money, I stopped driving and rode my bike to get around and commute to work. I became known as a “bike lady”. Not only was it saving me money and keeping me in shape, but it also became a lifestyle. My life started changing for the better. My young daughters and I didn’t have much, but we were close and happy. For me, it was a time of healing and road to self-discovery.
Even though I still suffer from insecurities and low self-esteem from time to time, I’m at a much better place now. I have learned that unless I appreciate and take care of myself, I won’t be able to truly appreciate what life has to offer and find true happiness. One of the most amazing discoveries I have made along the way is being more conscientious about the food I choose to eat. I’m learning that what I choose to eat not only impact our health and well-being but the health of our environment. It has definitely become a passion for me in the last three years. We are what we eat and by eating healthy and nourishing food, we’ll be able to increase the chance of living an active and healthy life for many years to come.
I also try to have an active lifestyle by incorporating as many activities I can in to my daily routine such as walking, biking, running, hiking, and yoga. In the Winter, my husband and I also enjoy snowboarding. I’m fortunate that I live and work in a small town which has allowed me to be able to walk or bike to most places. Staying active has been a big part of my life for the last ten years, and it has helped me stay physically and mentally healthy. This has truly become a way of life for me. Furthermore, I have become passionate about educating myself not just on nutrition but on how I can make the right choices for myself, my family and our planet, so our future generation can continue to enjoy the beautiful things we have on earth as we do today.
I have created this website, so I can share my own personal experiences on the things I have learned through the years and all the exciting things I’m currently discovering. As I have gotten older, I feel like I have become wiser and more aware of who I am. It took me a long time to learn to love myself and to accept myself for who I am. It’s still a struggle to this day and as I’m writing this, doubts come over me and I must convince myself that I’m good enough. It has been a long journey to get to where I am today, but I got here because of where I have been. I thank my parents for their love and support, and I am grateful for all they have given me. I thank my husband who has been there for me through thick and thin always with encouraging words and support. My two girls who I love dearly has taught me more than what I can teach them and has made me a better person. My three step-sons have been most patient and understanding. I feel lucky to be where I am today.