The Girl Who Lived in a Yurt and Became an Entrepreneur
Erica was an editor, this is the story of how she refused to accept what life’s thrown at her, and decided to get whatever she wants instead.
Erica was born and raised in Taiwan. She left to study in the U.S. at age 15 and later pursued her studies in Art Management in New York. While living in the concrete jungle, she fell in love with the city lifestyle – riding her bike from Brooklyn to Manhattan, visiting the farmer’s market for organic groceries, meeting and conversing with people from diverse backgrounds – she fell in love with that free spirited lifestyle.
Erica relocated to China in 2011. She first worked at an art gallery in Shanghai, then ventured north to become the editor of the Creator’s Project by Vice. Struggling with the outrageous rent in Beijing, Erica built a Mongolian yurt on top of a house in the hutongs, and called it her home for over a year.
“As a Taiwanese who spent half of her life in the U.S., why did you come to Beijing and start a business in the most demanding yet least lucrative field?” This is a question that Erica received most often throughout her seven years in the Chinese capital.
She kept her love for bikes in Beijing and would ride around the hutong alleys and red brick city walls in her spare time. For Erica, a ride on the bike is the start of another journey, and nothing can stop her from starting on the road. Later on, she found out that she was allergic to the pollutants in the environment and the food which made her miss the farmers market in New York. After searching all over Beijing for family farms and independent food producers, Erica found that the food they produced was healthy but not experiencing popular sales.
During one bike ride, she conceived the idea of starting a farmers market in Beijing to bring more delicious yet environmentally friendly food to more people. That was the start of Farm to Neighbours (F2N), a gathering of a few farmers in a small bar in Beijing to now a market of over forty to fifty different vendors.
Today, F2N operates out of the Guanshe mall around Sanyuan Bridge. Every weekend, there are over 7 local farmers, 19 food stalls, 11 crafts stalls that welcomes hundreds of guests in this Beijing farmer’s market. After the addition of a few more friends, F2N has now become Erica’s life and career.
When asked about Erica, her friends would say that she is someone who puts thoughts into action. They shared about how when F2N first started, it was held during the day on the weekends at a bar in Baochao Hutong. All types of interesting people would come and everyone would have a good time just talking and trying out different foods.”
As for Erica, her attitude towards life is also a powerful one: “When life gives me lemons, I wouldn’t think too much, or wait too long, because once I act, changes happen.”