Thursday, November 13

Mama Nida's Asian Market awarded Diversity Award

It's one thing to receive recognition for volunteering for an organization. It's another to be recognized by the local business community as someone who is worthy of an award for creating diversity in the community. For that I am greatly humbled.

Chamber of Commerce Diversity Award Luncheon
So let me tell you more about the history of what is now Mama Nida's Asian Market. Going into college, I was not sure what I wanted to do as a career. I started off with Computer Science but quickly realize that it wasn't for me. I chose Angelo State University to be able to stay close with family and I like the small town feel of San Angelo. My mother bought "Asian Food Mart" my sophomore year an I spent my free time working for her. From there, I changed my major to Business management and got my bachelor's degree in 2006. My mother sold the market that same year.

In 2007, San Angelo found itself without an Asian market. Although local supermarkets tried to compensate for the lack of Asian groceries in town, it was not enough for the local residents who have become accustomed to having a market in town.

So I opened Mama Nida's Asian Market on Bell street. I chose "Mama Nida" in honor of our late Aunt Nida Miller who owned the building. She passed away 9 months prior to us opening. I chose to name it  after her as a reminder of her dreams. She died young but during her lifetime, she had always paved our way to success, she was our #1 cheerleader and encouraged us to do the best in everything. Many that knew her knows of her generosity and her love for her family. In every goal reached for this store, I thought of her and her dreams for us.

My family pitched in with time and money to make this store grow and it provided us a place where we can see each other everyday. My father's salon is next door and he loves the idea of his family being there with him all day.

Ladies from the Association of Asian-American Women 
Aside from providing the best quality of Asian groceries and gifts, I wanted Mama Nida's Asian Market to be more than just a specialty grocery store. I wanted to show our customers more about the Asian Culture. With the help of my husband, we created our blog in order to share local culture events, recipes, cultural articles and links. We wanted to reach out to our customers and share our passion for our culture. We took advantage of the free social media, such as Facebook, as an outlet and to be able to talk to our customers.

We sponsored the local Asian groups and organizations in town and worked with them to educate about the Asian culture and the diverse ethnicity within the culture. The ladies of the Association of Asian-American Women are my role models and mentors. They came to celebrate with us at the luncheon.

Thai Cooking with The Carrikers. Photo Courtesy of FotoLync
The Asian culture is a diverse culture within itself. There are so many different Asian countries and cultures. Learning about each of them is very interesting and learning the differences and similarities especially in the food is fascinating.

We sponsored a few cooking classes with a local certified Thai chef, Mickey Carriker. Her family was gracious in welcoming us into their home kitchen.The response for these classes was overwhelmingly. People kept asking for more and we plan on doing more.

In mid 2013, my mother and my middle sister decided to take over the market as I ready myself and family to move to Austin. But there is a saying well known to San Angeloans "Once in San Angelo, your heart will always be in San Angelo." As luck would have it, we ended up not moving due to my husband's company. My mother and sister handled the daily works of the market and I handled the inventory. I also turned my hobby in jewelry-making into my 2nd business, Bamboo Flowers Art & Jewelry.

Then earlier this year, I came back to handle the management in order to help my mother as my sister moved away. Now that our youngest sister is in college, she is helping with the store as well. All of our family members has worked for our store including nieces and nephews. Learning the basics of business helped them gain experience as they sought to find their passion in their career.

We are coming on our 10th year in business and we are still very much passionate in a market that will provide not only food but the diverse aspects of the Asian culture. And we thank San Angelo for continuing to support us.

Receiving the Diversity Award from the Chamber of Commerce of San Angelo is truly an honor, not only to me but to my whole family. And many thanks to our customers for helping us get to where we are today.

 - Girlyne White.

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