Celebrating Asian Heritage Month On TikTok: Garbo Zhu

May 17, 2023

From starting food trends to celebrating cultural moments and inspiring others, TikTok’s #APIFamily brings creativity, authenticity and pride to the platform’s vibrant community. To celebrate Asian Heritage Month, TikTok is honouring its #APIFamily with the debut of its first-time TikTok Asian and Pacific Islander Visionary Voices List, alongside an in-app #APIFamily programming hub that will feature #AsianMusic playlists, an exciting LIVE line-up starring musicians, dancers and artists, plus a spotlight series to recognize inspiring API creators, SMBs and community voices. We chatted with one of those voices, Garbo Zhu, a self-taught potter and content creator who specializes in grumpy ceramics, to learn more. —Vita Daily

Tell us a little bit about yourself to start.

Hi! My name is Garbo, a potter based in Montreal Canada with a handmade pottery business called Grumpy Kid Studio! Back in 2020, I graduated with my architecture degree and started working from home as a BIM specialist. We were forced to stay home and sit in front of a computer for work and for fun. I was searching for an outlet to release my little “creative bug”, and air dry clay seemed like the best medium at the time! It was easily accessible ($20 for a pack from Amazon), and no kiln was required. I would add funny faces on them to add personalities and paint them with whimsical patterns and shades. After I have created a new piece, I would photograph it and post it on social media. Slowly, it gained traction and people started inquiring about my work, which got me searching for a sturdier material and that’s when I found ceramics! I took one hand-building class and the rest is history! My favourite thing about the little grumpy face is that it adds a bit of cuteness and attitude to your everyday mug, so you are less grumpy before you take your first sip of coffee 😉

How did you achieve (and continue to maintain) your amazing TikTok following/fame?

The video that “blew up” my following is the “Make a sandwich plate for my husband”. The goal of the video is to create a sandwich plate for my husband who doesn’t like to put his sandwiches on a plate. I have been creating different versions of making xxx for xxx, with other ceramic content in-between.

What do you like about TikTok as a platform (as opposed to other forms of social media) and how do you use that platform to impact, influence and inspire those that follow you?

TikTok speaks to the audience more authentically and I found it’s also easier to reach out to your local community this way. I would use TikTok for educational purposes as well, examples are showing how to create certain ceramic pieces in my studio!

What topics do you cover/share most? Where do your passions lie?

I often share about how a piece comes together, and what is the story behind each piece! I love educating my audience about the process of creating a piece through story-telling!

Have you ever had to deal with haters on social media? If so, what’s your approach?

Not a lot surprisingly! If it does happen, I would simply block them. 🙂

What have some of the highlights of being so prominent on TikTok been for you?

The best feeling is when a follower messages me and tells me how my videos have inspired them to take on an extra hobby like pottery!

May is Asian Heritage Month—what is the significance to you, and how are you using your voice to create change, establish community and help members of the #APIFamily feel seen and understood.

For me, Asian Heritage Month is a great opportunity for the world to see all the amazing API voices we have in the community thriving in different fields! It’s an honour to be mentioned in the Visionary Voices this year by TikTok as a small business owner. It truly shows the world that we can be anyone we want to be by following our passion. Through the power of entertainment platoforms, like TikTok, our authentic voices can be spread to different corners of the world!

For those of us outside the #APIFamily community, what can we do to become better allies?

I would say simply interacting with API content could already be hugely impactful! Support your local API businesses!

With so many people following you on TikTok, who are some of your favourite #APIFamily accounts to follow?

I love EMME NYC, Little Match Studio, and XXL Scrunchies!


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