Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with #MyAsianAmericanVoice: Sandra Martinelli
Delicora celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander Month collaborating with AAPI founders and creators. Check out Sandra Martinelli's story highlighted in our #MyAsianAmericanVoice blog.
Occupation: Founder & Designer - Delicora Jewelry
My Story: In Vietnam, my grandfather was the principal of a Catholic school and my grandmother was an entrepreneur in local commerce. My family immigrated to America after the Vietnam War around 1978 leaving their possessions, properties, and overall wealth behind to restart from ground zero. I grew up in a multigenerational Vietnamese American household with my mother, 4 uncles, and grandparents. While times were tough for my mother raising my brother and me as a single parent before my stepfather came into the picture, we had an amazingly supportive tribe of a family that collectively raised us.
My experiences in and out of the household were completely different. Being Vietnamese in grade school had its challenges. From being made fun of for not understanding certain American customs/sayings to classmates making fun of (the delicious) food I brought for lunch or speaking to my grandparents on the phone in Vietnamese. There were certain moments in this environment that made me want to assimilate into the norm and made me embarrassed about my Vietnamese heritage. Luckily, this was just a phase. I had too much respect for my family to be embarrassed, and I would never deny my love of Vietnamese cuisine.
My family always made me feel supported and gave me the confidence to be myself and go for my aspirations. This made me proud to be a Nguyen. As every member of my family led by example, I couldn’t wait to follow in their footsteps. I couldn’t wait to work. Our family sponsor owned a sheet metal company, and that was my first Summer job (by choice!) at 12 years old. I remember being so excited to earn a little more than minimum wage at $5/hr. For 3 hours a day in the Summers, I would sweep and reorganize the warehouse Monday through Thursday and get to stamp envelopes in the office on Fridays. This experience led to me landing other Summer jobs throughout high school and landing an internship in College that ultimately led to a career in tech. As I started to explore my creative side, jewelry immediately came into the picture. As a lover of jewelry with a nickel allergy, I created Delicora. To this day, I share my business plans and consult with my uncles and parents about business decisions. Their love, support, and motivation are constant and continue to inspire me to push myself. My family shapes my Asian American experience. I feel grateful to have been born and raised in this family.
Favorite Asian Snack Brands: Dang Foods, Red Boat Fish Sauce, immi, Sanzo, wildwonder
Favorite Asian Fashion Brands: Chan Luu, JW Pei
Favorite Asian Beauty Brands: Tatcha, Patrick Ta
Favorite Delicora Made for Jade Piece: Chi Jade Threaders