Our Beauty Spotlight Blog Series is back after a brief hiatus, and for those of you who are just joining us for the first time, welcome! Every month or so, we interview a woman who inspires us, from TV and Film director Kimmy Gatewood (you’ve seen her work on little shows like Sesame Street and The Babysitters Club!), to New York Times Bestselling Author Jasmine Guillory, to Courtney Henggeler to US Open winner Sloane Stephens! (Our blog writer, Emily Barth Isler, has been spotlighted, too, and you can learn all about her here!) This time, we’re thrilled to profile someone who is just getting started, but who has already made a tremendous impact in promoting the joy of literacy and the power of community building-- two things we value so much here at Maya Chia! Read on to meet teenage bookstore owner Annabelle Chang!
Like many of us, I tend to look to my elders for wisdom-- assuming that those who have “been there and done that” might have the insights or advice I’m seeking, even when I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for. But every so often, I am reminded that those who are chronologically younger than we are can have just as much to teach us-- and sometimes, much more!
Annabelle Chang is one such person. At the tender age of sixteen, Annabelle opened a bookstore, Annabelle’s Book Club LA in Studio City, California. The now-high school senior continues to oversee day-to-day operations, run the store’s popular talks with authors (she recently hosted and interviewed Judy Blume!), curate the collection of books and merch, and partner with worthy causes to give back to the community.
To say that Annabelle is impressive would be overly simplistic, because what truly makes Annabelle outstanding is that, alongside all her success, she manages to exude a true passion for books and stories and storytellers. Somehow, the access to authors and their books hasn’t dimmed Annabelle’s excitement at all, nor has the responsibility of running a small business. The pure joy she gets from being a bookstore owner is evident when talking to her, and her love of reading persists, even though she has “gone pro,” so to speak.
And Annabelle uses her great power with all the responsibility and empathy we could hope for. She recently collaborated with TV actress and fellow literary tastemaker Raegan Revord and Revord’s book club, Read with Raegan, to support The Book Truck, a nonprofit that provides literacy services to underserved teens throughout Los Angeles. For every book purchased at the store during the event, one book was donated to The Book Truck.
We were excited to hear that Annabelle was loving the Maya Chia products we sent her way recently, and even more thrilled to read her answers to our Beauty Spotlight questions. We especially love to shine the light on people who are using their own spotlight to make the world a better place. Read on to find out about Annabelle’s travel dreams, her appreciation for art and music, and the super easy swap she’s made to live a more sustainable life.
Maya Chia Beauty: What is one thing you do every day?
Annabelle Chang: Every night, I sit down at my desk with my journal and write about my day. I initially began journaling because of a homework assignment in sixth grade, and I’ve been doing it ever since! I love that all of my journals represent different stages of my life. It’s especially fun and meaningful to reflect on special moments that I’ve shared with friends and family over the years.
MCB: Where would you go if you could travel somewhere right now, all expenses paid?
AC: Japan! I’m dying to see the cherry blossoms and explore the country’s incredible bookstores. My family and I are also big art lovers, so I’m hoping to also visit Naoshima Island, which is known as Japan’s “Art Island.”
MCB: If your 10-year-old self could see your life now, what would surprise her the most about it?
AC: Probably that I own and run a bookstore! I’ve been passionate about storytelling since I was little, and opening Annabelle’s Book Club LA has been a dream come true.
MCB: Who is the person you wish you could talk to more?
AC: My great-aunt, Mike, who is still as young and vivacious as ever, at 96 years old. She has led such a fascinating life, and she inspires me endlessly. I always love hearing her stories about her countless travels and adventures as a documentary filmmaker. She and I also share an appreciation for Freddie Mercury, and we always share new music with each other.
MCB: What are your favorite Maya Chia products - and why? : )
AC: There are so many amazing Maya Chia products, but my favorite is the Waterless Wonder Balm! I love its Orange Blossom scent.
MCB: What is the biggest challenge you face now or have faced in the past? How did you overcome it?
AC: As a high school senior, it can be challenging to balance the day-to-day needs of the store with attending class and completing my schoolwork. Fortunately, the school I go to, Laurel Springs, is an online school that allows me the flexibility to be at the store during the week while also taking the rigorous classes I am interested in.
MCB: What do you wish you knew/learned sooner?
AC: I wish I knew earlier that people take many different paths to achieve their goals. When I transferred from a traditional high school to an online school to pursue my dream of opening a bookstore, I felt nervous that people might judge me. As it turns out, this has been the best form of education for me, and everyone has been incredibly supportive.
MCB: What is one easy thing you do to be more "green" or eco-conscious?
AC: I try to keep a refillable thermos with me at all times! I always try my best not to purchase or drink from plastic water bottles.
MCB: What's the best advice you've ever received - and think other people might benefit from hearing?
AC: Always believe in your vision, and never be afraid to ask questions.
MCB: What is something you're really proud of?
AC: I’m particularly proud of being a devoted big sister. My 13-year-old sister, Ames, is my role model and the most fearless person I know. Whether it is a volleyball game, a school dance recital, or a taste-testing of her latest baking creation, I always love supporting and celebrating all of her amazing accomplishments.
Thank you, Annabelle!!
I know Judy Blume said it first and said it better, but Annabelle truly gives me hope for the future. With people like her in charge, the next generation is going to be just fine. (And also incredibly well-decorated! Check out pictures of Annabelle’s Book Club LA to see the gorgeous colors, textures, and design Annabelle curated to decorate the store!) We highly recommend following Annabelle’s Book Club LA on Instagram for her book recommendations, interviews, and, of course, for more pictures of the store!