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Paths to Prosperity: Bling Empire’s Kelly Mi Li shares advice on entrepreneurship and her plans for Lunar New Year

Entrepreneur and executive producer Kelly Mi Li shares her advice on entrepreneurship and her family’s Lunar New Year traditions.

This interview was originally conducted by Natasha Jung and has been condensed and edited for clarity and brevity. 

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Wealth is often measured by how much money you have — but how wealthy you are, depends entirely on your attitude and perspective. Kelly Mi Li, entrepreneur and executive producer of Bling Empire, defines wealth as “a lot of hard work, determination, and being able to work your way up in this country.”

It’s a sentiment that rings true for the serial entrepreneur who has many ongoing projects. Li currently supports projects that directly impact the AAPI community. 

Kelly Mi Li on creating her own immigrant success story

VIDEO: Kelly Mi Li on her personal finance tips and how her culture influences her relationship with money

Much of the multidisciplinary executive’s advice on entrepreneurship is shaped by the challenges of her upbringing.

Li and her family moved to the United States from China to find new opportunities at 10 years old. The pressure that immigrant children face is often bittersweet.

Her immigration experience resembled a reality that many immigrant children faced. She said, “when I was younger, I worked hard, really hard because I didn’t take the traditional role of becoming a doctor like everybody else in my family.”

On Bling Empire and beyond, Li has openly shared her mental health journey and the desire to be self-sufficient. Especially after her father left her family when he couldn’t make ends meet upon moving to America.

For Li, being raised by a single mother, and for those in a similar position, a single parent ultimately wants their children to have opportunities to achieve their dreams beyond what they could accomplish in their home country.

Now, Li is seeing the fruits of her labour. She is a successful entrepreneur in businesses in a range of industries. Some of those businesses include a film production company, talent management agency and consumer goods. As of late, Li is investing in women-run tech startups.

With her entrepreneurial experience, Li is also a co-founder of the Golden Voice Society. The organization has many projects on the go that support the Asian-American community. Some projects include an Asian hate crime tracker and “The Missing Grandma Project which locate elders with Alzheimer’s or dementia through a medical alert bracelet.

Li also partnered with a San Fransisco non-profit, Be Chinatown, to exchange and upgrade community members’ locks. This initiative ensures safety and lower crime rates. 

See also: How TikTok creators are helping NYC Chinatowns

Advice on entrepreneurship

Despite her professional success, the entrepreneur and philanthropist reinforces the importance of creating healthy relationships with money as a starting point. 

“Keep track of your finances, so you know how much money you have coming in, and don’t overspend,” Li shares as her top piece of advice on entrepreneurship. “There’s a way to make your investments work for you… use the money you earned from the investment to get something else. It’s all about residual income.”

VIDEO: Kelly Mi Li shares advice for AAPI entrepreneurs

It’s advice that comes with years of experience and understanding the tough realities of entrepreneurship. She emphasizes that cash doesn’t always flow in consistently. But, in a culture where financial stability is often engrained dur childhood, Li accepted this reality and made it her own.  

“I think we put so much importance on money,” she notes, “but it’s just a tool. It doesn’t buy you happiness.” So instead, she measures wealth based on happiness, friendship and love. 

Connecting with family

If you followed Kelly on Bling Empire, you’ll recall that she did not shy away from talking about mental health and relationships. 

In season three of the show, Li shares an emotional milestone in reconnecting with her mother. The pair’s reunion showed them expressing their love and appreciation for one another. 

With the Lunar New Year coming up, Li is looking forward to new beginnings and celebrating family. Particularly reconnecting with her mom as she navigates pregnancy and preparing for motherhood.

“I think this is going to be such a great experience to learn from her… and bond with her more.”

Spending time with loved ones is an integral part of celebrating the Lunar New Year. It’s a holiday that goes beyond an extravagant feast or the excitement of receiving red pockets. 

“I think the older we get, we just want to be closer to our parents… having our family is our core.”

See also: Paths to Prosperity: Philip Wang and Helen Wu-Wang reflect on wealth, family, and Lunar New Year traditions

Lunar New Year traditions

Every Lunar New Year, the Bling Empire Executive Producer spends the holiday making dumplings with her mom and grandma. However, the constraints of the pandemic resulted in online Zoom dumpling making sessions over the last few years. 

This upcoming Lunar New Year is an extra special one for Li — she’ll finally have the opportunity to make dumplings in person with her mom and grandma. “We’re all going to be in Los Angeles,” she shares, “so I’m really, really excited.”

As a soon-to-be mom, the tradition of receiving red envelopes will change slightly this year for the entrepreneur.  “I feel like this year because I’m pregnant,” Li laughs, “I might need to start giving.” 

Handing out red pockets to eager youngsters shouldn’t be an issue for Li, whose savvy investment skills and philanthropic spirit shine through in everything she does.

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