It’s been over two weeks since missfits fest, and to be completely honest, our team still hasn’t fully processed everything that went down. Nina described reflecting on missfits fest as similar to the fable of the blind men and the elephant – our team can comprehend parts of the festival, but we haven’t been able to fathom the fullness of everything quite yet.
Even while we do the work of fully processing what missfits fest ended up accomplishing, our goals and intent for the festival remain abundantly clear. Regardless, we’re so proud of our team for accomplishing the goals that we set for ourselves.
We wanted to give visibility to female Asian-American entrepreneurs and creatives, provide them with an opportunity to display and profit from their work, and build community. Our ultimate goal was to encourage Asian-American women to take up space and celebrate ourselves, affirming the fact that we belong here – just as we are.
After over 400 combined hours of work, hundreds of emails, and a few alley-oops from the universe (shout out to the newly engaged couple that didn’t need their balloon arch anymore), we did the damn thing, and and over 300 people came out to the first ever missfits fest!
Beyond attendance, what was really meaningful for us was how highly engaged the audience was throughout the entire event. We jam-packed our programming into one day, and we’re grateful that multiple aspects of the festival resonated with so many people.
The day started off with our 4 panel topics:
FOB (fresh off the breakdown): mental health in the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community,
Memoirs of a Gaysian: sexuality and gender identity,
To all the Asians I haven’t seen in movies: media representation,
and How to tell your parents you’re not an engineer, doctor, or lawyer: pursuing a creative career.
Here are some of our favorite quotes from the panels:
After the panels, our craft and food vendor markets opened for business. Thanh Bui shared her poetry with us, followed by stand up comedy sets by Nikita Redkar, Denise O’Young, and Joy Lin.
Melody Chang, Thanh Bui (joined this time by Jennifer Phan and Huy Pham), and Susanna Lee took the stage for an hour of live music. Anupi Chandiramani kept the energy high with a Bollywood workshop and DJ set – which was one of our team’s favorite moment from the festival! DJ Jeska closed out the night with a dance party, and the team was able to take our event manager hats off and put our dancing shoes on (Literally. Kristina changed into sneakers).
When Nina, Kristina, and I were first mapping out the idea of a festival for Asian-American women, we had only a vague idea of what it would look like when it was fully realized. Even when we were setting up the venue the day before the event – with the benches, stage, and art installations by the incredibly talented Candy Kuo, Vy Ngo, and Teruko Nimura – our mental image for missfits was still incomplete. It wasn’t until all of you, the community, entered the space that we were able to see the vision, impact, and power of missfits fest.
As an organizing team, it genuinely felt like the community (including so many allies that came to support the cause) reflected the time, work, intention, and love that we put into this festival back to us. It felt like we created a positive feedback loop of belongingness, gratitude for each other, and inspiration to keep doing great work that moves us inch by inch closer to meaningful change.
We’re so floored by the response not only from our community but also from the city of Austin at large. Shoutout to our partners and sponsors: Austin’s Cultural Arts Division, Austin Creative Alliance, Native Hostel, The Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce, UT Austin’s MSTC program, and Austin Woman Magazine for believing in our mission and the importance of our work.
So what’s next for missfits? We’ve been getting this question a lot, and we have a lot of ideas about what “next” could look like... but we haven’t solidified anything quite yet. What we are sure of, though, is that the intent that guided us while organizing the festival will remain consistent as we continue this work.
As community builders, feedback on our programming heavily impacts our future projects! We’d love to hear about what really resonated with you and what you’re hoping to see for future events. Slide in our DMs on IG (@missfitsfest) or send our orgs an email (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com).
Until next time! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
P.S. Be on the lookout for missfits memos, our PDF breakdown of the event, and our recap video!
photos by Mary Murphy, Eileen Wu, Grace Hathaway