Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month Feature: Nen-Nen of HiCocoMango

We’re in full swing celebrating some of the phenomenal Asian American & Pacific Islander Makers in our community this month! This week, we’re featuring Nen-Nen of HiCocoMango, who focuses on creating fun and colorful origami stars and paper cranes. Check out our interview with her below:

What is your medium, and how long have you been creating?

Since I was young, I have always folded paper cranes and lucky stars, to give away to friends and family.  In Asian culture, a thousand cranes or stars represent a special meaning of love and good luck.

Why do you create & what inspires you?

Coming to Utah in 2018, I noticed a lack of Asian representation in the craft makers’ scene. When COVID-19 hit, I picked up origami again, as a way to lift people’s spirits through my folded creations. Since then I have been getting requests and I have been folding stars nonstop.

You mentioned noticing a lack of Asian representation in the craft makers’ scene in SLC. Are there any other Asian artists, makers or creators in the Salt Lake scene that you’ve met since you started or become aware of that you want to give a shout out to?

Since starting out I have met a handful Utah based Asian artists. Most of the people I met have been nice and supportive. There are a few unique Asian artists whose arts and crafts I admire, like @lovexkikay (she creates the cutest crochet hats and crafts) and @maebradyartstudio (LDS artist specialized in temple shadow boxes). These women started around the same time as me and I love seeing their growth and creativity in their crafts. They deserve a shoutout and some recognition for their work!

What’s been one of your favorite parts about crafting and selling your origami?

My favorite part is actually being at markets and events. I get to talk about origami and spread awareness of what I’m doing. My creations are eyecatching and people think I sell candy, until they see me actually folding stars and start asking questions. I’m always grateful when someone stops at my table and engage in a conversation about papers, origami, or Asia in general. It makes me happy that someone is interested in my culture and take a bit of their time to learn more.

How is your work influenced by your identity?

Having lived in many Asian countries, I have been exposed to many different paper folding technique, which I am delighted to share with you. I take pride in each creation I make. My creations make a great gift and will put a smile on your face. My goal is to “Spread Happiness and Positivity, One Star at the Time.”

How can readers find and/or support your work?

I’m mostly active on Instagram @hicocomango
Other way to find my products are either at markets and events that I announce on Instagram, or order online:

Craft Lake City’s artist features highlighting national DEI Awareness Months will continue throughout the year on our social media channels (@craftlakecity) and here on our blog. Stay tuned to hear from other local creatives working to make Utah a more vibrant and accepting place to live, work and create!