Last week, Indiegraf announced the first recipients of our BIPOC Media Growth Program. Today, we’re getting to know one of them a little better. Natasha Jung is the founder, executive producer and editor-in-chief of Cold Tea Collective, a new media platform, sharing the real stories, perspectives, and experiences of North American Asian millennials. She spoke to Rachel Chen about her plans for Cold Tea Collective and working with Indiegraf.
Rachel Chen: We’re at an interesting time where we’re kind of re-examining what it means to be Asian American or Canadian. What role do you see Cold Tea Collective having in that?
Natasha Jung: At Cold Tea Collective we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing for about five years now. I think a lot of what we were talking about in our content over the last few years has been very focused on Asian American, Asian Canadian identity. But now, we’re very deliberately fighting against hate.
Our approach has always been not to sensationalize or traumatize our community or audience by only reporting negative news. We want to continue to uplift and amplify the voices of Asian diaspora through our content. We want to be able to provide content that is critical, but also provide solutions for people. We want to be able to provide a platform for people to take control of their own narrative.
RC: What kind of growth do you want to see Cold Tea Collective have?
NJ: To better understand our audience and give them the content or the news products that they want in a meaningful way is what I’m really looking forward to in terms of our growth. I also want us to be able to be financially sustainable.
We are working with volunteers, who are working with us out of the kindness of their hearts, or have this burning fire within them to tell their stories.
I want to be able to make it sustainable to be an Asian creative. I want it to be sustainable for us to be a platform, a place where our audience can find stories that resonate with their experiences and will help them learn about other folks’ experiences as well.
RC: Why did Cold Tea Collective decide to work with Indiegraf?
NJ: We had been approached previously to consider other options for growth, such as joining a collective of other publishers where we would have had to have been acquired. I was not personally ready to give up ownership of Cold Tea Collective, especially at a very exciting time for our publication. Taking a look at Indiegraf’s options and seeing the great work that Indiegraf has done with other publishers, we thought it would be a great opportunity to work with you, especially as part of the BIPOC publishers program.
RC: Why was it so important to you to remain independent?
NJ: I just feel like we haven’t reached our full potential yet in terms of what we’re going to be able to do as a publication. In order to be able to grow and fulfill that vision, I wanted to ensure that I didn’t have to submit to the interests of a controlling group that didn’t necessarily have our best interests at heart, or our community’s best interests at heart. The space that we’re in right now, especially for BIPOC independent media publishers is very, very new in that sense. There’s a lot more opportunities that I feel that we can tap into, to grow and to serve our audience.
RC: What do you see as the next steps for Cold Tea Collective?
NJ: I want to elevate the stories that we tell by telling them in different formats. I’m trying to coach some of our other team members to do more podcast content, more video content, to work on some really cool partnerships. From a business-side standpoint, I want to be able to operationalize our processes and the work that we do so that we aren’t just a volunteer-driven organization. We want to be financially sustainable, and, hopefully, give back more to the community as well.
RC: When you say give back to the community, what does that look like for you?
NJ: I would like us to be a meaningful and helpful source for Asian Americans and Asian Canadians to feel more connected to each other and our stories.
Ultimately, it’s the sense of community and knowing that they are not alone. As unique and different and nuanced and intersectional all of our experiences can be, there are some underlying things that do connect us all. I want people to be able to find that in our content.