Everything in Emily Chow’s life comes back to her love for her family: her career as a nurse, her side hustle as an influencer (@theemfiles), her ability to stay humble as the daughter of immigrants. As Emily has grown up, she’s always kept one eye on her family’s humble roots while working to leave her own mark on the world.
Family is also how Emily was introduced to ORIGINAL Foundation when she was just a young girl, and she’s been a fan ever since. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of ORIGINAL Foundation, we flew Emily all the way from Oregon to New York City, where she took part in our #IAmAnOriginal campaign. We spoke with the nurse/micro influencer to learn all the ways her family has inspired her to be the confident, driven person she is today — and how they have helped support her during the COVID-19 pandemic as she works on the frontlines.
So, your family inspired you to be a nurse?
My sister is a nurse as well. I remember her always coming home and telling me about the things that she would do and the impact she was making in people’s lives. And I said to myself, “I want to do something like that. I want to make somebody else be able to be more comfortable.”
In addition to nursing, you’ve also become a beauty influencer. How did this come about?
I’ve always been very passionate about beauty and skincare. For me, it just transitioned from a small thing — just talking to my sisters, my mom and my friends — to something a little bit bigger. Now I’ve met people from all over the world who share a similar interest.
How do you maintain your healthy glow after working overnight shifts at the hospital?
Clean beauty products do make a huge difference. I’m a huge believer in starting from the skin and then adding whatever you need on top of that. I feel like if you have great skin, you don’t need to add too much. Maybe a little bit mascara, a little bit blush and a lip and you’re good to go.
When was the first time you wore ORIGINAL Foundation?
I was about eight years old, if not even younger. My mom bought the kit for the ORIGINAL Foundation. I have two older sisters who were in dance at the time, and my mom always did their hair and makeup. I would just watch them like, “Oh my gosh, I want that.” So then for my piano recitals, my mom did my makeup. I just remember feeling so beautiful. I was really shy growing up and when I was walking up on the stage for my piano recital I felt so pretty. I felt so confident.
You’re not shy at all now…
I would say getting into beauty has been a really big part of that — I feel like beauty products can make you shine from the inside out. When I was younger, it was a way to transform my persona. But now that I’m older, I feel like I’ve gained a certain level of maturity. And I don’t feel like I have to use that to hide. It just enhances who I am.
What is your favorite beauty advice?
Never leave home without blush. Blush is a game changer to me. I’m all about adding blush across your nose. I didn’t think it would make a huge difference, but now I do it all the time. [Living] in the Pacific Northwest, we don’t get a lot of sun, so I’m always looking to fake a glow.
Who has been a force of good in your life and why?
I’m surrounded by a bunch of amazing female role models: my mom being one, my grandma being another, and my two sisters. They’re all women who have done something amazing. One of my sisters is a nurse and the other one’s a physician. My mom and grandma both immigrated here from Hong Kong and I would hear stories about how they had nothing. It’s something I try to carry with me to always stay humble. It’s just really, really inspiring and [their story] is something that I hope to pass on to my kids.
Your family must be so proud of you…
At the dinner table, our parents [will talk] about what it was like for them growing up. They lived in a one-bedroom apartment, and it would be like, five people crammed into that one space. But then to see [my siblings and I] doing all of these things, my mom always says, “I never thought in a million years this would ever happen.” It’s a great reminder to me, because they have done so much for us.
How do they feel about you and your sisters being on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic?
In the beginning, it was difficult for our parents. [We’ve been] talking to them and understand the anxiety that they have. But it’s also something special. We all went into this line of work wanting to help others. So during this pandemic, it really allows us to be doing something special and to be serving our community in its most vulnerable state.
What has work been like this past month?
There’s definitely a lot of uncertainty. There are constant updates day-to-day — hour-to-hour even. I feel like now that we have a foundation of things, it’s just a little bit better. Coming into work, I know what to expect a little bit more.
How have you been spreading positivity while you’re at work?
I just want to be there for my team. Even though I know people are anxious and can feel overwhelmed, I still want to make sure they’re coming into work and we’re all taking care of each other. I have my family at home, but this is also my work family, and they mean just as much to me. In between the patient care, [we’re] having a laugh when we can — even if it’s watching silly TikTok videos of everybody gowned up in their [personal protective equipment], doing dances. It gives us a moment where we can breathe and have a little laugh.
How do you prevent yourself from feeling burnt out?
Self-care. Yes, [we] come to work. We’re here to work and do our jobs. But at the same time, [it’s important] to find moments where we can breathe for ourselves — especially when we go home. For me, I’ve especially picked up nail art. I think a lot of people think that self-care is selfish, and that is definitely not the case.
What is the first thing that you’re going to do to celebrate when this is all over?
Family dinner. Honestly, the hardest thing is just getting all of us together. I have siblings who are in different states. My sister’s getting married this summer, too. That’s the plan at least. So we’re hoping that when everything is said and done, everybody just can come home and have a good family dinner with our extended family.