KATERINA JENG & KRYSTIE YEN
(Founders of Slant'd)
Katerina Jeng and Krystie Yen met for dumplings in 2017. Shortly after, Slant'd magazine was born.
Slant'd celebrates the Asian American identity through personal storytelling in their annual magazine and nationwide events, creating welcoming spaces that encourage self-discovery and spark conversations that foster cultural empathy and pride. As a collective built from the ground up by Asian Americans, for Asian Americans, Slant'd shares authentic narratives that can ignite powerful change for future generations.
We're excited to go on the scene with founders Katerina and Krystie, who are passionate about empowering the arts and the Asian American community.
What inspired you to start Slant’d?
KY: Having grown up in California in the iconic 626 (home of the famous xlb powerhouse Ding Tai Feng), I was surrounded by Asian culture—so much so that I ended up taking my Asian American identity for granted for most of my life. It took moving to New York to spark a deep questioning of my views on race in America. After realizing that a lot of my Asian American friends were also going through this second coming of age, I decided to create a private Facebook group to help us navigate these messy waters. It turns out that what we really wanted—and ended up doing—was to build the community that we wish we had when we were growing up.
KJ: I grew up in a predominantly white, suburban neighborhood of Long Island, New York, and was never proud to be Asian American—as a kid, I just wanted to fit in with the people around me. Once I graduated college, I started exploring this colossal part of my identity that I had left untouched, and realized that being Asian American is empowering, beautiful, and quite an unprecedented position to be in. Joining the Facebook group that Krystie started was the spark that led to Slant’d. This group was a safe space for Asian Americans to have conversations about our families, our identities, and the things that happen to us in our everyday lives—stories that needed to be documented and surfaced to the outside world.
How did you two meet and what it’s like working together?
KJ: We were introduced by a mutual friend, and had a magnetic first conversation at Breads Bakery in NYC over chocolate nutella babka. It’s wild to think that we only met once before starting Slant’d, but I like to think of it as fate bringing us together to start something that this world so desperately needs. Me and Krystie working together is like yin and yang—our skills are complementary, and when we’re together it’s magic.
KY: We recently adopted the mantra that the universe is conspiring for our success—and us meeting is a perfect example of that. Building a friendship alongside a business partnership is tough. It takes a lot of patience, openness, respect—and for us, a love of personality tests! On top of that, we’re long distance co-founders, which most folks are blown away by, but that’s just a testament to our chemistry and strength, both as friends and partners.
Tell us about the process for putting an issue together.
KY: Slant’d started as a rebellion against mainstream media, and in true rebel fashion, we flipped the editorial process on its head—from crowdsourcing ideas as opposed to fully formed stories, to hosting video workshops with contributors, to pairing artists and writers together. It’s a process that’s highly co-creative and uniquely ours. The magazine is a labor of love; each issue takes 6 months, and the number of existential conversations that surface along the way is incredible. For most of our contributors, this is their first time sharing their stories; it takes a lot of courage and introspection to take these stories to the finish line. As editors, our biggest privilege is witnessing self-actualization on and off the pages. We’re three issues in and I still get teary every time the finished product shows up for proofing.
What has been one of the most memorable stories shared on Slant’d so far?
KJ: One story from Issue 02 that keeps cropping up for me is Nicole Zhu’s piece, “The Discomfort of Comfort Food.” She writes about the struggle and recovery of her relationship with food—Chinese food in particular, as it serves as a strong cultural tie to her Asianness and is a love language for many Asian families. Nicole recently revamped the piece and published it on Eater!
How would you describe your style?
KJ: My style is easy and cozy, with a touch of sass. I’d style the Carina Sangria frames with a red lip, high-waisted jeans, and a loose-fitting vintage tee.
KY: I have a predominantly black (read: New York) color palette, but I like to keep things spicy with fun prints, textures, and materials. I’d style the Vega Coconut frames with a red lip, a top with dramatic sleeves, high waisted leather shorts, tights, and booties.
We created Elevated Fit® so that we could smile with confidence and feel comfortable in our own skin. What does confidence mean to you?
KJ: Confidence means being unapologetically you—being loud and proud about your flaws, your weirdness, and all the imperfect bits that make you perfectly you.
KY: Literally what Katerina said! To me, confidence is a mindset. It’s daring to be your fullest self in every context of your life—and having fun with it!
Anything you learned recently that blew your mind away?
KJ: I recently went to a rap cypher in Los Angeles, where I met a bunch of badass ladies who rap and freestyle. I learned a crucial tip for freestyling: don’t rhyme for rhyme’s sake—focus on cadence and content, and the flow will follow.
KY: Did you know that a succulent is a plant that gets its nourishment and water from the inside? It literally replenishes itself! That fun fact stuck with me because I picked it up while reading The Bodacious Book of Succulence, which is all about living a full, bold, creative life that makes you feel alive.
Favorite Asian dish? Dan dan noodles!
Song of the moment? Bloom by Raveena
Frames I’m obsessed with? I have my eye on the Kuma frames!
Best advice I received? Always come to the table with something in hand (whether it be a proposed solution, an idea, or food, for a non-work situation!).
Emoji that best describes me? a sorceress—who is also old, and probably my spirit-age
Favorite Asian dish? Does boba count? If not, then Taiwanese three cup chicken with all the basil!
Song of the moment? Blank Marquee by Yuna and G-Easy
Frames I’m obsessed with? I still love my Maia frames in black. They were my first pair of COVRY sunnies and I’m still as obsessed with them as I was back when they first arrived on my doorstep 2 years ago!
Best advice I received? Be kind to everyone you meet; you never know what battles they might be fighting.
Emoji that best describes me? because I’m spicy—and a lot sillier than I seem