News – EPAMade


Now With These Palms ~ Poem by a young single mom September 06 2016


With these palms I held the phone that gave the news...
He was not to come back, he said he would only return to pack.  
He left a bruise on my heart, leaving me with my sadness and to deal with all the madness 
So with the sleeves of my sweater I wiped away my tears, that did not make me feel better.
Soon enough with these fingers I held a test that said positive, 
yet I could not allow myself to remain positive and optimistic.
I lost it, pushed to the point of going ballistic... 
Then I felt you grow inside my womb.
I quickly resented wanting to be 6 feet under laying in a tomb. 
I fell more in love everyday as i sensed your presence. 
You were a true little blessing, God sent me the greatest present. 
Now with these palms, now with these palms, 
I hold yours, they are so sweet, a divine treat.
And with the sleeves of my sweater
I wipe my eyes and I blink twice. 
I am so thankful that you are here, you have made me feel so much better. 
With these fingers I felt your fragile body 
There is no way I would allow anyone to hurt your body 
because you came from my body.
You are mine to love and to hold. 
I'll be the one to mold you.  


- Susan, a mom of 2

"Zab the traveling otter" EXPLAINED! May 30 2016


We're all about honoring the sacrificial and courageous love of mothers.  We picked sea otters as our mascot because they are local Cali animals and they embody 'mama love' so well :) 


Our mama otter has 2 pups: Zab & Lulu. 
(Trivia: The name 'Zab' came from our founders Allen & Ayaka's daughter: Eli-ZAB-eth. And 'Lulu' from their last name.) 

You can customize the otter pillows and take them on your daily adventures! 
.... we call them the "traveling otters" a.k.a. "Trotter"! 

Snap a photo of your otter in your favorite place and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #ZabtheTrotter #LulutheTrotter #EPAotter :) 
We love it when you share with us how you see the world, how you spend your day, what excites you, where you live and visit, etc.! Our team here in East Palo Alto enjoy seeing where the otters travel after they leave our studio. 

Happy travels! 

#EPAOtter GIVEAWAY! April 18 2016

Download "Zab the EPA Otter" coloring page HERE (or click on the image above).
Color it, cut it out, and take Zab with you wherever you go! 
Post your adventures on Instagram using hashtag #EPAotter for a chance to win one of our amazing prizes. 

3 winners will be selected on May 1 to receive "traveling otter" pillows that are customized to look like your coloring. (Grand prize winner gets a regular pillow, and 2nd & 3rd place get the smaller ornament version.)

Print outs can also be picked up from EPAShop in the "Kid's Corner": 900A Willow Road, Menlo Park CA 94025 

Looking forward to seeing your posts!

We are on CBS news! March 02 2016

EPAMade was featured on CBS This Morning on March 2, 2106! Thankful for Facebook and their support of small businesses like ours as we train and employ single-mothers in the East Palo Alto community!

Watch the video below. Shoutouts at 1:56 and 3:19!

It was an honor to chat with a ‪#‎mamapreneur‬ Sheryl. Thank you for spending your morning with us. Let hope rise in East Palo Alto, one solo mom at a time!

Team Christmas dinner by BrokenDishes December 14 2015


We were blessed by the women of BrokenDishes who transformed our shop into a fancy restaurant with beautiful table decor, dessert table, kids' craft table, and 3-course meals. WOW! 

Holidays are the busiest season for retail business. So this was a very precious treat for our team and our volunteers.  

BrokenDishesmission is to gather people from different walks of life through celebrations and beautiful meals, where each person can share their unique story, meet new friends and form tighter communities.
MERRY CHRISTMAS to your community from ours!

Grand opening of EPAShop! October 17 2015


We're beyond thrilled to announce that we finally have a building that can house all 3 of our micro-businesses: 

EPAShop - a boutique thrift store that provides clean, fashionable, and affordable items for the local community

EPAMade - handmade goods to honor mama love 

EPAShip - logistic warehousing service for small businesses 

This is a huge milestone for us, as we've been dreaming up this idea since 2013 and operating in the "pop up mode" over the past 2 years. EPAShop was a Saturday street sale with popcorns for kids. EPAMade was a group of nomad artisans screen-printing under the scorching sun and sewing in a borrowed space with supplies that we had to pack up at the end of every work day.

THANK YOU / GRACIAS to everyone who came to the Grand Opening!  
It was a lot of fun meeting new customers, neighbors, and friends to celebrate this special day together :)

                                           . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Well, it's important to mention that our shop was built by MANY hands. 
A few months ago when we first signed the lease, the space looked like this:

Then we had a build out day with an amazing group of friends, including big kids! 

 We wanted our shop to be bright, clean, and welcoming. So all the walls were painted in white.

A friend built us a POS counter that can accommodate customers on wheeled chairs. 

And we began to move in...
This was our first day working in the new space!  

We had artsy mamas come and decorate the windows... 

And a family of creatives built us the coolest work tables...

Friends from EPA built the changing room... 

A volunteer group made the studio more organized and functional... 


Another group built curtains...

We installed window decals that our friends printed for us... 


 Dreams DO come true. 
Our lives CAN change. 
LET HOPE RISE in all of us! 

The Shaky Moral Compass of Silicon Valley [article] May 17 2015

From NYTimes article The Shaky Moral Compass of Silicon Valley
"... thinking about how to give back, and solving intractable problems like homelessness, can be a lot more difficult than coming up with a good idea for a start-up. Especially a start-up that is 'making the world a better place.' "

We hope that EPAMade can be the 'leveled ground' in the Silicon Valley where both the rich and the poor can come together as peers to learn, work, grow, and have fun.  #letHopeRiseintheSiliconValley 

Heartbreaking article on EPA housing crisis May 13 2015

Heartbreaking reality of housing crisis on EPA residents... while Facebook opens their massive campus nearby.

"My Home" - music video about East Palo Alto April 27 2015

Music video "My Home" by H20 ft. Freddy Flopez.

EPAMade on Palo Alto Weekly // April 3 April 15 2015

Did you read about us on Palo Alto Online

More articles on housing crisis April 07 2015

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 8.49.09 AM
Here's a few more TechCrunch articles on housing crisis: 

"Eat Uni Save Kelp" Explained! April 07 2015

Some of you have asked us about the meaning behind our "Eat Uni Save Kelp" T-shirts

Here is a short article that explains the relationship among sea otters, sea urchins ("uni" in Japanese), and kelp... and why sea otters are so important!


Another article about how kelp can protect the health of oceans... and us! 

So, remember to be like the sea otters and eat sea urchins (uni) that destroy kelp forest.
Give it a try next time when you're at a sushi restaurant or a fancy restaurant that serves food with that gooey orange stuff. 

Renters Struggle to Keep Up in Menlo Park’s Belle Haven Neighborhood [article] March 31 2015

NPR news about Menlo Park's Belle Haven Neighborhood 

This is the neighborhood right next to East Palo Alto where many of our friends live... and are losing housing. 

It’s very hard. Children don’t have room to play, and one doesn’t have enough space either.

"People are seeing their neighbors leave. People are seeing investors buy up those properties in the hopes that a Facebook person will come and purchase them for a higher amount of money.

To build affordable housing on land that is so incredibly expensive on an economy that’s on fire here, it’s like a double whammy to actually create affordable housing."

Where I live is probably 10 miles from some of the most prosperous corporations in the world. And some of my neighbors will not necessarily make it through college.... My children and grandchildren will not be able to stay in this community.

"If we are going to have a healthy sustainable economy, we have to find a way to house our workers.

Garage rent for $1000/month [video] March 19 2015

For those of you who aren't familiar with the bay area housing crisis, this is what many of our artisans face as single moms.  And this is why we're passionate about job creation in THIS neighborhood for THESE precious women & their children. 

According to the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD), people who live in structures not meant for human habitation, such as storage sheds, unconverted garages, shacks, bus stations, etc are considered homeless.  There are more "hidden homeless" in our communities than we know.

Honestly, I always thought homeless people were panhandlers or people on the street that were hungry and cold and drug addicts and alcoholics — who didn’t want to do anything for themselves. I work and make decent money when I’m working. I think part of the reason why I became homeless is because finding work and daycare and transportation and everything just combined made it impossible for me to keep a roof over our head. 

Struggling Single Mom Of 2 Rents San Mateo Garage For $1,000 A Month 

Hotel 22 [video] February 05 2015

Click on the link above to view the 8 min doc and read the article on an overnight public bus in the Silicon Valley. 
When you hear the word "Silicon Valley," do you think about extreme wealth and latest innovations?  
People on the news?  Exciting stuff that's happening in the daylight? 
What about 7,500 homeless people who have been neglected by the recent tech boom? 
People who are unseen and unnoticed?  Painful stuff that's happening in the night time? 
We, as EPAMade team, wrestle with this tension as we're choosing to stand in the gap between the wealthy & the marginalized. 
Thanks for supporting us on our journey!

Custom t-shirt orders for local youth January 15 2015

There's something special about being able to do something positive for your own neighborhood.  It's been exciting to do CUSTOM ORDERS for the local organizations & schools in East Palo Alto.   

First order was for a basketball camp hosted by Jeremy Lin Foundation for the children in Bayshore Christian Ministries on September 13, 2014.  We screen printed on t-shirts that were provided by Adidas, who sponsors Jeremy Lin.  It was cool to see the Adidas logo printed on the sleeve in black ink, just like the designs we printed on the same t-shirt.  We're doing legit jobs over here!  


Second order was for BCM's robotics club competition on November 1, 2014.  We were impressed that these kids are learning how to build their own robots.  Good job, team Robot Spartans! 


Third order was for Eastside College Preparatory School Girls JV basketball team in January 2015.  They sent us a sketch of what they wanted on their team gear, and we turned it into vector images on a computer.  We tested various shades of maroon colors to see which one stands out the best on black sweatshirts.  Each sweatshirt was personalized with a number on the front and nickname on the back.  We had fun printing everyone's unique nicknames. :)  Have a great season, Lady Panthers! 


If you want us to print your gears, check out our CUSTOM ORDERS page for how to order! 

History of EPA & Silicon Valley [article] January 12 2015

Amazing write-up on East Palo Alto's history, but even more poignant is its reflection on our future!

East of Palo Alto’s Eden

South Bay Launch Party November 15 2014

Greetings! We hope everyone is enjoying November so far! We are excited to share with you all about our 2nd EPAMade Launch Party that took place at Highway Community Church in Mountain View. Our second time around in hosting this event was similar to our first in terms of agenda but was much more large-scale. We had multiple tables set up in the courtyard, each having a different theme that our guests could approach and interact with.  

There were tables representing the social enterprises that our founders Allen and Ayaka Lu had launched in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco: TLMade and TLWash. It was great to have one of the TL artisans come out and man the TLWash table for us! There were also tables for EPAMade products and the tools that we use to make our products. Lastly, there was a table for future micro-businesses that we're dreaming to launch in East Palo Alto: EPACare, EPARack, and EPABeauty! We invited our guests to write down ideas, prayers, and resources for any of these projects to come.

We were also catered by the delicious Mogo BBQ Food Truck, aka Korean food meets Mexican food - on wheels! They donated 10% of their sales from the night to EPAMade - thank you!! If you haven't tried them yet... you must. Everything on their menu is basically love on a plate.

After about an hour of mingling, Mogo-ing, and checking out the tables, we gathered inside for presentations by our founders Allen and Ayaka Lu, as well as EPAMade artisan and young mother Linda. With the room full of attentive ears, these three strong individuals shared about the journey of finding hope through their brokenness and God's grace, the cycle of generational poverty in East Palo Alto, how EPAMade opens doors for job creation and training job skills, and our over-arching goal of bringing hope and transforming the lives of marginalized families in this community.

With the holidays around the corner, we made this launch party a little more shopping-friendly.  Something new that we featured were three holiday gift baskets, each containing items curated by our artisans. We also had two tables covered with EPAMade products for sale - and may I say, they sold quite well! (Thank you, enthusiastic shoppers!) Among these items were two of our newest products: the "Let Hope Rise" screen-printed tote bags and our holiday soy candles hand-poured into sleek apothecary jars with gold lids, available in scents "Jingle" and "Snowflake." (Check out our online store soon...)

We are VERY THANKFUL and humbled by those who made very generous donations throughout the evening. And we also greatly appreciate those who purchased our products or ordered gift baskets. With your generosity, EPAMade will have the financial support to develop new products, make investments into the community, and launch other social enterprises. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Leviticus 25
"At the Jubilee it shall revert. 
You shall not wrong one another, but fear your God, for I am the Lord your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. 
And if your brother has become poor and his hand wavers [from poverty, sickness, or age and he is unable to support himself], then you shall uphold (strengthen, relieve) him, [treating him with the courtesy and consideration that you would] a stranger or a temporary resident with you, so that he may live [along] with you."

Finding a space in EPA October 19 2014

Housing prices are skyrocketing in the Silicon Valley.  Rich folks from overseas are buying properties in East Palo Alto for investment while the local residents are losing their homes that they can no longer afford.  
In the midst of all this, we started praying for a space, knowing that it would take a miracle to find something within our budget.

In August 2014, we met Ben & Kat who had just purchased a property in East Palo Alto and were looking for someone to rent the extra space.  We told them about EPAMade, and guess what Ben & Kat said?  "You guys can use the garage and another roofed area for a small rent fee if you are willing to clean and fix them."  Wow, what a generous offer!  We almost cried. 

On October 19, 2014 we cleaned up the space with the help of many kind friends who love East Palo Alto.  


It's still in progress, but we are now a step closer to seeing our dream come true! 


SF Launch Party October 18 2014

Tonight, we had our first EPAMade Launch Party in San Francisco, generously hosted by the boba guru Andrew Chau (co-founder of Boba Guys) and his wife Kelly. Prior to the event, we transformed the Chau household into a cozy venue to exhibit EPAMade: a button-making station on the counter, t-shirts and onesies on one wall, and products on display in the cubby shelves.

When the clock struck 8 o' clock, our guests started to trickle in, and we mingled and feasted on a variety of finger foods! Fresh oysters, classic bread and cheese, a selection of salami, and an unlikely yet savory combo of Korean kalbi and cheese... Basically heaven for the average foodie. See for yourself in the photos below!

On top of that, we had a bartender friend work his magic and mix drinks throughout the night. Once our guests were well-fed and our conversations died down, we settled into the living room to hear the testimonies of our founders Allen and Ayaka Lu and how their journey has led them to serving in East Palo Alto and establishing EPAMade. We also listened to a moving speech from Linda, one of our talented artisans and a young mother herself. We learned about the endless cycle that single parents feel trapped in, between the challenging job hunt but needing a steady income, or the responsibilities of having a job but needing reliable childcare during working hours. We quickly became aware of a problem that is real in our community and more complicated than we thought, but how the launch of EPAMade can be the first step in providing a solution to this issue. After the very heartwarming and eye-opening presentations, we continued on in our food fest with a round of sweet treats, including panna cotta prepared by Kelly and a blueberry chiffon cake donated by Whole Cakes.

Lastly, we were blessed by the several generous donations made at the end of the night. Praise the Lord!! Thank you to everyone who came out to support EPAMade and were thrilled by our products, celebrated this very exciting social enterprise with us, and contributed to bringing hope to EPA. We are so grateful for you all!

Mother's Day Pop Up [photos] April 29 2014

We're having a pop up shop at 2 locations on Mother's day. 
Come on by and shop to support the young mothers in EPA!

May 11 Sunday

Highway Palo Alto 
50 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto CA 94301

Vineyard Christian Fellowship of the Peninsula 
4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto CA 94303

History of EPA [video] April 26 2014

Dreams of a City: Creating East Palo Alto (vimeo)

Let hope rise in EPA March 24 2014

"At the Jubilee it shall revert. 

You shall not wrong one another, but fear your God, for I am the Lord your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. 

And if your brother has become poor and his hand wavers [from poverty, sickness, or age and he is unable to support himself], then you shall uphold (strengthen, relieve) him, [treating him with the courtesy and consideration that you would] a stranger or a temporary resident with you, so that he may live [along] with you."

- Leviticus 25