Entrepreneur Aya Sumika
Aya Sumika, best known for her role as FBI agent Liz Warner in the CBS television show Numb3rs, is now the President and Owner of MIDORI, a global lifestyle collaborative that inspires, enchants and immerses Ribbonistas in MIDORI’s vibrant world of creativity.
Aya is responsible for modernizing MIDORI and expanding the company into a continuously-evolving luxury lifestyle brand. This summer, MIDORI will be launching Canvas Bags - Aya's latest adventure and MIDORI's first foray into the luxury accessories market.
Aya’s generation of MIDORI exemplifies her vision to bring forth a style revolution defined by ingenuity, imagination and individuality.
Aya’s mission to celebrate diversity and inspire creativity is reflected in every MIDORI ribbon, print and gift wrap.
ASIANCE: What Asian/Japanese family customs did you have growing up or that your mom incorporated into your life?
Aya: I always had to take my shoes off before entering a home. FOOD – my mom is an amazing cook! We ate Mochi, rice with breakfast, nori, chicken katsu, homemade gyoza, and soba noodles. I was raised with the language and loved the Bon Odori festival.
ASIANCE: Did you follow or feel the need to follow any Asian American women in pop culture, art, dance, acting worlds?
Aya: For me personally, it wasn't always just about following or watching Asian American women only. I’ve always admired all women of color who are different and have a strong sense of self.
ASIANCE: How did you know you wanted to attend Juilliard? How long did you study ballet?
Aya: To be honest, I didn't even know what Juilliard was! I even remember my college counselor saying I wouldn't get in. I was looking to continue to dance, and Juilliard didn't require SAT scores (mine weren’t great), so I thought it seemed like a good fit!
ASIANCE: How do you stay in such great shape?
Aya: Pilates. I have been studying with Darien Gold for years now. She is the cream of the crop and really helped me transition from being a full-time dancer into appreciating the practice of pilates. Pilates has allowed me to continue to feel strong and connected to my body. I also love to hike with my family and our little pit, Indigo!
ASIANCE: What is your skin regime? You have such beautiful skin!
Aya: How nice of you to say! If you only knew how tortured I was about my skin – I’ve gotten better about it over time! I have simplified my regimen in recent years, allowing the balance of my skin to naturally do what it needs to in order to stay healthy. I stick to the simple basics: wash, tone and moisturize. My only secret is using Neosporin cream on any blemishes. That's it!
ASIANCE: How long have you been married? How did you meet your husband? How are you able to juggle your business and family?
Aya: My husband, Trevor, and I are high school sweethearts! We met when I was 15 and haven’t parted since. We got married in 2007, and had our first little girl a year ago! We always make the time to connect as a family on the weekends. We go on at least one adventure a week – whether it be a hike, going to the beach or the zoo, the weekends are our getaways to escape the thoughts of business, and the never-ending to-do list. We believe in quality not quantity as a family, making sure that we are fully present with each other when we plan time.
ASIANCE: I loved your apartment in Apartment Therapy. How often do you update it or redecorate it?
Aya: Thank you! I wish I could say that we re-decorate with every season, but we just did one big interior design makeover when we bought our place in 2007. It was a really fun project for me, and seeing it all come to life was exciting. I love all things beautiful – creativity is a big part of my life. With that being said, when we move, I’ll bring a new flavor to the interior design of our home. A lot changes in 6 years.
ASIANCE: How did you learn to have such a creative design aesthetic?
Aya: My mom understands quality inside and out. Growing up around her aesthetic has made a big impact on me, along with traveling and being exposed to different cultures at a young age. Other than that, it's a bit of a mystery where my love and passion for all things beautiful comes from! Whether it be fashion, home, hair or makeup, I have a strong point of view and particular sense of taste. I have a very observant side, which allows me to always know what I want and what I like.
ASIANCE: What do you think is the most important piece of furniture?
Aya: Your bed and the dining room table.
ASIANCE: What is your favorite room to design?
Aya: My favorites are the kitchen and master bedroom – I had a lot of fun designing them!
ASIANCE: Tell us about your business and what you are expanding into?
Aya: Currently we are a luxury ribbon and gift wrap company with a strong mission to inspire creativity. Our customers are people who understand the importance of details and quality. This summer, we are taking our first step into lifestyle and fashion with a collection of hand-designed canvas bags called Imaginary Lines. We’re so excited about this new venture!
ASIANCE: What is the hardest part in running your business and achieving sales?
Aya: Managing people. People are unpredictable, just like life.
To achieve sales, like with all other parts of business, you need to be flexible. Analysis and strategy is key, but at the end of the day if the ROI is not there in the numbers, you need to try something new again and again and again…
ASIANCE: Would you change anything about your life?
Aya: There are many things in my life that I can control and change, and many that are out of my control. With that said, what is in my power to change, I work on and face every day. I seek out the moments where I find the courage within to change the things I can.
ASIANCE: What did you like the most about acting on Numb3rs? What did you like the least?
Aya: I loved connecting and collaborating with others, and didn’t love not having control or power over the final product. I’m more true to myself when I own and/or create what I am a part of.
ASIANCE: Do you have any plans to get back into acting? When can we see you again?
Aya: Absolutely! I have a sneaky suspicion the next time you see me on screen, it will be in a film produced, written and directed by my husband and I.
ASIANCE: Can you see the Asian at all in your Hapa baby yet?
Aya: Yes! People are so drawn to her eyes. She has beautiful blue almond-shaped eyes!
For more information, please visit www.midoriribbon.com.