I initially contacted the girls at MeiMeiWaWa, Taiwanese singer-songwriter Lara Veronin and CEO sister Esther Veronin for an interview regarding a university assignment. Unlike other Taiwanese entertainment companies, all it took was one Facebook message for them to sweetly agree to the interview, a move reflecting upon the unique, free-flowing culture of their independent multimedia label. Adorning administrative replies with love hearts and emoticons, yet giving unabashedly honest and insightful answers on everything from the industry’s wellbeing to the focus of their label, their unique lighthearted and feminine approach to the pressing issue of bridging Eastern-Western gaps and the acknowledgement of third culture kids is certainly one lesser seen within Taiwan’s media industries.
So what exactly is MeiMeiWaWa Multimedia, you might ask? Established in 2013 by sisters Lara and Esther Veronin, it’s an independent company that does almost everything, from providing you with your daily dose of Facebook entertainment (my favourite is #mondayfunday) to producing short films, music videos, live performances, and of course music. All that’s left is for them to release their own game and they’ll have pretty much rounded out the mix (I suggest a Kim Kardashian-style app). But interlaced throughout all their various projects is a unique brand personality, which Lara describes as “cosmopolitan, feminine, & artistic on the outside and creative, evocative, & interactive on the inside”.
Straightforwardly speaking, “the aim of MeiMeiWaWa Multimedia is to create content that is able to be on par with other international markets—and to showcase and guide how to live a luxurious, independent and creative lifestyle to the Taiwanese people”, says CEO Esther.
And that they do. Embracing their mixed heritage (the Veronin sisters are Taiwanese-American and as Lara asserts, “you can’t really ‘fake’ a close sister bond or being a third culture kid”) and their ability to understand both Eastern and Western worlds, the sisters work wholeheartedly towards aligning themselves to an international standard of quality entertainment, providing a bilingual experience that helps them stand out from the crowd.
“Our nature has always been to “bridge the gap”. Because of our unique social circle and language abilities, we are able to bring together people that might never work together and create truly unique projects. We are able to communicate the heritage and/or trends of Western media to the East, and vice versa; a matchmaker of sorts whose goal is to seamlessly blend the best of both worlds” states Lara.
Their ongoing mini series TAWKI-Taipei as we know it and Made in Taiwan are two such works of theirs which showcase an eclectic mishmash of characters that forge a bond between Eastern and Western cultures.
According to Esther, this effectively allows MeiMeiWaWa to overcome a barrier that many other Taiwanese media companies face:
“I think our international/global perspective and bilingualism definitely stands out among most Taiwanese entertainment companies here. Despite the fact that Taiwan has made many large advancements in the last 2 decades, it’s still rather Mandarin-centric in terms of ideas and language.”
On top of this, the sisters further set themselves apart from other independent multimedia types in the Taiwanese industry by encouraging female entrepreneurialism; something which Esther describes as “novel” in such a market. Setting the trend by being their own bosses and proudly taking ownership of their female identities with content on fashion, makeup and other issues relevant to females, the girls certainly have a brand concept which is unique and hard to replicate.
When asked about MeiMeiWaWa’s contribution to Taiwan’s creative industry, Esther had just four words describing their novel framework: “organic, authentic, innovative, and limitless”. Since I’m not as smart as Esther, my concluding words are less succinct, but nevertheless clear. Since the start of their entrepreneurial journey, Esther and Lara have moved from height to height in terms of their creative concepts and ideas, and have done one thing that I perceive as extremely hard in an competitive industry such as Taiwan’s-never losing sight of their initial aim. Bilingualism and femininity is completely internalised into every aspect of their portfolio in a way that subtly, yet powerfully, changes the way the world thinks about culture gaps and female empowerment; leaving behind a trail of heart-shaped emoticons as they go.