One of the cheapest, most powerful yet scarcest resources we have in our society today is plain and simple kindness. It can help us understand and accept one another, give us the strength to overcome our greatest hardships, and an important antidote to our country’s racism epidemic.
It may sound simple and idealistic, but for entrepreneur Mike Kim, it’s an undeniable life saver and a business with his venture Some Neat Place.
Today, Some Neat Place is a platform for sharing life-saving stories of kindness with a genuine mission to make the world a better place with its existence, but it was born from Mike’s own journey of gut-wrenching heartbreak and loss.
Mike is the son of Korean immigrants who toiled to achieve the American dream. His childhood in Austin, Texas was shaped by hardship, bullying, racism, and the identity crisis that many Asian Americans share.
In college, he began hanging around gangs until one fateful night when he and his friends were jumped and beaten to a pulp by one. In the hospital, Mike was visited by his then-girlfriend who realized he had lied to her about where he was earlier that night, but instead of anger over his lying, she just cried seeing his swollen face and simply asked if he was okay. This was Mike’s wake up call to be a better person.
By his thirties, Mike was seemingly living the dream – proud of his marriage and pursuing the startup life and success – until he caught his wife cheating with someone he knew. The betrayal caused his life to spiral, he stopped going to work, started drinking and began to have suicidal thoughts.
He got his life back together with the help of therapy and for the next couple of years worked to get his life back together and pursue success once more.
Then, at the end of 2018, his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Two weeks later, his sister-in-law learned her breast cancer returned. The following January, a dear friend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and passed away weeks later. Two months after that, Mike’s grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer and she died a week later. In April, doctors diagnosed his mother with stage four colon cancer. At the end of 2019, another friend died of brain cancer.
And it was then that the COVID pandemic struck, followed closely by the wave of anti-Asian hate. Mike experienced being called racial slurs on the street. His then-loving relationship came to an end. Now by himself, he had to walk away from a COO role to support his family which came with a massive personal financial loss.
Then, by July 2020, as his father was losing his battle with cancer, Mike gathered his family to say one last goodbye. One night, after hearing a noise, he found his father’s door locked and he wasn’t responding to Mike’s calls. After unlocking the door, Mike found his father soaked in blood after he slit his wrists and neck. Doctors were able to save him and he survived two more weeks until he passed, and in those two weeks, Mike and his family found their closure from a childhood of abuse, alcoholism and poverty – his father apologized, for the first time ever, before the cancer took his life.
That day, Mike grasped the incredible power of compassion and realized a renewed mission for Some Neat Place – to connect all people by spreading incredible stories of compassion and rediscovering what is most valuable within our short lives.
“I believe in the ‘golden rule’ and it’s incredible when you show up without hesitation on being kind to others – it’s infectious.”
Mike is a firm believer that performing one simple act of kindness each day can change a life and make the world a better place, one person at a time. “Our mission is to make people feel better every day, have fun while we are doing it, and do bespoke projects that dent the world with kindness through the creative lens,” he says. “When we were kids, we dreamed far and wide and were curiously kind about one another, without the labels, biases, and judgments caused by fear, ego. Let’s be kids again, and instead of the hate, through kindness, we’ll continue to show what a wonderful world we live in.”
This drive to spread kindness through all mediums of art and combat the anti-Asian racism seen during the pandemic is the soul behind Some Neat Place’s recent collaboration with rising artist NICO, Metanoia Records, Panda Squad Clothing and NextShark.
Telling individual stories of our community’s struggle, including NICO’s own experience, is the inspiration behind the “Made in the East” collection, the proceeds of which will be going to raising awareness on anti-Asian hate (NextShark may receive a portion of the proceeds donated from t-shirt sales).
The Made in the East collection is produced in the UK, made of 100% cotton, and uses powerful imagery with the goal of not trying to tell people what to think, but simply asking them to think.
Help support the spread of awareness and kindness by grabbing your own limited-edition Made in the East t-shirt.
“If my SNP team didn’t make the intro (love you Brittney + Mia), this video never would have happened. If my ride or die, Carissa, never came on board to partner up with SNP as our COO, we wouldn’t be where we are today, and you deserve everything coming to you (thank you, dear friend). I want the world to know that you deserve kindness that loves unconditionally even on your worst days. People are struggling, and we’ll show the world how kindness is the cure,” Mike says.
As the Asian community continues to come together to heal in the wake of the pandemic, Mike and Some Neat Place’s important mission continues:
“I have bad days where I think about my father’s suicide attempt and ultimately his passing. Some days, it’s like a roller coaster of emotions where I’m happy and the next, sad. However, all I have to do is be there for someone or hear about a story of kindness, and I immediately start feeling inspired to get better. Through all of my trauma, I know this works because I was in that dark space before, thinking the world would be better without me. Not anymore, I have a purpose. I’ll die trying to make this world a bit more kind before I leave it.”
This post was made by NextShark with Some Neat Place