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How I Made It

Ever feel like you haven’t done enough with your life? Prepare to experience that feeling tenfold.

Marian Cheng is only 26 years old, and she’s already had a career in fashion and opened her own restaurant. Crazy, right?

She’s not a superhero, she’s just super motivated. We talked to Marian, owner of Mimi Cheng’s dumplings in NYC, about how she made her lifelong dream happen while the rest of us were trying to work up the motivation to go to the gym.


What made you leave your job in fashion to open your own restaurant?

My older sister Hannah and I had been kicking around this idea for more than three years and decided it was now or never. You can only talk about an idea for so long before it becomes just another forgotten dream.

Were there people telling you not to take that risk?

Yes, a lot of people — including our parents and uncle — who used to own a successful restaurant. When our parents realized we were serious, though, they threw in 110% effort to support us.

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Take us through an average day for you.

I wake up between 5:30 and 6 a.m., depending on what’s going on that day. I’ll have a quick breakfast and then take a Citi bike to work. The team gets in at 7 a.m. We have a short meeting about what we need to do and what’s on tap for the day. I go over inventory, check emails, set up vendor deliveries, taste-test dumpling batches the team is making, and help prep if needed. When our doors open, I’m up at the cashier stand, making sure to greet everyone personally, while also helping out the kitchen if need be. During the few quiet lulls, I’ll respond to more emails. Then I’m back at the cashier stand for dinner rush.

When we close, we all help clean up. We’ll take a quick inventory so we know where we stand for the next day and have another brief team meeting to go over the day. I usually get home between midnight and 1:30am. The duties sound simple, but there’s a lot of detail that goes into running a restaurant.


What’s the best part about having your own restaurant?

Looking around and seeing my dream physically manifested in person!

What’s the worst?

No downtime at all. Everything sits on my shoulders.

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What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve run into so far?

Finding good people to work with, whom you can depend on. Luckily, we’ve found some amazing individuals, but it has been a long process.

What advice would you give to people who want to start their own businesses?

There’s a difference between liking to do something and living it day in and day out. You have to be mentally and emotionally prepared to do whatever your passion is 24/7. You may enjoy baking, but how about doing it for 17 hours a day? For some people, the hours burn out the passion. I’m exhausted but luckily still loving it.

Photo credits: Urban Daddy 

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