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Introducing Mother Mary to the world through cute merch

Maria Montemayor

Monday, December 18, 2023

Diane Tchoi with her stickers and keychains.
Inklings of The Humble Servant Shop began when Diane Tchoi, 27, joined a World Youth Day (WYD) group from St. Agnes Kouying Tsao Parish that was going to Lisbon. They needed to raise funds for the trip and asked if anyone could draw. "I said I could volunteer and make some stickers so, I did make some stickers for the fundraising," Tchoi said. 
Tchoi loved drawing anime and had experience drawing it for side projects, so she drew Mother Mary in a chibi style to portray her in a cute, inviting, and humble way.
"Everybody has their own art style," she said. "There's also a certain charm with cute drawings that's inviting too, kind of like how Jesus came here on earth as a baby. He didn’t come here as a fully grown man. A lot of times when people see babies they say, 'Aww, that's so cute!' It's very inviting; it's very innocent, humble, something you want to protect. And it's very captivating. It draws your eyes."
Tchoi shared her stickers with people she knew. They were impressed and told her she should make merchandise (merch) out of the images. After prayerful discernment, and inspired by her WYD pilgrimage, she made a keychain of Our Lady of Fatima based on her stickers. 
"I started making the Fatima keychain out of the stickers I have because I thought that it would be a great, memorable item to have for my fellow pilgrims to remember that we were in a group that went to Fatima. At first, it was [for] my World Youth Day exclusive crew to have a keychain to put on their bag."
The next keychain she made was of Our Lady of Guadalupe. 
"My mom wanted to give some Christmas gifts to others as well. I let her choose, okay, which one do you want? She said, 'Let's do Guadalupe.' […] I guess Mother Mary has [also] been guiding me, like, why don’t you make this one next?" 
Eventually, she created a shop for her merch called The Humble Servant Shop. 
"The Bible quote that made me decide on the name is actually one of the Sunday homilies where they were talking about the ten talents. The Bible verse [Matthew 25:21] actually says, 'Well done, faithful, humble servant,' and so that's where the name comes from. It gave me inspiration because it reminded me that [work] doesn’t have to be perfectly done, faithful and humble servant, it just has to be well done. As long as you are able to do it and offer it to God, that’s enough for him."
Tchoi hasn't seen much Catholic merch like hers around, but knows that a lot of teenagers and young adults are fans of anime and cute items. She hopes that her products attract young people and bring them closer to their faith.
"They can put it on their bag, water bottle, planner, notebook, journal. And it's a great way to evangelize younger people too because these young people need reminders in their everyday lives to remind themselves who God is and remind them of their faith. Even the little things, maybe they'll grab their water bottle but they'll see the Mary sticker there. They'll probably remember just because of looking at it. So, it's a little way of evangelizing to other people."
So far, many people have been amazed by her merch and have asked her to tell them more about the Marian images. 
"It made me question, do I really remember much about Fatima or Guadalupe? I know about it, but it made me question how much I know about it, and it made me want to search more about it because a lot of people are actually quite curious. If there's a connection [to] it, and especially if they know something about it, they'll cherish it even more."
In the future, she hopes to have more Catholic merch available in The Humble Servant Shop, such as posters.
"I think one project I would like to start in the future is doing the Mysteries of the Rosary. For the Mysteries of the Rosary, I guess I would like to draw scenes of it. Let's see what God wants me to make! It's him who is gonna inspire."
Tchoi's advice for other artists and creative people is to not be afraid to make Christian art.
"Don't be afraid of starting because I know sometimes when you make faith-based related stuff it gets very daunting as well, and you don't know who your crowd is out there. I think one fear of every artist is, 'Who would ever want this? Is it worth making it?' 
"So, I guess try starting it, see where God leads you. God gives you talents. He gives you gifts, so why not use it? Even if it's not art, maybe it's music. It may not even be directly faith related, maybe even through sports. Whatever vocation or career that we're called to, God really wants us to be apostles. Be stewards out there, because you never know, we might be the only walking Bible that they're ever going to read."

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