I am Francesca Mateo, also known as ChiChai.
Since I was younger, I aspired to combine my love for art and community together. I'm now fulfilling that dream through my streetwear brand Empire in the Air and by serving as an after-school art teacher for public school students in San Francisco.
Our apparel carries the message that everyone can build their own Empires. We strive to inspire others to stick their heads at cloud-level & turn dreams into reality.
Along with encouragement through our products, we take action by hosting community events in the San Francisco Bay Area. From open mics and art shows to 5k runs and kickball tournaments, we offer a platform for others to share their passions.
As the art organization Root Division’s Filipinx American Teaching Artist Fellow, I create and teach my own art curriculum to the youth of Galing Bata. Because Galing Bata serves the youth of SoMa Pilipinas — San Francisco’s Filipinx Cultural Heritage District— the lesson plans aim to celebrate Filipinx and Filipinx-American history and cultures.
Youth Art Exchange (YAX) is a non-profit organization that provides free art classes and professional development for public high school students in San Francisco. I teach the Fashion Design class in which I provide students with basic training for dyeing, embroidery, and sewing as well as how to market & brand their products.
Interview with TFCU about Empire in the Air and the inspiration behind it
ChiChai has been featured as a
speaker, workshop teacher, artist, and panelist.
She has also collaborated with
other organizations in coordinating
Photo credit: Samantha Soon