Robert Chen

Robert Chen

Chinese American from Boston, MA      

“Both my parents are doctors. My dad is a family practitioner and my mom is a dermatologist. For me to tell them that I wasn’t going to be a doctor… it was… you know. . .”

I had a great time getting to know Robert, a student and aspiring entrepreneur at Northeastern University. He is the founder of an Asian American streetwear brand called, Dynasty 8 Apparel.  Rob’s personality grabs you almost instantly as he tells his story with such optimism and love for life. 

“Sometime in high school, my teacher asked me if I could sing. I told him that I only sang in the shower but he told me to audition anyway. It was in that first audition that I realized how much I loved to perform. I got into theatre and singing. I did spoken word poetry, and was the only Asian kid to do that at my school. My boarding school was in New Jersey, so I would take the train from New York to get to campus after poetry slams. Now instead of spoken word, I perform rap. I love music. It’s a passion of mine. My parents weren’t like, “oh yea, you should do biz”… they really wanted me to be a doctor.”

Rob’s passion for nurturing his creativity was unstoppable but his parents encouraged him to find some sort of stability. . . 

“When I was a kid, my dad made us listen to audiobooks – no radio, no music just the book Rich Dad Poor Dad and he bought us the board game Cash Flow for Kids. So I learned how to think with more of a business mindset. And that’s good because … while I get this exhilarating feeling doing art, writing, and performing, this stuff isn’t going to sustain itself. How am I going to do this, you know? Maybe I should get a full time job? But if I get a full time job, it’s not going to let me do what I want to.”

Rob wanted to stay true to himself as much as possible, and that meant choosing a path that was real and authentic to fuel his creativity. . . 

“The way I see life is this – as human beings we were made to create stuff. That’s how I see myself as an artist. Anyone can be like ‘I am now a person, and now I am going to build a skyscraper.’ It can be anything. We were meant to create. You got a good sense of humor? You go make people laugh. You want to start a business? You go plan that damn business model. People want something to call their own and you as the creator get to do that. That type of stuff gets me hyped.”

So what will Rob do after he graduates NEU? 

“I remember some people asking me, ‘What do you want to do when you graduate? Are you going to get a full-time job?’ and I tell them, ‘I don’t want to work yo, at least not in the conventional 9-5.’ See, I might bounce around a few odd jobs at first but at the end of the day I’m going to do something I love, and I know it’ll all pay off.”


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