We had the good fortune of connecting with Bailey Phommavong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bailey, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
LarbLai began as our passion project with one goal in mind: creating products that connect people through our interests and culture. You could say that LarbLai is the product of our three roads intersecting. Jeanny had already been cultivating her own projects for some time and was greatly inspired by existing small businesses. LarbLai became the gateway to exploring the marketing world and to elevating her own creative works. Kandace aspired to create products with the sole purpose of bringing joy to others. Outside of her job as a healthcare worker, she wanted a way to integrate her creative hobbies into her daily life; LarbLai fulfills that wish. I am currently a full time art student, so selling my art and designing products has always been something I’ve wanted to do. LarbLai not only felt like an introduction to what I might experience as I continue to pursue a career as an artist, but has also become an outlet for me to create art of my own, outside of my class assignments. LarbLai has definitely moved beyond a simple passion project and has now become a central part of our lives, giving us a way to find joy in our everyday schedules while pursuing our dreams as a family.
What should our readers know about your business?
Names share so many stories, emotions, and meanings. One of the most important aspects of our shop is our name; we want people to understand and know the meaning behind LarbLai. Our shop name is a play on words that expresses our love, our culture, and our love for our culture. Larb is a Lao meat salad and is phonetically similar to the English word ‘love’. Lai is the Lao word meaning ‘a lot’. Our name represents what we want to achieve through our business: to spread a lot of love to the people who enjoy our products. From the beginning, our team of three fit together like puzzle pieces. Jeanny handles all finances and communications with manufacturers, Kandace manages orders and communications with customers, and I design our products. When it comes to new product releases, we exchange our ideas, discuss all the options, and finalize the next product only when we’ve found something that we can all appreciate and want to share with the world. Of course, we find ourselves learning new things everyday, finding areas of improvement, but we continue to adapt as we go because we want our approach to be as versatile as our range of products. The biggest thing we have had to overcome is coordinating between San Diego, where Kandace and I live, and Vancouver, Washington, where Jeanny currently lives. Luckily because we grew up together, we have always had a strong sense of communication. This is precisely why our system has worked so well. We are able to happily bring ideas to each other, comfortably discuss the management of our products, and freely express how we want to move forward together. Through LarbLai, we want to create a shop that is meant for everybody by offering a variety of themes in our stickers and enamel pins. Our business is a means for us to share our culture and interests, from Kpop to TV Shows, with others. Our number one priority is working towards being a business where everyone is able to find a bit of happiness when they visit our shop site.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
San Diego has such beautiful hiking trails and beaches, but a personal favorite is the Torrey Pines trail. We love to take our time along the trail and end our adventure on the beach with a nice picnic and maybe even an impromptu photoshoot. Coronado Beach as well as Mission Bay have always been our go-to places to hang out with family. Other than loving beautiful sceneries, our family is made up of a bunch of foodies! There are always new restaurants and dessert stops popping up in the Convoy District, so it is quite common for us to take mini ‘food tours’ with all the cousins, hopping from one dessert place to the next. Convoy has such a variety of delicious asian cuisines that we’ll never get tired of. And since Jeanny is currently living in Vancouver, WA, which is right next door to Portland, she has some suggestions for an exciting itinerary in her area: I live in the Pacific Northwest. We are surrounded by mountains, forests, woods, and beaches. Usually when I have visitors, hikes are a given because you need to see all the fresh greenery and breathe the fresh air. Waterfalls are everywhere! There are so many fun, unique shops in Downtown Portland to venture into. And I would definitely recommend a quick drive to the coast for some crabbing and clam digging, with some of the most diverse eateries around the area. I’m still exploring places to eat, it’s never ending!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We’d like to dedicate our shoutout to our entire family for being our greatest inspiration and our strongest support system. Because of our parents and grandparents, we had the privilege to grow up immersed in our culture that is so often overlooked or lost when moving to America. We are proud of who we are and we celebrate our culture through LarbLai. And with such a huge, yet close-knit, family, we’ve shared each other’s clothes, borrowed each other’s books, watched all the newest movies, had numerous sleepovers, and went on nationwide vacations – always together. We’ve shared countless emotions, troubles and joys. Whether it is helping us promote our business, buying our products, or simply giving us encouraging words, our family has shown us never-ending support. They are the reason we are constantly motivated to do what we love.