CSUN’s AAPI Restauranteur Panel – Home Cooked

On the 1st of the month I was invited to be speak at a panel for CSUN’s AAPI Association (Asian American Pacific Islander Association). The panel consisted of Tien Nguyen (Los Angeles Food Writer), Kristine de la Cruz (owner of Creme Caramel LA), Rayson Esquejo (co-producer of Eat Play Move LA), and myself. The panel was held at the Oviatt Library in the center of CSUN’s campus.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect. When they asked me I was actually really surprised. I knew I was passionate and had a lot to say about what I do but had no idea people were noticing it.

When I arrived the room was still empty, so I wasn’t sure how many people were going to attend. I walked away for what felt like a minute and next thing I know the room is full of people! It was nerve-racking and exciting at the same time.

The room was intimate and inviting, could fit about 50+ people. They had chairs and a couch set up for us. They made it feel like a living room which made me feel more comfortable. 

The panel was a lot of fun. The organizers did a great job making us feel welcome. It felt like we were just talking amongst ourselves at someone’s house – talking about life, how our businesses evolved, and what’s become of the LA food scene. We also discussed what it was like as an Asian-American growing up as a minority and how that affects the way we’ve grown/how we perceive our businesses. Tons of good stuff! Hope the guests found it informative and fun!

We also prepared some pastries for the panel including our Ube Macaroons, Food for the Gods, Ube Custard Cake, and Barako Coffee. They were a hit! I’m so glad people enjoyed it.

What I’m really surprised about, though, is how passionate I am about my upbringing and what it’s like to be Filipino-American. I don’t know, I guess I never really thought about it. I mean it did, but I never thought about it being that pivotal or important to me until I had to talk about it. Talking about what it was like growing up, how my mom would pack me meat and rice instead of PB&J’s, the insecurity I felt, watching my parents be entrepreneurs, the gap between 1st and 2nd generation Filipinos, and the journey of eating both Filipino and non-Filipino food. Wow, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Who knew?! Well now I know, it’s important to me.

More on that later, this needs a post all in itself. In the meantime….

A big thank you to Katherine (in the yellow), Veronica (not pictured), and the entire team at CSUN for your hospitality and for inviting this girl to a big girl party. Hope to work with you again in the future!

xoxo,

Please like & share:

The Entrepreneur Diaries – Do What you have to Do

As entrepreneurs we have these big, sparkly dreams of pursuing our passions. And while it’s rewarding and a dream come true we can all admit that it’s not as easy as we thought it’s as going to be. Even if we thought it would be hard, it’s always never what we expected. Then again, that’s life right? 😊

Life for me has been far from what I expected. I have definitely had a lot of ups and a fair share of downs. Charlie and I were just talking the other day about how moving our business to a larger location has forced us to make a lot of adjustments in our personal life. We’re putting in much longer hours, we don’t get to take breaks during our 12+ hour shifts, and we don’t get to see our family and friends as often as we’d like. Not to mention money is extremely tight.

My point isn’t to bitch about how hard my life is (even though it did give me a window of opportunity to do that lol 😝) but rather to say that we do what we have to do to make it work. Charlie and I agreed that we would never trade this experience for anything and if we could do it again we’d probably do it all over. Hardships, tears, and all.

Of course, I have my moments when I admit my situation just sucks. Those times where I just want to scream or burst into tears (or both). But most of the time I don’t complain. I mean let’s be real, this is a choice. Being an entrepreneur is a choice. And quite honestly, this choice aka those sparkly dreams we’re talking about are only making my life harder. But I chose this life. This is how I live my happiest life. So I do what I have to do to keep this life going.

  • I cut my spending everywhere I can.
  • I get a part-time job, a full-time job, a temp job to pay for my business/bills until it takes off
  • I work day and night
  • I get virtually no sleep
  • I eat nothing but instant ramen ($0.33 each meal, not bad!)
  • I pay my employees more than I pay myself
  • I drop everything, get on my knees, and pray for a miracle (this one happens the most often)

I’ve done all of the above with no shame.

You get it. Dreams take work. Especially the big, sparkly ones 😘

Xoxo,

Please like & share:

Why am I a Realtor?

We’re going to kick off a real estate themed series on the blog. I’m so excited to share this with you! This year has been a big year in real estate for me and I’ve learned so much along the way. I thought that I should pass on the knowledge that I’ve learned in case you’re planning on investing in the real estate market in the future.

First, I thought I’d share how I got into the real estate industry. Read on friends!

I’ve told the story before. My mom and dad were small business owners. My dad owned a trucking company and my mom was a Realtor for over 25 years. Blah blah blah. If you’ve been following my blog you know the story. You got the inside scoop 😉

I was surrounded by the real estate business all my life. My mom brought me everywhere. I mean everywhere. Even when I didn’t want to (which was always lol). She dragged me to open houses, caravans, house showings, listing appointments…she would even take me to her office and make me sit there until it was time to go home. Needless to say, I hated it. I used to complain about their entrepreneur life all the time. I hated how they would have to work while on vacation.

Mom’s Real Estate Headshot

Here I am, an entrepreneur just like my parents. I started my first business at 19 – a wedding planning company. I guess my mom saw that I had that entrepreneurial spirit so she started to hint about wanting me to go into real estate with her. And when I mean hint, I mean bugged me until I caved in. She wore me down and convinced me to get my real estate license in 2007.

I would help her from time to time, but I never really took it seriously. She wanted us to be partners, a team. She wanted to call us the “Solomon Team.” I know, not very creative lol. At one point I was kinda interested but she would do everything and so I got complacent and lazy to learn. I didn’t really pay attention because I wanted to pave my own way. I was the real independent type growing up. I didn’t want a hand me down. I felt like if I was a part of something my parents created they had the permission to always look at me like a little kid and never take what I had to say seriously.

But then one day my mom asked me to lunch. She rarely ever did that so I knew it was important. She told me about Ninong’s and she wanted me to help them. That day was the first of many that changed everything.

It was the first time my mom talked to me about something important. In the past, I was never consulted on big family decisions. Not only that but she spoke to me like an adult, like I was more than her little girl. At that moment I realized that to continue a legacy is just as important as starting one.

Shortly after I started my job at Ninong’s my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Even more so, my life changed in a big way. Since then, being the rock for my family was the most important thing in the world to me. As my mom’s health gradually got worse I saw the role she played not just for me and my dad but for our entire family. I wanted a taste of what that felt like.

When my mom passed away I was completely shaken. I don’t think I’ll ever really get over it. Sometimes the memory of those last minutes of her life replay in my head and haunt me. But the one thing that really stuck with me more than that haunting moment was the idea of legacy. I saw the impact my mom had on so many people. I mean, I knew what she meant to me but I had no idea how loved she really was. She changed lives, she created a meaningful life far beyond her work and career. I realized that I wanted that for myself.

I don’t want to be remembered for how much money I made, the businesses I started, or how much stuff I had. I want to be remembered as a person that loved helping people – with no strings attached. I want to give what I can as often as I can to improve the lives of others, to make them happy.

After the dust settled I had a decision to make. Do I continue real estate without my mom? How the heck will I do that? When I decided that I was going to continue people thought it was out of left field. They knew I had a creative background as a graphic designer, they knew I had a wedding planning business, and that I had taken over at Ninong’s for my parents. Most people didn’t even know I’ve had a license since 2007. But it quickly made sense when people realize it’s the one thing (even more than Ninong’s) that helps me feel close to my mom.

She loved her job so much, she enjoyed every minute. To step into her shoes, to help people the way she did is the best way that I can continue her legacy and keep her close. To hear the beautiful things her clients over the course of her 25 year career continue to say about her always brings me to tears. Proud and happy tears. I hope I can do the same for people the way she did – selflessly, graciously, and with a smile.

Cheers to you, Mom! I’m honored and so happy that I have real estate as another outlet to help people and that’s all thanks to you. The moments when I see how happy our clients are makes me feel so close to you even when you’re gone. Thank you for that.

xoxo,

Please like & share: