Growing up in an immigrant family, I was conditioned and raised to think that the only way to become successful were to enlist in ‘stable’ careers such as becoming a doctor, lawyer or an accountant. My family grew up in Cambodia and Vietnam where their main focus during the war was survival — never mind an education or career of any sort. With this in mind, I did my best to make my parents proud... Or so I thought.
After high school I completed an AutoCAD drafting and design diploma. I was influenced by my dad who started his own construction company in 1996. He didn’t speak fluent English and he worked very hard to make sure he put food on the table and a roof over our heads. I figured I could help mitigate his costs by learning how to draw blueprints for his clients. I decided to further my education and enroll in an interior design program. During the first semester in one of my courses, the instructor asked us to practice drawing straight lines without a ruler for a long three months. Then there was the course on the history of colour. I was falling asleep during classes because I was bored out of my mind.
After the first semester break, I decided I was done. I was done living my parents' dreams of having an education and a ‘safe’ career. I was done attending classes I really didn’t care about — who needs to know about the history of colour anyway? I was completely done living someone else’s life! Tuning into my parents entrepreneurial traits, I decided it was time I started my own business on the one thing I purchased the most — coffee! Not just any coffee though, Vietnamese coffee: Cafe sữa đá (it means iced coffee with milk). I just needed to figure out how to make a great tasting instant version for busy individuals on the go like myself.
For the next few months, I continued to work full time as a project manager for my dad’s construction company and spent all of my evenings and weekends working on my new passion project. I stayed up long nights speaking to a plethora of coffee manufacturers in Vietnam and asked them to ship me many different samples. I didn’t tell anybody about my business idea for months. I knew that if I kept my head down, worked hard, and steered away from people who may project their doubts onto me, everything would work out.
I launched my small business, LAM Beverages, with two hero products: our traditional and premium instant Vietnamese coffee on September 21st, 2020. Sure enough, everything did work out. Fast forward a year later, we attended our first trade show in October 2021. With the help of both of my parents and my significant other working the booth with me, we sold 600 coffee bags. I was over the moon! I was overjoyed that I created a product that people enjoyed and were happy to share with their loved ones. What made me even more happy is that other small business owners shared heartfelt messages about how they have implemented LAM Beverages coffee into their daily routines and made their life so much easier. I made a promise to myself that day to strive to create delicious beverage products that would make people’s lives more convenient and enjoyable.
To anyone reading this, imagine what’s possible once you stop doubting yourself.
Take a leap of faith and take the first step towards creating the life of your dreams. I’m rooting for you, always!
I wanted to leave you with my favourite recipe for you to enjoy.
Founder of LAM Beverages