I started my career as a Marketer at American Express right after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with the thought that I would stay in corporate America. However, after 4 years, I felt the itch to try something different; challenge myself to learn more and find something I can be passionate about. Business school was of course an option, so was working for a startup, but after some introspection, what I really wanted to learn was how to run a company.
Armed with naiveté, the courage of youth, and my life savings, I quit my day job to dive into the world of chocolate. I chose chocolate because I loved food, travel, and art. Chocolate was the combination of all the things that I loved from which Lululosophy, a brand that reflected my life philosophy, was born.
I got my lucky break when Smorgasburg, the renowned Brooklyn food market gave me a permanent space at their weekend market after my chocolates won a contest they hosted. Since then, my brand has expanded to the Park Hyatt’s Spa Nalai, a number of coffee shops including Blue Stone Lane, and retail stores such as 2|Beans and Bene Rialto.
Since chocolate is a seasonal business with booms in the winter and spring, I picked up Real Estate for the summer focusing on residential sales and commercial rentals. I’m hoping the skills I learn as a Real Estate Agent can help me when I start looking for a home and when I finally decide to open my own chocolate boutique.
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: Did you always know what you wanted to do in life? What did you want to be when you were little?
“Life is like a box of chocolates.” I think this statement holds very true for me. I never thought I’d be where I am today, running a chocolate business and starting a career in Real Estate, but life brings you many unpredictable things. I am just glad I took the opportunities that came to me and ran with them.
When I was little, I thought I would be an astronaut or do something related to science since those were the subjects I enjoyed at the time. Perhaps in the future, that still night happen. I may go back for a masters or PHD in a field related to sciences, however, right now, I’m enjoying my box of chocolates, never knowing what I’m going to get next.
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: What is a typical work day like for you?
My work days are flexible since the work I do depend on the number of orders I receive for Lululosophy or the type of clients I am working with for Real Estate. I enjoy starting my day early, typically around 6am or 6:30am when I can get quick workout and a breakfast usually consisting of yogurt and granola. The next few hours, I typically spend planning out my day over a hot cup of tea brewed from one of the many teas I’ve accumulated from my travels.
Once my planning for the day is complete, the work begins and I either head into my Real Estate office in flatiron, or off to the many meetings I have planned out. Mid-day, I take some time to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee at one of my favorite coffee shops or nibble on a pastry.
My day ends when I’ve completed my tasks for the day and return home to cook a meal for dinner. Nighttime is reserved for some personal time, reading, yoga, and meditation. I find that these things help me wind down and relax in the evening so I can wake up energized for the next day.
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: How does your career affect your stylistic choices?
I love that I can wear many different styles due to my varied work schedule while running my chocolate business and conducting Real Estate deals.
Since running a business is all about first impressions and aesthetics, I pay a lot of attention to the colors that I wear.
I keep it casual when working from home on my chocolate business, but when I meet with clients I wear business casual attire usually in black and white dresses or outfits to reinforce the Lululosophy brand.When I work on Real Estate deals, I either wear blue to the first meeting and red to the second meeting signal to potential clients that I am trustworthy and that I am assertive enough to get the job done.
Accessories are always a fun addition to any outfit and show potential clients you have an eye for detail and design.
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: What do you do to de-stress? How do you balance work and play?
Not to sound like a health trainer, but my morning workout is a great way to start the day because it not only helps me stay energized throughout the day, but also gives me a good dose of endorphins which help me stay happy and prevent stress throughout the day.
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own chocolate company? (p.s. how do you not eat everything?!)
There are always three things I tell potential entrepreneurs that they need to have before jumping into a business:
- Enough savings to pay rent and live for at least a year without making money
- An amazing support network in preparation to be lonely because it is a job where you will be alone a lot without guidance or companionship
- The courage to just do it and the willpower to not eat all of your product
I think #3 is probably the hardest thing to do
STYLISH SOPHISTICATE: Where do you get your inspiration for your chocolate flavors?
All of Lululosophy’s flavors are inspired by my travels. Lululosophy primarily focuses on Asian flavors such as Hong Kong Milk Tea and Black Sesame because these are the flavors I enjoyed as a child, but could not find in chocolates in the US. I hope to be able to popularize Asian flavors and culture using Lululosophy chocolates.