MS: What was your pivotal moment in life that made you take this direction?
APKL: I don't think that there was one single moment that has made me what I am. I have, for as long as I can remember, been this way. My father has always told us to be different. I grew up with the mindset that it was okay to do things that other people didn't do and to think differently.
MS: What made you want to be what you are now?
APKL: There are many things that have inspired me to get to this point of my life. Passion for living and showing the beauty of life is my main motivator. I aspire to show people that there is more way than one to live life, that doing and having it all is possible.
MS: How did you get started/where did you begin?
APKL: I really got started about ten years ago, when I really began to fall in love with vintage pieces and the history behind them. The background and souls that can be found within the vintage furniture really inspired me. The food aspect of my life came from my frustration behind the never changing presentation that Lao food was always shown. No matter where I went or what I ate, my mom's cooking, my aunt's cooking, my neighbor's cooking, it always looked the same. While there is nothing ultimately wrong with that, I wanted to show people a different side of Lao cooking. I wanted to show them the inner beauty of the culture through beauty in the food. The recipes are still the same, the flavors and taste hasn't changed, I just want to show the possibility of its beauty to appeal to the newer generations as well as the old.
MS: What are your short-term and/or long-term goals at the moment?
APKL: A short term goal would be to make my Instagram more visible and to be able to reach more people, especially the younger generation. A long term goal that I would love to be able to do someday is to make a lifestyle book, teach more cooking classes, I aspire to get my recipes and lifestyle out there.
MS: Best advice I was given?
APKL: Follow your heart and passion. Buy and do things, only if you truly love them.
MS: What is something you wish you knew in the beginning?
APKL: Technology. It has become the way of life these days, I wish I would've started using technology sooner.
MS: Who/what are your biggest inspirations?
APKL: People, culture and tradition are my biggest inspirations in life. Every culture has a beauty and a story to be told. I love discovering these aspects and getting to incorporate them into my own life.
MS: What is your favorite meal to share?
APKL: My favorite food is Khao-Poon, Lao curry noodle soup. Growing up and even to this day it was always a weekend get together. People would come, visit, and have a bowl before they left. It holds a lot of meaning to me and even to this day when I make it, I am reminded of these memories and feelings. Fresh coconut water, ever since I could remember it was the main drink of my childhood. We never had any soda or anything, but we would always have coconut water available.
I would also have to say Kua Mee, Lao pan fried noodles and papaya salad. To me, that is Laos. It has a little bit of everything and pairs beautifully together. I feel like Kua Mee is underrated, everyone knows about Pad Thai, but not many know about Kua Mee.
And lastly, fresh spring rolls/salad rolls. I have never met anyone that doesn't like it. It also is able to show the heart of Laos without being overbearing to those who are hesitant.
MS: What is your ideal non-work day?
APKL: Wake up with a cup of coffee, walk around my garden and leave the house to an antique shop. There I would find the perfect antique piece and get an opportunity to learn the history about it. When I got home I would harvest vegetables from my garden and cook a delicious dinner with them for my family to enjoy.
MS: What are some things that keep you going?
APKL: The idea of discovering something new is a big motivator to me. My family also keeps me going.
MS: What is something you wish people learned or knew more about in your industry?
APKL: I wish that people realized that antique pieces are more than just broken down pieces of furniture. That there is so much history and life behind each piece. I also wish that people understood that cooking is the labor of love. No dish is complete if there isn't love that goes into it. I believe that that is the most important part about cooking, the love is more important than the ingredients.
MS: What does supporting local mean to you?
APKL: Supporting local means everything to me. Everybody has a dream and works hard to support the community. I believe so strongly in buying and supporting local.
MS: Do you have advice or encouragement for ways to support local?
APKL: Talk to your neighbors, read flyers, try new places. Don't be afraid to seek out getting involved in your community. Supporting local means supporting dreams.
MS: If you could solve one problem in the world, what would it be?
APKL: I would seek to solve world hunger. I don't think that anybody should go to bed hungry. No child should ever be hungry.
MS: Do you have advice for people interested in the same field?
APKL: Push through. Life will always try to bring you down, and often it'll succeed. But it's important to get back up and brush it off. Looking at other people who have succeeded despite the odds, allow it to inspire you. If they can do it, so can you.
MS: How do you approach a work life balance?
APKL: I prepare a lot. I set up a prepping system beforehand, from weeks before to hours before I always try to stay right on top of the things that I do. I also just enjoy the work that I do. It has never been something I have to prioritize as it is just my life and way of living.
MS: How would you define success?
APKL: Contentment. When you are able to look around and only want others to be more successful than you and have more than you, that is success. When you can look at your life and not want anything in return but other's happiness and success.
MS: What was a challenge you did not expect to overcome that you did?
APKL: Friends come and go. Some friends are meant to stay for a long time while others are only here for a short time. Everyone has something to offer and something to teach. Nothing is meant forever and accepting that will make your life more full. And also, time does heal. At the end of it all, what I know to be most true is that time will always heal all wounds.