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Meet Belle Dankongkakul of STU/FF in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Belle Dankongkakul.

Belle, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My story is your classic, quit your corporate job to do what you love story. I was working at a large corporate company and was miserable because it was creatively draining. Most days I found myself in irrelevant meetings and twiddling my thumbs waiting for something to do. I never want to have to get “exec approval” to do something new ever again. So when my parents expressed to me that they wanted to retire I happily told them I would take over the family business, Torung Restaurant. My agreement came with one request– that I would be able to use part of the dry storage space to use as a shared office to do freelance graphic design on the side.

However, that idea quickly escalated and changed many times as I started to reorganize the space and clear it out. At first, I thought I’d turn it into a co-working space, and that’s how the name STU/FF came to fruition (STU-dio and o-FF-ice).

I wanted to create a creative space where people could make cool stuff and then possibly sell that stuff since the space is located on Hollywood Blvd with floor to ceiling windows. Then I realized that that goal was way too hefty because it takes a lot to create a co-working space, too many amenities required. So I decided I’d renovate the space and open it for the community to use as a rental space. I loved the idea of having workshops and pop-ups in the space, and if someone needed an off-site meeting spot they could use the table my friend and I built together. I furnished it just enough to give it character but minimal enough where it could be a blank canvas for anyone to use as their own.

My goal is to have space become a resource for the community and other entrepreneurs to do what makes them happy. I had my grand opening event featuring work by a group of photographers in January 2018 and have now successfully thrown one pop-up shop event in the space. I hope to be able to organize many more events including monthly pop-up shops and my own workshops once a following grows. I’m open to all ideas and really just want this space to be useful to everyone.

Has it been a smooth road?
For the first year I quit my job I struggled a lot with self-doubt and from fear of failure I ended up falling back into an old restaurant job. I still work there today and it’s a great source of side income as I build my business, but it made me comfortable enough where I wasn’t actively progressing in my STU/FF goals. Thankfully I was working there with my best friend, Myra Djahauri, and together we made a pact to push each other to achieve new goals.

Now we are partners in organizing events at the space. She and I have successfully organized 2 events now and she has even started her own clothing line business, Como Chingas. It’s so important to have a good support system and to constantly support each other. Without her, I probably wouldn’t have officially opened in January.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I like to think of STU/FF as a community space. A space for everyone to use for whatever they need and to grow their own businesses. I’m proud of the few events we have thrown in this space so far. At our pop-up event, every merchant sold something and I was extremely happy about that. I’m not sure what exactly sets us apart since I did renovate this space to be a blank canvas, but I hope it’s seen as a place to do stuff, create stuff, and make stuff happen.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is a great place for a business like mine because there are so many creative people here who have found new ways to make a living doing what they love. More and more people are quitting their jobs and pursuing their passion projects and sometimes they need an affordable space to grow their business, and that’s where I come in.

For someone just starting out, I wouldn’t recommend LA just because the cost of living is so high. I do however encourage them to pursue whatever it is they want to do on the side until it’s enough to do it full-time.

I’m not sure what the city can do. Lower self-employment taxes?

Pricing:

  • an hour – $45
  • the night – $150
  • a day – $275

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Allix Johnson

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