Today we’d like to introduce you to Ingkarat Narupajaturongporn.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m originally from Chiang Mai, Thailand. I was a server at Thai restaurants for a couple of years when I first moved here but hoped to find work in something I was passionate about. I enjoyed working in the service industry but when it came to what I really looked forward to achieving my life goal, I wanted to be my own boss. I soon quit the restaurant job and went back to Thailand and looked for inspiration.
I had noticed that so many tourists loved the Elephant Pants that are popular there. Almost everybody was wearing them while walking on the streets as they are noticeable by the colors and prints. When I was younger, I would help my family selling items at The Night Bazaar and a walking street in Chiang Mai. (Vending is probably in my blood! Lol) So, I decided to buy in bulk some of those comfy pants (like 200 pairs) and bring them back to America to start my own business 🙂
Has it been a smooth road?
The path to my own business was definitely not a smooth road. When I first started, I knew nothing about vending in America. I didn’t know we needed permits or insurances to sell things. In Thailand, we can just set a table and sell anything anywhere. I first started off selling at swap meets which involved waking up at 2 in the morning, driving for two hours to Palm Springs, and getting in line for a spot. I made $150 the first day, minus $90 for booth fee. LOL I mean, it’s definitely felt like a struggle and I was thinking maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I went to a couple more swap meets but I was still not making the money I hoped or expected.
Luckily, while I was vending, there were always kind people telling me to go to the markets where my target customers should be. Some examples included street fairs, Hawaiian festivals, Vegan festivals and other similar festivals. Then, when I got home, I googled these types of events and tried to apply for a booth. The booth fees were very pricey (comparing to Swap Meet LOL) and that really scared me. And then … BOOM! That was it! I started with a Hawaiian festival. Selling two days and made more than the serving job for a whole month. I smiled and was super duper happy and I knew that I was going in the right way 🙂
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Akaluck Apparel story. Tell us more about the business.
My business name is Akaluck Apparel. (Akaluck means unique in Thai) I imported mostly clothing from Thailand. I drive around from California to some other states like Arizona, Utah, Oregon to set up a booth and sell my products. My clothing lines are very comfortable, cool and cute and are offered at an affordable price according to what my customers tell me! 😀
As you may know, Thai pants are popular worldwide. With so many competitors here in LA. I thought that my shop needed to stand out from other vendors so I pushed myself to do things I had never done like designing new styles. I’m so proud of the growth in myself and my business because it keeps expanding with a variety of products. From starting selling just pants, I have also designed some cute tops, dresses, and cover-ups, with some of them have becoming my top sellers 🙂 Also, being a Thai girl selling Thai products really sets me apart from other vendors 😉
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I have been vending and designing these products for five years. From the first year til now, I’ve seen big changes in the fashion trends. Thai pants have definitely become less popular since 2015 and as a clothing business owner, I need to follow the trends fashion and what is popular. I have to design more products to fit what people want to wear. I still love to stick with the materials I use because of the uniqueness and how comfortable they are.
I also plan to do my business more online. During this pandemic, everything has changed. Every festival and market has been canceled and vendors can’t make the money they were accustomed to making. So, online business is definitely a number one choice that I have to focus on in order to expand my business not only California but also to other states and hopefully worldwide in this coming years 🙂
- Average price $20 – $45
- Website: www.etsy.com/shop/akaluckCA
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/akaluckapparel
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/akaluckapparel