Action: Encouraging children to express their environmental concerns and suggestions for improvement to their parents, siblings, friends, teachers, and local leaders. Showing them that their voices are valued is imperative as they will inherit the responsibility of caring for the environment at large.
As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laurie Wiluan, Founder of Personal Space MB.
Hawaiian-born Laurie Wiluan, spent two and a half decades living, working and travelling throughout Asia as a fashion photographer. Her love of history, culture, art, and home décor (particularly of the luxury designer variety) fueled her desire to bring authentic Asian design aesthetic to North America — and beyond. In 2016, Laurie launched Personal Space MB with an intimate team of designers — all hailing exclusively from the Far East — to create a curated collection of fine art, furniture and décor using traditional craftsmanship, sustainable production techniques and natural materials.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Hi, thank you so much for being interested in my story! I can answer this question with one word: Awareness. Our philosophy and mission are to bring awareness to more Asian Designers who are making waves in their own countries. Most of them have studied alongside many western designers in European Art Schools. Our criteria for selecting our partners are: Design Integrity, Longevity, Community Outreach, Sustainability Focused, and Nation Building
What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?
Our Mission is to be a bridge between Asia and North America. We can deliver finished goods for both small projects and large. Asia designers and manufacturers are capable of a lot of flexibility. Flexibility and Adaptability make us a great trade supplier of luxury projects and case goods for the Hospitality Industry.
Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?
Sustainability is and has been a concern. For example, Eva Natasa is one of Indonesia’s top Industrial Designers. She takes great pride in her nation and has her own protocols for selecting the plantation teak she uses for her collection. First, she works with the local government to make sure that the wood is legal. All land is owned by the government, so their involvement is key. Next, she and her associates check the age of the trees. For mature teak, it must be 55+ years old. What makes it so special is that after the tree is cut, the wood continues to produce oil, making the wood near impenetrable. Knowledge of where and how materials are sourced is now a necessity. Savvy clients demand accountability.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?
Businesses can and do take tax incentives to build ‘green’ buildings. Rebates are available to those that buy electric cars. I do see that the average consumer likes to be able to choose products that either are environmentally friendly or are sustainably sourced. We carry some Yak, Camel, and Mongolian Cashmere Goat hair products. It is fun to show customers what these animals look like, so they get a real sense and understanding of the natural colors available. The takeaway is a bit more knowledge of the origin of a particular product and how it came to be in their hands. The customer and clients feel valued when we take the time to tell its story.
The youth led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion, what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The 3 Rs is a great place to start.
- Reduce: I have three school age children and we are constantly reducing the amount of clothes they have. When they grow in size, we reduce the amount we have by giving them to family, friends, or charity.
- Reuse: Our Elementary school had a great program called Maker Space. The children were challenged to create objects with donated packaging materials donated by the families. They reused these items in their learning.
- Recycle: We sort all our trash at home and I even asked the refuse collection company to provide us with a bigger bin as most of the volume of our trash is packaging material and it takes up a lot of space.
- Discussion. This is perhaps the most important way to inspire the next generation. We talk about ways that improve our energy consumption. We talk about strategies that conserve energy at home. Turning off lights when not in use, not letting water run at the tap, walking when we can instead of driving, and borrowing items instead of buying.
- Action: Encouraging children to express their environmental concerns and suggestions for improvement to their parents, siblings, friends, teachers, and local leaders. Showing them that their voices are valued is imperative as they will inherit the responsibility of caring for the environment at large.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- How important a good Marketing team is! It’s such a crowded arena and our ads scream for attention amongst the millions of other ads. It takes skill and knowledge to make even a tiny dent.
- Start with a small inventory. The data needed for just one product is staggering!
- Co-Working Spaces can give you a mini business degree just by talking to other entrepreneurs.
- It’s lonely at the top. Being a business owner means consulting yourself a lot.
- More than 1 lawyer is needed and much more insurance than one thinks they need.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My WeWork Family. I started my business on one hired desk in a WeWork space of 30 desks. My neighbors taught me so much and gave some of the best advice. Asking questions is a great skill. I had many questions!
You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would expound on the necessity of having Hope. Sometimes it is the only thing that gets us through our trials or our fears.
What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?
This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!