Laurie Wiluan: “People are the most valuable resource”

There is a general attitude that needs to shift. People are the most valuable resource any nation has. Once that attitude is well established and cherished, then all other matters follow suit. It would be nice to dispense with fear and suspicion As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the […]

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There is a general attitude that needs to shift. People are the most valuable resource any nation has. Once that attitude is well established and cherished, then all other matters follow suit. It would be nice to dispense with fear and suspicion

As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laurie Wiluan.

Hawaiian-born Laurie Wiluan was fortunate to have lived in different parts of Asia, assimilating into the vast, historic, and undeniably beautiful continent, for 25 culturally-rich years before repatriating back to the States. A life-long lover of history, culture, art, beauty, and home décor, particularly of the luxury designer variety, Laurie realized her entrepreneurial spirit when she began her brand that would bring authentic Asian design aesthetic to North America — and beyond. She saw an opportunity to disrupt the industry by truly offering next-level, home essentials all designed by renowned, talented Asian designers to anyone, anywhere. In 2016, she began procuring an intimate team of designers — all hailing exclusively from the Far East — to create a curated collection of fine home furnishings, including anecdotal accessories, exquisite luminaries, and unique, must-haves for the motif minimalist or maximalist. An antidote to the ordinary, her envisioned brand would become the premier trade supplier of posh, practical, and pretty pieces without the pretentious price tags. Because, fine furnishings shouldn’t cost a fortune, no matter one’s budget, needs, or desires.

Laurie sees her fresh brand as an innovator in the convergence of designer and consumer, especially with the environmental savviness of today’s discerning home décor customer. Styling one’s sanctuary should be a personal experience — from the vision to the shopping cart to the delivery to the end result. It’s an all-encompassing experience for the buyer, and Laurie and her select design team and customer service professionals are there every step of the way.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up as a US Army Brat all over the world. We didn’t spend much time in the US. It was hard as a child, but I later appreciated having had the experience of different cultures.

Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell a story?

I’m actually a US citizen, but I spent most, if not all, my life outside of the US. In some ways, I do feel like a foreigner with a SSN.

Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?

I repatriated in 2016 to Manhattan Beach, CA. I had never lived in California before. It was exciting! The beach, the fresh air, the open spaces! I became obsessed with road trips and took my family as far as I could. We spent summers on an organic farm in Mendocino County. My kids still want to go back there. It’s off the grid. No cell phones. Just raw nature. We’ve even stayed at Feather Down Farms in Chino. That is a 1900s glamping experience. No electricity. We used candles for light.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?

Yes! We actually enlisted an educational advisor to find the right community to move to. As you can imagine, trying to find the right community for a family takes some time and expert advice is needed! She asked me for a wish list and said that everything I was looking for could be found in a placed call Manhattan Beach! I said, Take me to this Manhattan Beach!

So how are things going today?

Well, I am writing this in April 2020 and a lot has changed for everyone. We’ve made some great industry friends along the journey and they are our champions. I, and my company, appreciate them very much. We are still finding our footing as a new company, but I have high hopes that we fit a niche that wasn’t there before. A bridge between two continents in away.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I love the designers we work with. They have been working in their craft for so long and continue to have such passion. Helping them with their vision is our success. The people we look to work with believe in sustainability on all fronts. Cultural, Economic, National, Philosophical, Materials. We look for the ethos behind their vision. It’s more than buying and selling. We are invested as their partner in this vision.

You have first hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you change to improve the system?

There is a general attitude that needs to shift. People are the most valuable resource any nation has. Once that attitude is well established and cherished, then all other matters follow suit. It would be nice to dispense with fear and suspicion

Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.

The 5 keys are universal. Whether it is a move to America or elsewhere, one should try to integrate into their communities. Celebrate with neighbors during local events, get to know local history, find commonalities and mention these often, introduce yourself to at least 100 people. The American Dream is founded on the principles of meritocracy. If one works hard, they will be successful. This is still true.

We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?

The private sector is where I see the most forward thinkers implementing ideas. They lead the way in terms of creating viable businesses NOT at the expense of their workforce.

There really is a great sense of community and neighborly values. We have seen that play out in the past few weeks.

The youth. They are powerful and they know it. They have been called to action. I am sure they will not disappoint.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

I would love to have lunch with anyone that wants lunch with me. When I started this business, it was in a wework. I was not able to secure a shop space and opened a small showroom in my wework space. My first customer was a janitor who worked there. She cleaned my space everyday and saw a bracelet she really liked. It was not a cheap bracelet, even with the steep discount I gave her. It taught me a very valuable lesson about the customers I was trying to attract. Our audience is really anyone. This woman works very hard for her salary and she can choose how she wants to spend her money. She is a VIP to me and to our company, always.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

We are most active on Instagram as it is visually based, but our presence on Pinterest is growing. We basically are on all platforms apart from TikTok. I haven’t quite worked that one out!

Instagram: @personalspacemb


This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thank you as well!

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