by Patranya Bhoolsuwan
(This text initially appeared on Worldwide Examiner and has been reprinted below an settlement.)
“Now we have usually appeared round and requested, ‘The place are the Black and Brown individuals working, and the place are the Black and Brown purchasers?’ Due to this, we have now been actually intentional that our clientele represents who we’re.”
That is greater than only a enterprise motto for Sonia Lynn-Abenojar and Sergio Max Legon-Talamoni, the cofounders of La Union Studio, an structure, inside, and design consultancy. The (newly married) husband and spouse staff have taken their ardour for structure and design, together with their love for the various communities of the Pacific Northwest, to create a enterprise that displays who they’re as people and entrepreneurs.
“The Chinatown-Worldwide District could be very a lot a part of our childhood and our upbringings. We’re each from South Seattle. We had been a part of the Filipino Youth Actions drill staff,” stated Legon-Talamoni. “I’m really half American Samoa and half Cuban, and Sonia is Filipino, however we actually embrace this mixture of cultures in our neighborhood. We attempt to weave arts, tradition, historical past into a whole lot of initiatives.”
One in every of their most seen initiatives up to now within the CID has been Hood Well-known Cafe + Bar. The homeowners had seen the work that Abenojar and Legon-Talamoni had achieved at BAHTOH, one other Asian American and Pacific Islander-owned enterprise within the neighborhood, and reached out to the couple to design their area.
“Plenty of particulars you see in Hood Well-known are paying homage to stuff you would see within the Philippines,” stated Legon-Talamoni.
“Or what you see in your auntie and uncle’s home!” Abenojar provides, laughing. “We love the historical past of the Hood Well-known constructing. It used to deal with Filipino laborers again within the days once they had been working within the cannery and the timber business. We had been impressed to create these geometric, bamboo-like characteristic partitions which had been impressed by a Filipino tribal tattoo. It means ‘day and evening,’ which inserts Hood Well-known’ coffee-to-cocktail idea. We need to spotlight the permanence of Filipino tradition within the Pacific Northwest and the resilience, if you’ll.”
This couple, each of their early 30s, has seen firsthand the challenges that Black and Brown individuals face with regards to beginning a brand new enterprise. La Union Studio was created to be a part of an answer in breaking down boundaries and making design extra accessible.
“What we do is strategy purchasers with empathy. That’s what we do proper off the bat — attempt to perceive the state of affairs that folks come to the venture with,” stated Legon-Talamoni. “Understanding the method is without doubt one of the largest boundaries. Realizing when and easy methods to rent an architect and discovering the correct individuals for the venture. The opposite huge difficulty is financials. Many small companies don’t all the time have the capital to do all these fantastic designs, have interaction an architect, or pay for allowing. We perceive their sources are restricted, and we have now to assume creatively about easy methods to maximize the aesthetics to satisfy their funds.”
Getting inventive additionally turned crucial when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and La Union Studio needed to pivot together with their purchasers. One in every of them is Phin Espresso, the Vietnamese coffeehouse that opened within the CID/Little Saigon in the summertime of 2020.
“Phin was our venture that acquired constructed out throughout COVID. The homeowners didn’t see it coming. We didn’t see it coming, however we had been in development throughout COVID,” stated Abenojar. “Our hearts exit to all of the enterprise homeowners that had been impacted. Every little thing from funds to transport points arose, however we persevered, and it’s so profitable proper now, and their espresso is nice!”
When requested about what’s subsequent for La Union Studio, Abenojar and Legon-Talamoni stated ultimately they need to scale up and tackle bigger initiatives with greater budgets. For now, they’re excited to be a part of serving to their hometown develop in a approach that embraces each range and design.
“Our upbringings and our ancestral historical past actually outlined how we present up on this planet and the way we present up for our purchasers,” stated Abenojar. “Actually, we simply attempt to be true to our identities as we try to determine all of it out.”
📸 Featured Picture: Sergio Max Legon-Talamoni (left) and Sonia Lynn-Abenojar (proper), cofounders of La Union Studio (Picture: Sam Fu and My Individuals Studios, courtesy of the Worldwide Examiner)
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