Our Favorite Things, which opened in June, arose from the talents of artisans within La Jolla’s very own community, including the shop’s 17-year-old owner Emily Nguyen, a senior at The Bishop’s School.
After the young entrepreneur met an outpouring of support for her handcrafted scarves, bracelets, headbands and doggie bandanas at La Jolla’s weekly farmers market, she figured she would take the leap and try her hand at business ownership.
“The farmers market went well, so I thought maybe I could try to get a storefront and see how that goes,” she said. “And at the farmers market, I met a lot of local artisans and vendors too, so I support a lot of their stuff here. I try to carry handmade things to make it unique and support the locals.”
Nguyen attributes her needlework talents to her grandmother, Thu Dang, who she says is the true master at her craft.
“Ever since I was little, I would watch her. She’s a master at sewing. She can sew anything,” Nguyen said. “I remember when I was little, we would sew PJs and stuff together, so I’ve been doing this for a while.”
In fact, all the members of the Nguyen household pitch in their talents for the family venture. Nguyen’s younger sister, Megan, helps create handicrafts and jewelry, while dad Tan helped file the legal documentation to launch the business and mom Elizabeth Dang mans the store when Nguyen is in school.
“My family is very supportive,” she said. “It’s hard. I have to get here as soon as I can. It’s convenient because I have a free period at the end of the day, so I just come right out and work here. I often do my homework at the store.”
Although time management is certainly a challenge for the full-time high school student and business owner, taking care of the legalities of owning a business was even more difficult, she said.
“That was really hard because I’m not 18 yet and don’t have a bachelor’s degree,” she said. “The pre-planning process took a few months — maybe six months — to get all of the stuff together while I was also going to school. That was the hardest part.”
One of the easiest and most rewarding aspects of business ownership, however, is giving back to those less fortunate through partnerships with nonprofit organizations and charities in the community, she said.
“Some friends of mine started a nonprofit organization this year, so I’m selling some of their bracelets, and the profits from those bracelets go back to different social ventures in the countries the products came from,” she said.
Additionally, a portion of profits from some of the doggie bandana and pet accessory sales go to the Humane Society, and another partnership with fellow farmer market artisan, Tami Shreves, owner of Vintage ’n’ Virtue, assists in recovery efforts at a home for women and children.
“This holiday, I’m going to bring over some scarves and headbands to give as gifts there,” she said. “It’s something cool I can do since I own a business and I make these things. I should do something to give back.”
Our Favorite Things is located at 7514 Girard Ave. Ste. 4. Store hours are Mondays through Fridays, noon to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit www.emilysfavoritethings.com or call (858) 224-2476.