Meet Ling Chan. She is the owner of La La Ling, a cutting-edge baby lifestyle boutique in Los Angeles that carries unique, fun and edgy fashion for babies and kids as well as modern nursery furniture. The store also offers language classes for babies and toddlers. Ling also created and runs the online boutique www.lalaling.com which has been regularly featured in InStyle, DailyCandy and other national press. Prior to children’s retail, Ling was a vice president of international marketing for Warner Bros. Pictures.
She lives in Beverly Hills, California with her husband and two sons (Finn, 5, and Ty, 3). They are all excitedly awaiting the birth of child number three this winter.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The thing I love best about my job is the creativity involved in owning and running a store…from the buying, to the merchandising, to the décor, to the window displays, to the website, to the latest promotion, to the hiring, to programming the classes…it’s endless how insanely stimulating it can be. I’m always on the hunt for the latest newest thing, whether it be in fashion, toys, books, classes, furniture…and it’s so rewarding to give a new designer a shot and then get a huge response. I also love the spontaneity of dealing with customers and forming instant “relationships”…it’s a fascinating human sociology study as every single person is different who walks in the door, and I love figuring out the best way to interact with that person! Sometimes you can tell a customer just wants to be pointed in the right direction and left alone to shop at their own speed while others want a lot of hand-holding and personal shopping services while others, say new moms, just love the environment and want to hang out and chat about their baby and the ups and downs of motherhood. I meet such interesting, vibrant people every day I’m at the store!
The worst things about this job are that because it’s my own business and every decision is my own, the blame for anything that doesn’t work or doesn’t get done falls completely on me. Whereas before, in the corporate world, every single decision or action was ruled by committee after committee so that many people were at fault and I didn’t take it so personally like I do now. But this can also be viewed in another way…the rewards are that much greater when it’s your own thing while the defeats are that much more painful when you run your own business!
Do you work exclusively in the office, exclusively from home or some combination? What are the pros and cons of your schedule?
I work both at the store and my home and no day is the same. Having come exclusively from a corporate background where flexibility was a rarity, being my own boss has been incredibly liberating as I can dictate my own schedule. It really is the ideal scenario for a working mom like me who wants to be part of a carpool at school and wants to go to all the t-ball practices. Right now, my kids are little so they still think I’m “cool” but pretty soon they will want nothing to do with me, so I’m savoring every moment I can with them. Plus, I’m an inherent night owl so most of my work gets done at home after my boys are in bed!