We had the good fortune of connecting with Diana La and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Diana, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon but my parents are immigrants from Vietnam. My parents left their country, so my brother and I could have a better life and have better opportunities to be successful in life. My parents came to America after the journey of risking their lives as “boat people” and when they arrived, they literally had the clothes on their back and had to start over.

I grew up as an Asian American, who was guided by Asian values and believing that hard work pays off and to treat others with kindness. Even though we weren’t wealthy growing up, my parents made sure that we had everything we needed and they often gave back to the community and even taking in other Vietnamese immigrants in our home. Watching my parents work hard, giving back and pursuing higher education, while raising my brother and I — I also wanted to live my life like they did.

I graduated from the University of Oregon in 2008 and obtained a Master’s in International Studies as well as a Master’s in Business Administration. And was fortunate enough to also live abroad for a number of years. In those years, I was able to backpack throughout South East Asia and see how life could have been like for me, if my parents hadn’t fled their war struck country. I became even more grateful for my upbringing and wanted to give back to others in need.

Andie Bear is a passion project of mine, where we make any minimal profit off of our sales but what profit we have, along with our own funds, we have selected to donate money to orphanages in Vietnam, flood assistance in Vietnam, provided food to those in need in the beginning of the pandemic, provide face masks during the pandemic and also helping fund families who need financial assistance during their child’s cancer treatment. Although the amounts are not tremendous, we believe that giving back and helping others is what makes the world a beautiful place.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Andie Bear is my passion project, where my husband and I find time to operate in the evenings and weekends to work on Andie Bear. We love Andie Bear and hope that we are able to give back as much as we can (whether it’s giving out Andie Bears, face masks, food or financial assistance) and our intention is to help others, build a brand but not to profit off of it.

As for my day job, I am the COO of a digital marketing firm in Orange County .. and it took a lot of time, hard work, grit and patience to get where I am today. The challenges of a being a female and a minority are very real in the real world. But through higher education, traveling the world and my parents’ teachings, I feel like I was lucky enough to be able to navigate through all the adversities that work life has thrown at me.

I truly had to work harder to get to where I have gotten today.

Advice to the younger generation: study hard, work hard and play hard too. Life is all about balance .. and give back when you can.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Although my husband and I live in Orange County, you will often find us at the beach or in LA on most weekends to find the best food in LA.

We definitely would hit up the beach, go on a bike ride along the San Gabriel bike trail and head over to Korea Town for Jinsol’s amazing Gukbop, possibly stop by Milk+T in Little Tokyo for some top shelf boba, find a local Korean pub for some soju and close up the night with some Al Pastor tacos from the El Flaming taco truck off of Vermont. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The person who deserves the most credit for who I have become and for Andie Bear, is my mom – Thuy Nguyen.

In February of 2015, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer with metastasis to the brain. She has never touched a cigarette in her life and actually was a really healthy individual who ate well, exercised regularly, etc.. So, when she was given 18 months to live, the news was shocking, painful and heartbreaking to my family. And especially to myself because my mom has been my rock, my entire life and my also my biggest supporter. She is one of the kindest and most compassionate human beings that I have ever met — from taking refugee students into our own home when she was a high school teacher, to helping everyone and anyone in need, she has truly been an example of how to live life with grace, kindness and a reminder to always give back.

Over the past 6 years, my mom has gone through brain surgery, had numerous hospital stays, targeted Gamma Knife radiation and takes chemo in pill form. I am happy to share that she is still alive and still fighting this awful disease that has turned so many lives upside down. Though she is often tired, she still lives each day with purpose and still helps others in any way that she can.

I have lived in the hospital with my mom for 4-5 weeks at a time when she wasn’t doing well. I have felt the darkness that cancer casts on those who unfortunately get to experience it. I think about the fact that today could be her last day with us, every single day. And one day, I thought to myself, how awful it is for children who have to go through life having cancer, undergoing treatment, staying at the hospital on end for days. And it broke my heart.

So, I decided to start the #andiebeardrop project. With this project, we give Andie Bears to children who are fighting cancer or who have survived cancer. We often send Andie Bears directly to the children in the US and Canada and we have also had the opportunity to actually go to some children’s hospitals in California and Nevada and given Andie Bears to children in-person as well.

This project has been so rewarding in so many ways. On a personal level, it’s helped me cope with my mom fighting cancer and drives me to do good instead of moping in darkness. To see the way a kid’s face lights up when they see an Andie Bear is priceless. And even if that means they forget about the hard battle that they have to fight, even if it’s for a few minutes, it is totally worth it to me.

Website: www.andiebear.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andie.bear

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andiebearco

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