We had the good fortune of connecting with Gary Chau and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gary, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The most important factor behind the success of our brand is that it was created through the friendship of my best friend Mark and I. We are friends first before the business and wouldn’t do it without each other – The positive energy that is generated because we love what we do and that we get to do it together, makes it all worthwhile. This is how we have been able to thrive in a hyper-competitive business and city for the past 15 years, while also being local and independent.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve spent my entire working life starting and re-starting from the ground up, no matter which job I had at various brands such as Bombay Sapphire Gin, Grey Goose Vodka, Bacardi Rum, Tiffany, and Bijan Fragrances, before transitioning into my own company. Honestly, nothing ever came easily, but I think my parents provided the influence that good things come to those who work hard. So I feel fortunate that I have been able to progress into making a living doing something that I love in a company that is owned by myself and my best friend Mark. In the brands that I have worked for in the past, a key learning was to be genuine in yourself and what you do. This may sound cliche, but sometimes people forget about this virtue and focus only at the surface level about what makes a brand sound or look “sexy”. At it’s core, to me a brand is like a person, and there are values which you stand for. You need to be authentic to the world and to yourself, or people will see right through it. For example at Caffe Luxxe, we certainly try and build beautiful caffes that we think our customers will connect with emotionally; but at the heart of it all, we sustainably source our coffees at the farm level and build long standing relationships with our farmer partners. We then import those coffees to Los Angeles and carefully roast and package them in our own roastery which then get distributed to our own caffes and wholesale partners that we train ourselves. Everything from the farm to the cup of coffee in your hands is fully transparent and grown, picked, roasted, and crafted by a human being each step of the way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When people visit the area, I always like to share with them unusual places that they wouldn’t normally see on a typical tourist guide list and in many cases doesn’t cost anything except burning some calories! In Venice Beach, there are a collection of a few walking paths hidden amongst treelined streets near the famous Abbot Kinney Blvd. The small public paths are essentially in between the backyards of homes and you get to take a sneak peek into the beautiful and eclectic gardens and houses which made up the character of classic Venice life from the early 1900’s. One of those streets is called Nowita Place, and I’ll let you discover the rest since that’s half the fun. Did you ever think there would be a giant sand dune in the middle of Southern California? Walk the ridge line 600 feet up and make believe you’re on the set of Lawrence of Arabia! All you need to do is head east for a few hours towards the Mojave Desert and approach the Kelso Dunes which represents 45 square miles of soft powdery sand – Shoes optional. It’s a manageable 3 mile hike up and down. Pro tip: The sand dunes are constantly shifting from the wind, but look for the harder packed surfaces to help you traverse the climb more easily; you can tell from a glance where footsteps on the dune are deep or shallow – Go for shallow. And don’t forget to visit one of our seven caffes located in West LA to energize your day with some coffee and treats before your walk or hike!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Our success is about the great people who we get to work with everyday, and in our current pandemic environment, our front line baristas deserve a lot of the credit; their positive attitudes and smiling faces (behind their masks) makes us who we are. We couldn’t do this without them and have so much appreciation not only for the craft they create in every drink, but the warmth, care, and attention they share with all our caffe friends and family.
For the photo with Mark and myself standing in front of the roastery, Mark Wain is on the left and Gary Chau is on the right.