We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Ching and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
1. THINKING OF A BRAND NAME 2. SCREEN PRINTING ON T-SHIRTS 3. TAKING PICTURES OF MODELS IN OUR SHIRTS 4. POSTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA 5. SELLING PRODUCTS ON E-COMMERCE These were the beginning stages of my thought process on starting my own business! I had always worn other brands such as The Hundreds, Stussy, Obey, etc. because I thought they were super cool and they always have dope T-shirt designs. I would buy most of my shirts at Zumiez, and remember thinking how amazing it would be if I had my own brand and message selling in a shop like this. I wanted to start my own clothing brand because I love graphic design, and I wanted to go to college for it. Although, I did feel the pressure from my family to do something else with my life, that they felt might benefit me more. You see, my mom is a nurse, and her dream was for me to become one as well. She felt that I could design as a hobby, and not full-time. I ended up graduating from the University of Nevada, in Las Vegas with a bachelor’s in hospitality management. Who’d a thunk it? But even so, I couldn’t deny that my heart was inspired to create. When I realized this, it was then that I decided to start my own clothing business. I called it “Obstacle.” At the time, the name made sense. Because, it was also when I was dealing with quite possibly, the biggest obstacle in my life. I was working on coming out to my parents, as a gay woman. Not knowing how they would react, or how they would respond, I decided that it was now or never. I went for it, and the outcome was far better than expected. Rocky, but we got through it together. “Obstacle” stuck with me, but I then changed it to “Obstacle Illusion”. Why you ask? Because I know now, what I did not know then… No obstacle is too difficult to overcome. The obstacle is just an illusion if you can just see past it, and decide to overcome it. Starting a business is an extension of yourself through your craft, and it creates a space where people can relate. Not knowing how difficult the business aspect was going to be, I only saw the fun parts of it. It was fun, but it did NOT come easy. While designing and seeing others in the community wear our products, it gave us a sense of purpose. This made it all worth it. It has definitely been a learning process. To see the growth of your company, and to see how involved you become with your community, shows the true beauty of it all.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I currently am a food server at The Cheesecake Factory. I have been there for about 6 years and started as a baker/cashier. Remembering about 34 different cheesecakes with unique ingredients. Once I have learned the 21 page menu with 250 different food items, I then moved up to a food runner. I did food running for about a year because I was too scared to become a food server thinking it was very hard to do. I eventually took that risk and became a server. I would consider myself shy when it comes to new people. We get new guests each time we get a new table and it has seriously helped me with my social skills and talking to others professionally. Im glad that I started where I did because I got to learn each department to help me provide my guests with the best customer dining experience they have. I want the world to know that owning your own business you have to learn and do all the positions at first. You are the designer, the printer, the market director, the salesperson, the spokesperson, the expediter, an all around player. I think that is what makes a great business. Learning along the way and experiencing these small situations to prepare you for bigger and better ones to come.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting we would go to Skinny Fats to eat for breakfast. They have mimosas to drink and I just love how they have a healthy side on the menu and an unhealthy side depending on what we are craving. The Ahi Tacos are bomb and ohhh I am craving them right now. Then, we would go to the lazy river at the Mandalay pool, float on our floaties with the weather around 85 degrees and just catch up on our lives at the moment and high school memories. We just want to relax with great company. After, we would freshen up from the pool and go to the Linq and ride the high roller because the view from up there is beautiful around 5pm. You can see all of Las Vegas city and the lights everywhere. Taking in that who would thought moving from Hawaii you would actually live in Las Vegas. Then, we would watch a Golden Knights hockey game because I love and play ice hockey and the Golden Knights are in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The ambiance in that arena is such an experience and everyone cheering Vegas on. Gosh, that was only 1 day. After the game we would get some Pho to eat at Pho Saigon 8 getting eggs rolls and pho with rare steak or brisket with veggies on the side. The rest of the days she is here we would go hiking at Mount Charleston called Cathedral Rock because the view is gorgeous. The mountains are high and deep, but if we go early the sun is just shining so beautifully. Get some exercise in to also look forward to eating after. The hike will take us about 2-3 hours then we are going to eat all you can eat sushi at Yama sushi. Can’t say no to some delicious sushi that you can get as much shrimp tempura and sushi rolls til you are so full. Even when get full we still have room for green tea ice cream or mochi ice cream. To then, calling it a day to go home and relax to watch Harry Potter. Eating delicious food spots is our type of vacation and the best time ever. No stress, no obligations, just chillen!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate this shoutout to my parents. For raising me and taking care of our family. They moved from the Philippines to Honolulu, Hawaii to make a better life for my older sister and I. They worked very hard to pay for private school tuition from elementary to college for both of us, because our education was important to them. My mom was working long nights in the hospital in critical care and also running her own business. Since my mom worked odd hours, my dad would always make sure to be there for anything we ever needed, and never forgot to nurture our growth. He would take us girls to school and to all of our extra curricular activities. He even did our pony tails in the morning before school. You don’t see the struggle till you actually have to live it. Pay for your own bills, work long nights, and have a rainy day fund. They instilled in us so many wonderful values. Because of them we know how to lead happy healthy lives in our own way. Also, I want to shoutout my long life partner, Claudia Flores. We have been together for 6 years and she has seen all the ups and downs. She goes to all our pop-up events to help set up, talk to customers, and break down. Claudia is a great observer and listener and she loves the growth I have made personally. The efforts put forth in growing this small business have been a journey. It’s not always wins! I must say she has seen the losses. I want to thank her for always being there especially in tough situations. Most importantly all of our family, friends, and returning customers who have supported our clothing business throughout the years. They have been with us on this journey. It may be slow and steady, but we love the process and the people we connect with along the way.
Ricardo Carrera: Photographer Alicia Velez: Model Noah Puaala: Model Claudia Flores: Partner Lolita Ching: Mother Fred Ching: Father