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

Hi Tansu, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Community engagement has been the most important factor behind the success of Viva La Boba. We are forever grateful to the local San Bernardino community for welcoming us with open arms! We try and host community events as often as possible, including (but not limited to) hosting fundraisers, displaying local BIPOC artist’s work monthly in our store, opening a Little Free Library, hosting art walks and open mic nights, park clean-ups, and more. We also purposefully have a lot of seating, available outlets, and strong wifi for customers to use, so community members feel they have a space to go to relax or study (unlike the local Starbucks, which purposefully removed outlets so people wouldn’t stay.) The ability to establish meaningful connections with our customers is what makes us different from Big Coffee!

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Viva La Boba is a community focused boba, tea and coffee shop in San Bernardino, CA. I was 23 when I opened the shop, an impulse decision after leaving a toxic work environment in the entertainment industry (that’s show business!) I had no idea what to expect, but figured opening my own business and failing was still a better option than enduring a job I hated. Obviously, I was taking a huge risk, and there’s a lot of privilege in being able to take risks like the one I took. I was lucky to have enough of a financial safety net that we could even get the doors open in the first place. However, our goal was not strictly to make money – we wanted to focus on ways we could give back to our community, so we could become a part of the local scene and give back to the people who were giving so much support to us.

So, we got to work! We opened a Little Free Library. We host fundraisers and art walks. We’re the meeting spot for the new Inland Empire Skate Night. We do park clean ups. We help raise money for local artists to paint murals on the buildings that surround us. We pay our employees a fair and livable wage. We donate drinks to local organizations. We work with local non profits to open community spaces, including a garden and park.

What I’m most proud of is us putting our money where our mouth is, and making community engagement such a core value of the Viva La Boba brand. It’s one thing to serve delicious, unique, globally inspired drinks – it’s another to serve them to customers we have meaningful connections with.

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?
San Bernardino is a super fun place to visit! Obviously, you’ll have to stop by Viva La Boba for a delicious Abuelita Cold Brew or Mermaid Milk Tea. But there are so many other fabulous small businesses, right in the Downtown Breezeway, that are must-visits.

The Little Gallery of San Bernardino is kitty corner to Viva La Boba, and worth a visit. They always have new and exciting exhibits from artists all over the world.

Grounded Self Care is a woman of color owned small business that “trains BIPOC Healers to provide authentic experiences that cultivate healing, human connection & transformative moments.” It’s a great place to take a restorative class.

Right next door to Grounded is Creative Grounds, a community based art studio that works with local artists.

Opposite both of these businesses, in the alleyway, is a community planted garden wall sponsored by Viva La Boba and the non profit organization SistersWe. The SistersWe use the power of plants and community gardens to promote community pride.

After exploring the breezeway area, it’s time to hop in the car for a short drive to I Love Chicken and Waffles. They have delicious chicken, waffles, and mac and cheese! Got a vegetarian in your group? Head over to Happy Family Vegetarian – it’s Chinese food, but completely vegetarian (and delicious.)

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would love to shout out my partner in both this business and in life, David Friedman, for always supporting me and helping make my dreams a reality. I would also like to thank the #Startwith8Hollywood Program and Women of Color Unite for making opportunities like these available to me and so many other deserving, underrepresented women.

Website: www.tansuphilip.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tansuphilip

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tlphilip

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TansuPhilip

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/viva-la-boba-san-bernardino

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.