This month, we’re excited to team up with owners of Whittier’s very own, Local Fixture, Jason and David Chung — Local Fixture is a rad retail shop and coffee bar designed to bring the community together by offering an array of unique products, premium coffee and the friendliest customer service this side of the equator.
LF is DBN’s exclusive local retail partner. It is the only place in the LA area you can shop top DBN styles in person.
DBN headquarters is right across the street from LF and we visit them almost every day. For real. (Their hot teas and lemon bars are crazzzy good!) We sat down with Jason & David to learn a little more about them. With years of owning their own business under their belt, Jason & David know exactly what it takes to make a small business successful. They shared with us about the importance of community, how to hustle hard and what inspires them.
Hi guys! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up?
Jason: We both were born in Hong Kong but moved to the U.S. in 84’ and then we grew up in Claremont. David went to UCLA and I went to USC, the better school (ha!). I moved to Whittier after I married my wife so our family lives in Whittier now.
When you were just out of HS, what did you think your future career would be?
David: We didn’t know at all. I think it’s pretty fair to say that life isn’t permanent. Things are always changing and evolving. I don’t even think 10 years ago, when we started this business, that we knew we would be where we are now.
We know you previously ran a successful handbag ecommerce site. Now you own and operate our favorite General Store - Local Fixture. How did Local Fixture come about as the next step in your career?
Jason: We were doing handbags for about 10 years. We got to a point where it started to become really competitive. Especially with all the big name stores like Nordstrom. Trying to compete with those guys was getting harder and harder. When my wife and I got married and moved to Whittier we saw an opportunity to open up a local business. We saw that there were great restaurants and shops in but not many great retail stores. We would go to Pasadena and even all the way to Venice to visit the really cool retail shops. There was nothing like that around here so I thought, why not? I thought, why should we have to travel so far when we could open up something in our own community. So far, the community has reacted very well to the store.
We think it’s safe to say that Local Fixture is Whittier’s favorite go to spot. A place where people can go for a cup of coffee and of course some really neat buys. Why do you think people gravitate to LF?
David: I honestly think it’s our staff. I think our staff does a fantastic job of making people feel at home. They just provide a great energy and people enjoy being around them. People feel good when they’re here and I credit our staff for many of the good things that are happening in our store.
Local Fixture carries some really cool brands! What made you want to partner with our brand?
Jason: I think it was initially meeting Brent and Veronica in the very beginning and learning about what dude. be nice was all about. Then we started watching the videos and we were just blown away by what DBN was doing and the message you guys are sending. It’s just a great message! I mean, c’mon, dude. be nice! It’s simple.
David: It’s clearly aligned with what we believe in and what we try to do with the store which is, create kindness. It was a very natural partnership that developed and one that we’re very fortunate to have.
We read in your blog that, “Community is everything.” Why is community so important to you?
Jason: The city of Whittier has a great community - I think it’s important to build a relationship with our community. It’s great to have a space where everyone can come together. We wanted to create something that’s not just a store but a place where people can go and just hang out. We really didn’t even have the coffee shop in mind when we decided to open up the store. We actually had couches and chairs out for people to relax on. I think as the business progressed we thought it would be cool to create a coffee shop within the store and have it become a hangout place for people to come and chat, relax or have meetings.
David: I also think as the world becomes more connected online there’s sort of this effort to go back to that old school real life connection where people can meet face to face. All the online social media stuff is great but people also want personal connection and so it’s nice to have a space where people can do that. We even have events in our store and at the coffee bar and it’s just cool to see people show up for that - to see so many people who enjoy the same things come together in one place.
We love Whittier, especially, Uptown. Why do you love Whittier?
(People walking by saying, “Hey guys, how are you?”)
Jason: (Responds, “Hi, we’re doing good. See you guys later!” Looks at me and says...) That’s why we love Whittier. Being able to come in everyday and see those familiar faces is what community is all about.
David: It’s a special place. There aren’t many places with such an eclectic mix of people with all different types of stories and experiences. They’re all here and that’s cool.
Are you working on any cool projects right now?
Jason: There’s always something brewing but right now we’re just getting all of our ducks in a row and getting our space organized.
David: Our creative juices are always flowing!
What are you looking forward to in 2017? What are some personal and professional goals?
Jason: Growing Local Fixture, of course. I think it’s also important to find that balance between work and family. Although, the people that work here are like family. I really want to find that balance of being at home with my wife and kids and working. We have that family atmosphere at LF and my kids are here visiting me all the time but it would be nice to figure out that work/home life balance.
David: I actually just got engaged so I look forward to getting married this year. Professionally? Seeing how we can improve LF, figuring out what other things we can offer to the community, who else can we network with and just continuing to do what we’re doing.
What artists, ideas, places, or books are most exciting/inspiring to you right now?
Jason: I love design, interior design and retail design. I go to a lot of trade shows and get a lot of inspiration from trade shows, the people I meet there and the fancy showrooms I see.
David: What about that podcast we were listening to?
Jason: Oh yeah, we were actually listening to a great podcast on our way to a trade show. It was called, How it Was Made, or something like that. It was basically about...
David: ...Well, who did they interview? They interviewed the CEO of Patagonia and the CEO of Southwest. They interview people who are not only creative business people but very principled human beings who have a greater vision of not only doing business but also people who have interesting views on the world. Stuff like that definitely inspires us.
People have lots of different opinions about the word “nice”. What does ‘nice’ mean to you?
David & Jason: Kindness, empathy, and compassion for ourselves and others. We need it right now more than ever!
Just like you, we’re a small but fast growing business. What advice or tips would you give young people looking to start their own creative project or branch out on their own? What do you wish you’d known when you were first starting out?
Jason: I would say to always keep learning. Never stop learning. I’m always out there reading different books and blogs or listening to speakers on podcasts. Doing that keeps you in the know of everything that’s happening.
David: Continue to be curious and learn from your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to fail. Take risks! Of course you want to be smart about the risks you take but at the same time don’t be afraid to take them. In the end if you don’t get what you wanted what you did get was a really good lesson and that’s usually even more valuable than success sometimes. I think you have to know when to pivot. I think you have to know when something’s run it’s course and change direction before that something has run it’s course. There has certainly been times when we got too comfortable in one thing and maybe it went a certain way for too long instead of us realizing we should of pivoted in a different direction. It’s okay though because we learned from those times and are aware now.
What does success mean to you?
Jason: I think success for me is not just about profit. It goes back to bringing people together and building that community. Being creative and doing something I love.I honestly look forward to coming to work everyday. Of course, balancing it all and being able to spend time with family is part of that.
David: I would say to love and be loved. To know you’re enough and have enough. I think it’s something many of us work on everyday but I think if we all got there the world would be a lot more beautiful.
Our brand is all about connecting people. What is one way you feel that your work connects people?
Jason: One way our store connects people is definitely over our coffee bar. Getting a coffee, some pastries and just hanging out. We see people come in, grab coffee and just hang out all day. Meeting new people, getting to know who our neighbors are and building those relationships has been really great.
Get down to Local Fixture asap. Pick up some DBN styles and shop a ton of other cool products for home, men, women and kids. Grab a matcha green tea latte and chill in their coffee bar. You might run into David and Jason! (You might even run into us.)