ELLEN LEE

Owner,

Chong Hing Jewelers, San Gabriel

From: Hong Kong

When did you arrive in the United States and why did you come?

More than 50 years ago, as an international student when I was 20.

Did you intend to return to your native country at the time?

No, I started a family and business. 

Do you now?

With business growing and going strong in L.A., there’s no reason to move back.

Why did you start your business in the United States instead of your native country?

My husband and my family were already in the jewelry business for years, so when we met here, we decided to open our own jewelry store.

What’s the worst thing about starting and running a business in the United States?

Very high taxes and immigration policy changes impact business greatly.

What’s the best thing?

The sky is the limit here. People here are very nice and hard working.

Would you tell someone from your native land to start a business there or here?

Everyone is free to start a business here as long as they have the capital, the know-how and is willing to do whatever it takes to be successful – even during hard times.

What advice would you give someone from there about starting a business here?

Study the laws, regulations in your market and tax issues in-depth. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Any business they start, they need to be ready to provide the best products and best services. Customers are educated and they know what they want. It is critical to have long-term relationships. It is how our business grew and will continue to grow. We get to know our customers by their first names, know the names of their spouses, children and even birthdays. It’s not unusual for our staff to call our customers and congratulate them on birthdays, graduations or special events.

Do you go back often?

Yes, quite frequently for business trips to explore business opportunities. We actively study market trends and what’s hot in Asia. The global economy is very dynamic now with different regions impacting the U.S. market with different styles. Business owners must be very sensitive to what’s going on in the market here as well as the global market, especially in China or Asia.

Anything else?

We have the honor and opportunity to participate in many charitable events and sponsorships. We’ve been U.S. citizens for a long time and we actively contribute back to the community.

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