IN STOCK is a feature where we highlight one of our #pfstockists, learning all about the shop, its inspiration & how P.F. Candle Co. fits on the shelves.
We teamed up with East Fork Supply Co., one of our first ever stockists, to bring you a special edition of IN STOCK. Chhun, owner of the Santa Ana, California men's clothing shop, is the nose behind Breaking Trail and the connection that made our limited Irish Whiskey scent come to life! East Fork's a pretty big deal at P.F. HQ, and we're letting you know why.
Hey Chhun! Let our readers know a bit about yourself. Who are you?
Creator. Builder. Philanthropist. Award-winning graphic designer. But most of all, I’m grateful and determined. I’m passionate about building things, be it physical things or ideas like a brand. I never imagined in a million years I’d be where I’m at now. I’m just some kid born in the Killing Fields of Cambodia who got out, busted my butt, caught a few breaks, met some great people, and, with the support of family and friends, I am where I am. I worked at a couple of design agencies and freelanced for a lot of clients before I opened up East Fork. Aside from the year I worked selling sneakers back in college, I had no retail experience. It was a little daunting to open up the shop, but what I did have to make up for that lack of experience was being creative and good at branding. I was able put my all of the experience from my agency days and freelance clients to use for myself, build my own brand. Isn’t that the American dream? I don’t believe in luck but I do consider myself lucky.
What are your hobbies? How do they inspire/relate to your shop?
East Fork Supply Co. is based around my lifestyle, philosophies and interests, so the things that I’m into are integrated into the shop. My love for design, art, photography, motorcycles, the outdoors -- they’re all a part of it. I bring that interest in an authentic way, which people gravitate towards. I can talk to people about any of those topics so in depth because they’re a part of who I am. One person can walk in and I can chat with them about which motorcycle they should get as a new rider, I may talk to the next one about backpacking the John Muir Trail and with someone else, I might discuss the differences between Helvetica and Futura. The only thing I haven’t really figured out how to incorporate into the store is my deep commitment to helping the community and the world. I’ll donate stuff for raffle prizes for fundraising events for organizations that I feel are doing great work, but haven’t found a way to fully incorporate philanthropy into the store itself. Yet.
Three things you're super interested in lately:
1. Doing good and being a positive influence: I’m on the board of directors of a non-profit.
2. Books. I recently read the Motivation Manifesto by Brendan Burchard and The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho and I'm reading a few others currently.
3. Audio books. I just listened to Mastery by Robert Greene and Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters.
4. Retro synth (not 100% sure what the genre is called but it’s something like that). Wait, that was four things!
When was East Fork Supply opened?
September 7, 2012. I remember that day vividly. I also remember staying up till 3AM the night before and feeling like I wasn’t ready. But then again, who’s ever really ready?
What inspired you to open the shop?
Well, mostly, I found myself with this awesome space. There was an opportunity to be in this great space so I took it. I didn’t decide on what I would do with the space until later. When I did come up with what I wanted to do with it, I thought it would be a great chance to merge the things I love into one thing. There wasn’t any type of ah-ha moment or epiphany that inspired me to open the shop. I know, a little anti-climactic.
How does Santa Ana/Orange County play a part in the shop’s identity?
I’ve often gotten the question of how the store got its name. One of the major factors was its location, it’s right where the 5 and 57 freeways fork off from the 22. Aside from that, small, well-curated boutiques aren’t nearly as abundant in Orange County as they are in other places like LA, especially men’s shops. So I set out to create a really good men’s shop. There also wasn’t much going on in terms of regular bike meet-ups in the area so, with Black Top Society, we created one.
What goes into the process of curating the shop and choosing what you carry?
There’s a few things I consider first. I keep an eye out for certain categories or certain things within a category that’s missing, and also products I use or would want to use. Then, ideally, the brand would be a small company, locally based and made locally as well. I can’t always find those things but I try to check as many of those on that list as possible. Then I get the product and test it. I use it, wear it or in some cases (like beard products) I give it to other people to test and get feedback. The product has to be well made and high quality, after all, I have to put my name on it as the place where the customer bought it from. Bottom line is that I treat my customers the way I would want to be treated. Part of that means making sure that there’s trust that whatever they buy is high quality and made responsibly. Additionally, the brand, along with the product itself has to align with my ethics and perspective, both on a business and social level, on how things should be done. People spend their hard earned money here, they should have the peace of mind that they’re spending it wisely. At the end of the day, I make sure it’s a store that I would want to shop in myself.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a retail owner?
Community. The people have been the most rewarding part of owning this business. I’ve met so many interesting people ranging from magicians, brewers, motorcycle racers, TV personalities, artists, city councilmen and of course, other business owners. I’m part of all these different communities and groups of people. Not only am I a part of the community where the shop is physically located, but also other business owners in the city, owners of similar men’s shops, and the communities of things I’m interested in like motorcycling, the outdoors and the arts. I’ve also created a community of my own, one that revolves around the store. There have been a number of people who have become friends through the events held here and I’m happy to have had a small part in being that catalyst.
Do you have any advice to those dreaming of one day opening their own shop?
Take risks. Have a vision of what you want it to be. Take advantage of your network of people and ask them for their help, most of them are more than willing to. There’s other nitty gritty stuff but those are the big things. I would say to also have passion for what you’re doing and be determined but I think those are par for the course. If you don’t even have those things, you should question why you want to do it. I mean, why bother? If you’re passionate and determined, you’ll seek out knowledge, go the extra mile and be persistent. Aside from coffee, passion is what’ll fuel you at 2 or 3 in the morning to keep doing what you’re doing. Lastly, it’s okay to fail. Fear of failure can’t paralyze you so much so that you don’t take any risks.
What do you look for in new hires/team members?
I’ve only had a few people work for me and they’ve shared some common things. First and foremost, they have to have great character, they have to be a person I want around the shop and in my life. I approach it the way I would with much of the store in that, I am very picky and get a good sense of who they are before making a decision. They also have to be into the lifestyle I’m into so they can talk about much of the things that’s in the store. A huge reason customers like the store is because of personal attention and product knowledge.
How did you find out about P.F. Candle Co.?
Patchwork Long Beach. I remember it very clearly. The first time I had met Kristen, it was at Patchwork and I bought one of her book safes. Much later on, when I decided to open my shop, I thought those booksafes would be a great product in the shop so I contacted her to carry them. She sold them to me, but also made a plug for her new candles. And back then, it was still called Pommes Frites and I was maybe the second or third retailer to carry the line. I thought to myself, “candles in a men’s shop?” I really didn’t think it would do well but I agreed to bring them in on consignment and now it’s one of the best selling brands in the shop.
Why did you decide to make P.F. part of your shop?
It’s a great product. I didn’t realize it at the time because I didn’t know anything about candles, but the price was great for a soy candle, the scents were on point, the customers loved them and on top of all that, it’s a small operation that’s locally made and owned by two awesome people: Kristen and Tom. Supporting small businesses run by great people like P.F. Candle Co. is very important to me.
And lastly, do you have a favorite scent?
Of course, the completely unbiased answer would be, Breaking Trail. What’s not to love about this candle inspired by my hike on the John Muir Trail? 😉
Shop Breaking Trail
Any events going on at the shop this year?
We host a meet-up on the second Saturday of each month. We call it Coffee + Donuts and have our friends at Black Top Society serve up coffee and get donuts from a local donut shop. People come to hang out, ride out and mingle with other like-minded folks. We also do art/photography shows, local group hikes of varying difficulty and are planning more events for the warmer times of the year.
Thanks so much to the East Fork team for being such a big part of P.F. Candle Co.! Keep up with EFSCo.'s latest events on Instagram, Facebook, or stop by the shop at 133 E. City Place Drive, Santa Ana, CA 92705