Walanya Vongsvirates is head of corporate marketing for Full House Resorts, a casino and hospitality management company that operates in five states. But when she’s not working at her corporate headquarters, Vongsvirates, 27, is an artist and jewelry designer who runs her wellness business, Love, Hand and Heart (lovehandandheart.com), showcasing her penchant for bold styles and bright, bold colors.
Born in Massachusetts, Vongsvirates grew up in Las Vegas and graduated from UNR, where she majored in journalism and minored in psychology. Her background in media helps her navigate the world of marketing, run her own business and define her brand. the Weekly caught up with Vongsvirates to talk about her roles in business and art, and how she balances the two.
How did you get into marketing?I have always been a multi-passionate person, and when entering university, I tried to find a direction that combined my skills. I wanted to spread positivity and use my creative skills as much as possible but in a meaningful way, so I chose journalism. I originally wanted to be a news anchor, but [media] can be very heavy and negative, so I turned to marketing to use those skills in a different way.
How do you balance your full-time job with your work as an independent business owner? It’s apparently very different, but I feel like I’m better at what I do in both areas by having these two to bounce off of. At Full House Resorts I started as a social media manager and slowly expanded into marketing with a focus on branding. It’s a very fulfilling job, and while I was able to do some creative things, I started having fun with the craft stitching and embroidery. One day, I said to myself that I really miss playing with Play-Doh. I used to do this when I was a kid and did ceramics when I was younger. So I thought, what’s a good adult equivalent? I discovered polymer clay and started making [earrings] to have fun.
It was practical and therapeutic, and I started making them because it’s my favorite piece of jewelry. They’re a great conversation starter, they draw attention to a person’s face, and that’s really embedded in the brand that I’ve created. It can boost your self-confidence and help you look your best. I fell in love with it. I had accumulated too many for myself and my friends didn’t want new earrings every week (laughs), so I thought, maybe I could start this as a business.
You first sold your earrings to Fergusons Downtown. How did it happen? Fergusons had just opened, and I had been to Market in the Alley. I always like to get involved in communities and I like to see the joy [my earrings] bring to people. Appearing at Market in the Alley was a fun way to connect with people and see what appealed to them.
You incorporate big bright colors into your jewelry. Why is this part of Love, Hand and Heart’s signature style? I really like the color. It’s a simple way to put a smile on your face, and color and fashion are an easy way to change your mood or boost your confidence. I am very determined with my use of color. [If I’m speaking in public] I will specifically put on a color that makes me feel confident and happy. I think there are psychological benefits to that, especially with the year we’ve had. We just need to embrace all the simple pleasures, and for me, adding color is a really simple way to do that.
You recently hosted a digital event called Not Asian Enough, Not American Enough, which discussed the Asian American experience, including the recent increase in hate crimes. Why was it important for you to do this? For so long, those struggles were toned down — they were told it didn’t matter, it was just a joke, it didn’t matter. … As a community, that bubble kind of burst, and all of a sudden it seems like a lot of us have realized how it’s affected us and how much pain it’s caused us. Whether it’s physical or emotional pain, it’s real. It’s really helped me to take that and allow me to create conversations and make real change with it – that’s what inspired me to talk about these things.
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