Name: Thanyathorn Chatlaong
Graduation year: 2014
Program: Postgraduate Diploma in International Hospitality Management
Current position: Co-owner, Chew Green
As co-owner of Chew Green, Les Roches alumna Thanyathorn Pear Chatlaong took her mother’s ‘Sun-soaked banana coins’ and turned them into a thriving business. In a classic alumni tale of combining passion with business knowledge, Chew Green now produces a variety of healthy organic ‘chews’ made from locally sourced ingredients.
Embracing challenges and building resilience
Managing stress and embracing challenges is part of the curriculum at Les Roches, this has served Thanyathorn well as co-owner of Chew Green. “We started Chew Green with sparkling eyes and very hopeful hearts – these two things are what have kept us overcoming every challenge all along”, she said. “As the business matures, there is always something we have to overcome or solve everyday – from finding the perfect raw materials to getting the process right and connecting with our first customer.”
What keeps us going is thinking about why we’re doing what we’re doing and how it can bring about something good for both ourselves and others.
Understanding market trends and adapting
While Thanyathorn’s mom’s recipe may be decades old, Chew Greens positioning of the product couldn’t be more zeitgeist, focusing on health and locally sourced organic ingredients. “We started Chew Green with a promise to make and source tasty food products that are healthy and worry-free. With that at the heart of what we do, getting the best quality raw ingredients is simply the most important thing”, Thanyathorn said.
“We go local with our ingredients because it means fresh and seasonal produces with naturally-optimum and geographically-specific tastes and textures. Also small-scale cultivation means that growers have time and resources to care and attend to the produces allowing them to craft the produces to the required quality.”
Building a network and supporting communities
A network is an essential part of any business, especially during the startup period. It’s why Les Roches students have access to network building opportunities throughout their program. Thanyathorn has used skills learned at Les Roches to give Chew Green a powerful supplier network that works for both her, and the wider business community.
“Going local with our ingredients allows us to be part of, and contribute to, a community of local growers who are passionate about crafting their produce the sustainable way. Not only does this support and promote more environmentally-friendly farming practices, but it also means developing a better livelihood for local growers as they become less dependent on the mass-scale industrial market.”
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance
When you run a business that trades on healthy lifestyles, it’s important to ensure the owners live the values of the brand. “As a student of Buddhist teachings, I find that practicing meditation and cultivation of the mind for a few minutes help a lot when things feel too overwhelming. When it comes to time management, I try to practice my skill in prioritizing between what is/is not important and what is/is not urgent”, Thanyathorn said.
For me, family and Buddhist practice take the overarching priorities, and are what have allowed me to better manage a work-life balance.
Entrepreneurial advice for students
“For me, what will keep you and your business going as an entrepreneur is the passion and vision you have when you first started your business. I think you have to be honest with yourself in whatever you do. Really think about the why and what-ifs before you start, so that there is no doubt in your mind as you face challenges. It also means you have a genuine story to engage your customers as well”, Thanyathorn said.