Meet a Maker: Pangshua Riley
What are the three qualities that got you to where you are today?
Resilience, hope, and belonging. These three characters sum up the people, things, and places that have become a significant part of the journey to getting to this place.
What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?
My earliest memory of dreaming of a career was to be a teacher or shop owner. My childhood best friend and I would always pretend to teach invisible students, and write a bunch of stuff on the chalkboard. When we weren’t teaching, we were running a shop and working retail. We would draw fake bills on paper too. Such sweet memories!
What inspired you to start doing what you do now?
I have always loved making things with my hands. So while I was in a season of rediscovering things I enjoyed and learning new crafts, I landed on making earrings (and never looked back since)!
Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
I would like to say I have a muse or specific method but I don’t. I have a great privilege of moving city to city in this season, and one of the things I love most is being able to buy my materials from local shop owners. I take this potpourri of gems and just let the creativity flow. It feels a lot like abstract painting -- I’m feeling my way through the creative process.
Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
Milwaukee. I would say interesting because it has a city vibe but a small-town feel. I was fortunate to have stayed in Milwaukee for a couple of months. It was intriguing to see a city working toward restoration and rebuilding. Above all that, it was inspiring to see millennials and young professionals be highly engaged in that goal.
If you were home on a rainy Sunday afternoon, what movie would you most want to see on television?
I’m really having to think through this one because my first instinct would be to grab a book, turn on a podcast or rewatch a show. I like movies but have never really been captivated by one. Although, a childhood favorite is the Sound of Music.
What’s your favorite time of the day?
Early evening or late at night. I’m most alive in the evening. My creative energy has always been at its best at night for some reason.
What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
I’d love to do more metalwork, creating things from molds to pouring, soldering, torching!
What skill would you like to master?
I’ve always wanted to learn the proper sewing and dressmaking basics. Such an important life skill!
What are some small things that make your day better?
Good coffee, quiet time, watching the sunset, a home-cooked meal, encouraging prayer, and laughter with my husband!
If you got a free check for $5,000, how would you use it?
I had to think a while on this one. What would I really do? I would like to invest it back into lue + riley, to help scale my business and brand. All in all, the fruit of that investment would give me a greater capacity to continue supporting other women and nonprofits that align with our mission.
Who inspires you to be better?
There are a number of people who inspire me. My parents inspire me to care deeply for others. My husband inspires me to be unapologetically me. Oprah inspires me to lift others. Maya Angelou, to write. My brother Lue, to live with intention. Just to name a few.
What’s one thing that you are exceptionally good at?
Seeing the silver lining
What’s one thing that you are epically bad at?
In this season, it’s text messages. (Hides face, haha.)
If you could compete in an Olympic sport, what would it be?
Figure skating. It was my favorite sport to watch as a little girl. I loved seeing Michelle Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi on the ice!
What’s a favorite book of yours?
Driven by Eternity by John Bevere. It’s really challenged me to check my intentions--what am I really living for.
What do you like most about where you currently live?
Right now, I’m in Illinois. This slower-paced season is a breath of fresh air. It feels isolating but wild. Almost consecrated and set apart. So I am embracing the anonymity and solitude that I’m experiencing here.
If you could live in a foreign place, where would it be?
Too many places to name… and dream of. I love the ideas of India, Hong Kong, Dubai or Seoul.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Make a list of all the things you want to see happen in your life. Believe that you can do these things. Dare to fight for it. Live with intention.
What change would you like to see in the Hmong culture?
Women's empowerment and equality.
What is your favorite thing about being Hmong?
The power of community. I have yet to experience anything like it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
The only major goal I have is to see lue + riley be a nationally recognized brand. To see the reach of it be more than adorning women with jewelry, but adorning their hearts with truth and empowerment. Dreaming of incorporating more writing, community, and retreats.
photo by Jade Chiu Photography