Juley Le, a mother and entrepreneur, is inspiring others to live lives of courage and balance with easygoing simplicity.
Photo: Michael Tucker
What are the spaces that most inspire you in this city?
Watching people from random places like coffee shops, the street car, bars, and even Jackson Square is my favorite way to observe the world. You can really get a sense of someone by how they treat people they randomly meet.
What motivated your headstrong approach into carving a space in entrepreneurship for yourself?
My parents’ journeys from Vietnam and their dedication to making lemonade out of lemons deeply inspires my entrepreneurship. Safe to say I inherited their work ethic and stubbornness. Despite their successes, however, I’ve always wanted to carve my own path – regardless of the student loan debt burden or how long it would take for me to figure things out (since the entrepreneurial road is riddled with self-doubt, heartaches, and long hours). Hopefully, one day it’ll pay off. Just like my parents, I do it all for my own little family.
Your blogging and influencer career brought you a lot of success. Did it motivate your move to owning a brick and mortar business or was it always something you had in mind?
I’ve dreamed of having my little piece of the New Orleans pie since watching the city operate at a bare minimum post Hurricane Katrina. There was always incredible potential and still is for people to create viable businesses that support the economy. I definitely leveraged my platforms and used social media as a marketing tool to get the word out for Drip Affogato Bar since it is, at the end of the day, a mom and pop shop that has limited advertising funds. Social media has been integral in getting the word out in addition to our regular visitors.
Have you faced any obstacles being a woman in business?
Fundraising is definitely the hardest part but there’s a growing scene of angel investors invested in women owned businesses. I hope to one day be an angel investor for future female entrepreneurs and to pay it forward.
“When I started out, I was focused on the wrong things and working with people who had conflicting values to my own. My immaturity and lack of focus caused me a lot of mental stress, time, and money but I wouldn’t take any of it back because they were lessons I needed to learn in order to do and be better.”
What is a piece of advice you'd give to aspiring female entrepreneurs / your younger self?
When I started out, I was focused on the wrong things and working with people who had conflicting values to my own. My immaturity and lack of focus caused me a lot of mental stress, time, and money – but I wouldn’t take any of it back because they were lessons I needed to learn in order to do and be better. I’m now able to navigate goals in a more practical and positive way. I would tell aspiring female entrepreneurs to take a deep dive into who they are and truly understand what motivates them, so they can put energy into businesses that bring out the best in them.
Balancing entrepreneurship, being a mom, and your existence as a person outside of those identities can be a world of endlessly spinning plates. What keeps you motivated and positive? How do you practice maintaining inner peace amidst the movement?
I think if you talk to any mom, new or seasoned, she’ll tell you that being a mother is one of the most profound, rewarding facets of her life. I couldn’t agree more and didn’t fully understand the superhuman powers it takes to balance it all until I became one. All it takes is seeing my son giggle and be in awe at the world around him (“look mom, the sky! trucks! shapes!”) on a daily basis to remain positive and grateful. For me, becoming his mom connected so many dots that I didn’t see before. Seeing the world through his eyes is just as exciting as taking risks on new ventures. All of it combined makes me feel like I have it all!
“I think if you talk to any mom, new or seasoned, she’ll tell you that being a mother is one of the most profound, rewarding facets of her life. I couldn’t agree more and didn’t fully understand the superhuman powers it takes to balance it all until I became one.”
Can you speak to motherhood in the South? What do you love about it? What are things we can all learn about the empowering space of being a mother?
I think there’s an unspoken language between women, even if she doesn’t have children. Some of the best women I know are maternal by how they take care of students, employees, peers, friends, and other people’s children. In that sense all children are their children. I like to think the South encourages this love of taking care of each other’s families as one’s own.