Kim Chhay is an enthusiastic funny girl, unofficial life coach, wife, and mom.
Kim is short for Kim Lang, not Kimberly. While Kimberly is a beautiful name, it is not my name. I stopped using Lang as part of my name early in life because as a child it hurt too much to repeat it and pronounce it for others. Explaining my name felt like I had to explain my identity, which embarrassed me deeply. How I wish my 40-year-old self could go back to 4-year-old me and tell her how beautiful her name is. How worth it, it is to fight to be your authentic self.
I came to Canada with my parents when I was 4 years old as a refugee from Cambodia. We settled in Victoria, BC where my parents had the desire to assimilate fully into Canadian culture. This resulted in our family speaking more English than Khmer at home. While my parents benefited by having strong enough English to excel in their careers, I lost most of my Khmer and can barely keep up a conversation with them.
In 12th Grade, my Home Economics teacher told me I should apply for Kwantlen University’s Fashion Design and Technology Program because I shone in her sewing and design classes. However, I didn’t think a career in Fashion Design would be a responsible choice. I had my heart set on Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Victoria. After two semesters of not feeling engaged, I re-evaluated my vision and goals and enrolled in the Fashion Design Program at Kwantlen in Fall 2001.
During my second year in the fashion program, I began a part-time job at a start-up company. It was 2002, and Coastal Contacts was shipping contact lenses to people’s homes all over the world. There were many opportunities for growth and development. If you wanted to fix a process or implement a new system you had permission from the management to go ahead and try it. I started as a picker and packer and was soon promoted to Supervisor, and then Logistics Manager, finishing my tenure there as Transportation Manager.
Years earlier, when I had finished my Fashion Design Program, I wrote a goal down in my journal to work for a huge fashion company in 10 years. As I was grinding away in the contact lens business, I didn’t know how I’d ever achieve that goal. It was almost 10 years to the day; I signed my contract at lululemon with a role in supply chain. One of the most amazing full-circle moments of my life.
My life purpose isn’t just to be a supply chain professional though. My authentic true self is a storyteller, and I am here to tell my family’s stories of survival in Cambodia and Canada. I would not be here today if my family members hadn’t overcome what they did. I want to honor them and myself by sharing our experiences with the world.
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