Born in Cambodia, raised in America – and now making waves in Bangkok
Alexia with Clutch.
When this lady walks into a room, people stop talking to watch and feel her presence: she knows how to make an entrance. A body that makes many of us envious, hair that could
make any hairdresser proud and always dressed like a fashion icon.
This is the essential Alexia Kay.
So who is this amazing person?
Alexia was born in Cambodia, but grew up in the United States. Both her parents are from Cambodia, but live in Boston, Massachusetts. Alexia has three older siblings, all married and living in the United States. The family left Cambodia after the civil war and arrived in the US in April, 1982.
She studied interior design at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Today she is a successful fashion designer.
Who or what inspired you to become a designer?
“A designer was not my first option. My parents wanted me to study to become a doctor or lawyer and they hoped I would attend an Ivy League School, such as Harvard or Brown University. Many in my family are doctors or lawyers.
“It’s common for Asian parents to choose a high paying profession for their children.
“I decided, after high school, that I wanted to become an interior designer, I wanted to follow my own path and not in my parents footsteps.
Currently, Alexia is living and working in Thailand and Cambodia. She mentions that the company is based in the United States and that she is here to oversee production.
She spends about 80% of her time in Bangkok and the other 20 % she travels, both for leisure and business. Alexia recently launched her first handbag collection with a charity show at the Dusit Thani hotel, with, among many models, former Miss Universe year 2005, Nathalie Glebova. Her exclusive and unique handbags and clutches. The bags are made of leather from Europe and Australia.
“As a former model, I wore many designers’ clothes, some I liked, and some I liked less. I mostly felt that something was missing.
“I decided to design a bag collection for “stay home moms” and business women. I talked to any women and all of them said, they had so little time to pick a suitable handbag, one for the daytime and one for after work. It’s often you have to go directly from work to attend a dinner, a concert or any other event. I came up with the idea, to make bags that you could change yourself in a very easy way.
“Most of the bags are in two different colors and you can play around with parts of the bag, give it a new look every time. It saves you time and hassle and you don’t have to carry two bags along, or run home to pick up the ‘after work’ bag. Today you can order Alexia’s bags online
www.Alexiakay.com. She also sells to retailers using sales agents.” Alexia is CEO of Alexia Kay and she is the ‘brand face’ of the company.
“I’m representing my brand with pride and the best of my ability,” she says. “I’m also the creative mind behind the designs; I meet up with potential clients and demonstrate the multi functionalities of the bags.”
What do you like about Thailand?
“I love the delicious food and of course the enjoyable, tropical weather. There are many beautiful cities to discover in Thailand, nice beaches and islands. You don’t get bored.”
What don’t you like?
“Like most foreigners and Thai people, she hates the traffic and pollution. “I miss being able to walk on a sidewalk without having to look down all the time, not getting trapped in an obstacle. I also don’t like to maneuver around the street vendors, but that has become a bit better, she adds. The motorbikes can be scary, especially when they decide to drive on the pavements to avoid the queues.
“I also don’t like to deal with crooked landlords. Most of us foreigners never get our rent deposits back and if we do, it always comes back in small portions. I wish there would be a law to protect us foreigners better. The landlords should get major fines for not returning deposits.”
What about doing business here?
“I think it’s very difficult to find a reputable factory. You always get to hear ‘yes, can do, we can do everything’ but unfortunately it’s seldom the truth. You ask for an apple and you get an orange. You don’t get responses to your emails or answers to your questions. The only time you will get a quick answer is when it’s time for payment.
“It’s also a huge problem to convince people to think out of the box, to do unique designs; they prefer to copy already existing designers.
“Our future plan is to expand to Europe, Australia and UEA and, of course, within Asia.”
If you could dress and provide any woman in the world with your handbag or clutch, who would you choose and what kind of outfit would you like seeing this woman wearing?
“Oh, I would pick a business woman and dress her in a classic business suit, for example, a long, beautiful and feminine blouse to wear over her trousers, a nice belt, and medium sized and added bangles. Like this she is ready for dinner or meeting up with friends after work. I would, for this particular woman, choose my reversible and interchangeable bag. The color depends on the color of her outfit. I would go for one of the 32 options colors that match her outfit.”
Is there any woman you really admire?
“From a business perspective, I admire Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Lopez. She is a great inspiration and a modern fashion icon.”
Where would you take either of these two to dinner in Bangkok?
“I think I would go for The House of Sathorn, owned and operated by the W Hotel. I pick this place because here you can enjoy an incredible dinner in a classy environment and it’s an iconic and historic building, which once housed the Russian embassy.”
Outspoken but with a kind of sensitivity, Alexia is someone we will hear much more of in the future, for sure.
Agneta de Bekassy.