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One on One Interview with Voyage Denver Magazine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sohary Ouk.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Sohary. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Hi, I’m the founder and CEO of Flying Lotus Apparel. I began the idea of our clothing line, with a daily inconvenience. After work, running errands, and chaperoning our children to all their activities, I couldn’t wait to get home and take off my bra. Having four boys growing up in our home, I would swap out my day bra for a bralette and throw on my husband’s old tattered t-shirt. It wasn’t until the boys went to bed, that I could slip out of my bralette and let them free. My relief was short-lived – often the doorbell would ring with unexpected guests. Then, I’d run upstairs and get back into my uncomfortable day wear.

I knew two things: One, there must be a better way to enjoy braless freedom; and two, I was inspired to try something totally new: I wanted to create the solution to this problem! It took two years and lots of brainstorming (which was fun!), and hard work. I really wanted to ensure my product was made locally here in Colorado, USA, as that’s important to me. The fabric is knitted in Los Angeles, then shipped here, where we design and assemble the shirts. I chose darker fabrics and tailored it to have a loose fit. Its secret is a thin, non-constricting barrier that hides the nipples. I wanted to add another layer of disguise, by adding screen print on the front of the shirts with positive quotes. We also designed non-constricting leggings and capris, to complete the whole comfortable lounge feel. We are working on adding extra small, for preteen girls, and larger sizes also.

My intention is to empower women to feel comfortable inside and out. I believe when you feel good, you do good. Flying Lotus Apparel is made with 100% love. Women all around the world can now go braless, while still being modest. Join the braless movement, you’ll love the freedom.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It was hard to get people to understand my vision. Most manufacturers are owned by men, and they don’t understand the inconvenience of wearing a bra. After lots of frustration, I knew I had to talk to women owners or managers. Only until I found an all-women’s team, did things start coming together. I went through many prototypes, mixing and matching fabrics and material, trying to find a comfortable coverage for the nipples. Comfort for me means nothing clinging onto my body. I liked wearing my husband’s t-shirt, because it was loose, hid my nipples and unwanted rolls. I used those feels, as a model to design the shirt. My number one goal was to find a material and design to hide the nipples, then make it look feminine at the same time. That took a lot of trial and error and money. Having everything made here in the US is more costly, but I wanted to start that way because America gave me and my family many opportunities. We immigrated here after the Pol Pot regime, in 1981. It took two years for it to all come together. We launched on June 8 of this year.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Flying Lotus Apparel is innovative, creative, and mindful. We offer an exciting alternative to all the makeshift ways women has tried to go braless. All day long, women deal with wearing restrictive clothes that define their roles; employee, wife, mother, student, athlete, and more.

As I’ve traveled on my own journey in the ideation and creation of my brand, I grew beyond my personal experiences. My goals grew into beliefs that I could support other women who sought freedom from restrictive clothing; which actually represented a restriction on expressing who they really are. Flying Lotus Apparel allows a woman to celebrate their inner and outer beauty while enjoying complete freedom from wearing a bra.

What were you like growing up?
I am an only child, first generation in the US. I am Cambodian/American, born in Thailand, in the refugee camp. I didn’t have much of a childhood, because my parents did not speak and read English well. I had to step up to the plate at a young age. My Dad handed over the checkbook, to me when I was in 3rd grade. I was responsible for getting the bills paid on time. I was the translator at all the doctor’s appointments, bank transactions, basically any issue our family had. It wasn’t fun then, but I appreciate it now.

I look forward to summertime because that meant, I got to go stay with my Aunt in Colorado Springs until school started again. My Aunt married our sponsor, an American soldier that helped our family get out of the refugee camp. I love my Uncle, he was fun, smart, brave, and a hard worker. He taught me to be curious, tough, and adventurous. His family took me in and introduce me to the American culture. Homemade ice cream, fireworks, Santa Clause, Easter bunny, turkey, swimming, camping, treehouses, picnics, even a simple walk through the park. I loved it and I loved them! My parents were understandably always on survivor mode. If you are walking, you better be going to get something. You never do things just for the heck of it.

Sometimes, being stuck between two cultures was confusing, but I’m glad to have all those experiences today.