Sunshine Jewelry, Inc. was birthed out of sheer determination.
No glitz, no glam, There was no other way.
Our parents grew up in Cambodia, where the dirt was red and soft and life was good. Everything changed when the Khmer Rouge war started in 1975 and families and friends were torn apart and life as they knew it vanished before their eyes. Our family went from being middle class to being stripped of everything they owned. Forced into hard labor, the days and nights were long, and our mom longed for moments of joy and to be reunited with her family. In 1978 our parents wed in an arranged marriage by the Khmer soldiers and though they didn’t know each other, there was a feeling of peace, that they would no longer have to endure the war alone. The war ended in 1979, but the country, as well as our family, still suffered from the devastation.
Life was still challenging for our parents. They couldn’t afford much and without speaking English, there was a huge language barrier. Our mom took on a second job at a Chinese restaurant while us kids stayed with the neighbors. After years of working, our parents decided to open a Chinese take-out in 1992, since our dad really enjoyed cooking. They began to make a better living but worked 7 days a week from 10 am to 11 pm. We didn’t get to see much of them and were mostly raised by our grandmother. Our brother Michael was born, which brought great joy, but after only one month, he was diagnosed with diabetes which posed significant challenges to his development and it pained our mom that her job took her away from caring for him.
In 1999 an opportunity presented itself, our uncle, a goldsmith, asked my mom if she wanted to partner and open a jewelry store with him. Although our mom knew nothing about jewelry she had the funds to help and saw it as a way to have more time with her children. Sunshine Jewelry was opened that year. Our parents saw the jewelry store as a fresh start for the family. The opportunity allowed them to put their kids to bed at night, eat dinner together as a family, and all the other things they’d missed out on in the years before. They poured all the savings they had into the business as there were no other options except to make it a success. And that they did. They focused on providing the best service they knew and creating the highest quality jewelry.
Over time, Sunshine has become known as the place to go during weekends, where families gather and share stories of their journey to America. The place to purchase jewelry to commemorate life’s important moments. For my sister and me, hearing about our parent’s struggles fuels us with passion and determination to make Sunshine Jewelry a brand known worldwide, in order to honor the struggles, to make them proud, and continue the legacy they worked so hard to build. There is no other way, but forward and the path there is forged out of love.