arrowenvelopefacebookinstagramlinked-intwitteryelpyoutube

Lead With Pride: Stacey Kwong of MILK+T

MILK+T crashed into the Los Angeles boba scene in December of 2015 and owners Stacy Kwong and Beyah del Mundo haven’t taken their feet off the gas pedals ever since. Literally. Starting off as a food truck that would pop up and create lines around the block, the duo cultivated a powerful buzz through social media and traditional word of mouth before finally opening up their first brick and mortar self-serve shop in Little Tokyo in 2017.

Featuring a wide variety of milk based beverages (with or without dairy), coffees, and teas, guests can customize to their heart’s desire––even if that means adding a scoop of ice cream to the mix!

In between sips and virtually learning how to make our own boba drinks at home, we caught up with Stacey to not only learn more about the business, but to chat about all things COVID-19 and Pride.

Tell us a little bit about your business: How’d you come up with the concept and the name?
Ever since high school, I always wanted to open up my own business. It wasn’t until college where my best friend Shirley had to do a Business 101 project and come up with a business concept. She asked me to proofread one of her projects and it ended up being self-serve boba. I absolutely fell in love with the idea and she let me have it! Senior year of college, I wrote the business plan and came up with its name: MILK+T!

Photos from MILK+T’s Las Vegas Yelp page.

What does Pride Month mean to you and your business?
At all three of our locations, we hang pride flags to not only show our pride but to let people know that all are welcome. Pride month is one of the most amazing things to witness—especially in Downtown LA. Everyone here has so much pride and we’re lucky to be a part of it! Being part of the LGBTQ+ community, it gives me a lot of joy and comfort seeing people be themselves.

How have you pivoted your business to adapt to COVID-19?
On the night Mayor Eric Garcetti announced closures, we suddenly had the idea to do boba kits—a kit that customers can take home and learn how to make boba themselves. It’d be a great activity for them and something fun for families as well! It was instantly a success and soon after, other shops had taken up the idea too. We’re blessed to be able to say that because of that, we’ve been able to pay our rent, our utilities, and continue to pay our employees!

With COVID-19, how do you continue to engage with your customers and community online and offline?
When the closures first happened, we made sure to implement strict health guidelines for our team right away. We communicated to our customers about our new rules and guidelines that were to ensure our customers and our team stayed safe. We got rid of our self-serve concept and no longer accepted refills. We keep all of our social media up to date and engage with customers on those platforms as well.

Photos from MILK+T’s LA Yelp page.

What are some of your favorite LGBTQ+ owned/operated businesses or brands?
Dingle Berries Coffee and Tea in Rosemead, CA and Kinda Fit Kinda Fat Apparel.

What’s one of your most popular items and how can people get it (locally or from across the country?)
Our boba kits have become a very popular item since launching it. We ship nationwide to all 50 states with free shipping on orders over $100. Go to milkandt.com/shop to see what we currently have!

Photos from MILK+T’s Beaverton Yelp page.

Need more boba in your life? Be sure to check out MILK+T’s locations in Los Angeles, Beaverton, and Las Vegas or visit their website for a list of things that can be shipped to your doorstep today! Want to find ways to support LGBTQ+ businesses across North America? Check out Yelp’s Virtual Pride Bazaar, follow Collections of LGBTQ+  and Open to All businesses in your favorite cities, or check out our post on the Yelp blog for additional resources!