Prolonged shutdown of some businesses during the early days of pandemic has led to new opportunities and new areas of growth for a few.
28-year-old Ashley Poaipuni was a dental assistant at a clinic in Bellevue before COVID-19 pandemic shut down her office in early 2020. Poaipuni’s dual income household was reduced to a single income, and she was forced to think outside the box and find ways to make money.
This was when a casual conversation with her fiancé one night led to a business idea. Poaipuni had made a lot of lumpias — Filipino egg rolls — with her parents while growing up and remembered that they were always a big hit at every family event. So she experimented with a business idea by posting an advertisement in the Klahanie community Facebook page. She did not have high expectations.
“I thought I would actually get one or two orders,” said Poaipuni.
Instead, multiple orders and great feedback came in. Thus, her business, All Things Lumpia, was born.
Encouraged by the positive response and high demand, Poaipuni expanded her menu and customer reach in the following months. Besides the typical beef and pork lumpias, her menu now includes six savory, and one sweet, varieties of lumpia fillings, including chicken, vegetable and banana. She also added Pancit, a type of Filipino stir-fried noodles. She began taking orders from customers as far as Everett and Snoqualmie Ridge.
All Things Lumpia typically delivers four to five large orders (for parties of 25 or more) per month, and about 24 to 28 small and medium orders.
While Poaipuni constantly receives new customers or inquiries from them, more than 50% of her orders are from returning customers. She handles most of the work on her own, with occasional help from her fiancé with the deliveries. On an average day, she spends about three to four hours on her business, doing tasks such as cooking, cleaning, shopping for ingredients, managing finances and delivery.
According to Poaipuni, doing things in bulk is key to time management. She makes her lumpias in bulk and freezes them for up to a week. Shopping in bulk also helps her save time and money. With customers as far away as Carnation, Duvall, Snoqualmie, and Everett, she tries to combine the delivery window of orders going to same areas if possible.
Poaipuni believes that compared to other cities, Sammamish has room for more diversity in available food options. In February 2019, her family of four had moved to Sammamish because it was a warm and safe place to raise their children.
She is ready to give back to the community. She does not have any plans of returning to her old job of as a dental assistant. Instead, she wants to devote her energy towards serving Filipino food, and she recently started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a food truck.
“I do want to bring more cultural diversity in the area. You know, there’s no Filipino food out this way,” said Poaipuni.