10 Questions with Padma Rai
-written by Nat Richmond
Bridging the gap between Bhutanese culture and the City of Erie, Padma has become quite an inspirational voice and a beacon of leadership for those who are looking to feel a sense of belonging and share Bhutan roots. What's more important than even her work is her passion for it, the willingness to hold the torch and share the magic of her lineage with the community. From crafting fine cuisine at her restaurant, Annapurna Kitchen, to adorning fine fabrics with various gems under her clothing line, Gurung Fashion & Design, Padma has certainly found an outlet for expressing the energy of her home.
What are your origins? Where are you originally from? Describe the culture and Art scene.
Bhutanese, Originally from Nepal but my parents are from Bhutan. Resettled 2014 to the beautiful City Erie, PA. I found similar culture comparing to Nepali culture, a very welcoming and friendly. More opportunities and possibilities to establish polish our skills, whoever I meet and share my ideas to throw events or try to do something seek help, never told me you are new in America you can’t make it, you’ve got poor English. Everyone was supportive and direct me though their best knowledge.
How were you first introduced to Erie?
A very young who want to continue further educations(academic) as a refuge. By IOM.
What has been your experience with building a life in Erie?
I have a mix feelings, sometimes hard and sometimes easy to adopted new lifestyle.
What are you currently working on?
I own Annapurna Kitchen, serving Nepalese, Indian and Bhutanese dishes. Authentic home styled, wanted to share taste of Nepal to my new American friends. I found this is the best opportunity for me and my family to contribute promote and preserve our culture and traditions. Soon, I'm opening Gurung Fashion & Design, which is ethnic wear and also providing alteration services. I have two fashion designers, and I'm proud to introduce and encourage them to come join my business. I dream to have one casual wears manufacturing company.
What inspires you?
My confidence, confidence me saying “give a try if you fail you’ll learn, if you make it right is an achievement”. Make the mistakes, learn from it and never repeat the same mistake again.
How do you gain the most satisfaction through your businesses?
Seeing repeated costumers, directly interacting with costumers. Supportive residents and visitors from all over the USA.. their acceptance towards the food that we serve. Overall if our costumers are happy, I’m happy.
Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?
I have a dream to open one shop in downtown Erie, not sure about collaboration since the pandemic and high gas price hitting and is slowing businesses all over the county. I’ll take some time and better focus in on these two business, to provide better services.
What has been your impression of the Erie art scene so far?
Always positive and a lots of opportunities. Small city with great friends and family help you support in your journey.
What goals do you have for the next five years?
Boost/Establishing my babies Annapurna Kitchen and Gurung Fashion & Design, have my own manufacturers company in fashion business as well. Trust me I pray every morning.