Our story begins in Warren
My husband Adam and I chose to build our life together and start our family in Warren because we knew that it was the best place to raise our four children. Warren is our home and the place where our shared story began. I first moved to Warren in 2003 as a college student and lived on Billette Drive with my older sister and brother-in-law. When Adam and I got engaged in 2010, we bought our first home on Linda Street. Our family has grown since then and we now live on Malvina Drive.
Adam and I are Hmong-American. The Hmong people are an ethnic minority group that over centuries, migrated from China into Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, often due to war and persecution. From 1959 to 1973, the Hmong in Laos were recruited by the United States government to help the US, as allies in the Vietnam War. My father, Vang Xiong, was about 17 years old when he was recruited as a Tactical Aircraft Maintenance specialist. Without any formal training, he replaced and filled U.S. fighter pilots with ammunition on the Long Cheng military airbase located in Xaisomboun Province, Laos. He, like many young Hmong boys and men fought to protect American soldiers and rescued downed American pilots. When the U.S pulled out of Laos in the late 1970s, my parents were forced to flee for their lives –swimming across the river in the middle of the night into neighboring Thailand. My family, like thousands of Hmong, were placed in refugee camps. Several years later, in December of 1984, my mother gave birth to me in the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Loei, Thailand.
In 1987, when I was three years old, my family was accepted into the United States under the refugee relocation program. We settled in Ohio, where my grandma had previously been relocated. My siblings and I spent many summers in Michigan visiting and spending time with our extended family in metro Detroit. The auto industry offered job opportunities for Hmong workers who often had no formal or post-secondary education and spoke very little English. Word spread of the manufacturing jobs and the Hmong community in Detroit and neighboring cities like Warren grew and attracted many members of our extended family, including my brother-in-laws and my sisters.
Adam’s parents, John Fong Kue and Mary Mao Ly, came to Detroit in 1976 and was one of the first known Hmong families to arrive in the area. Adam lived on Wasmund in Warren and, in 1996, he graduated from Fitzgerald High School. Adam started his studies at Macomb Community College but during his first year of college, his parents became ill. Shortly after their sudden death, Adam made the decision to leave his studies to work full time in the automotive industry as a Test Technician.
In 2003, I was accepted to the College for Creative Studies in Detroit to pursue my passion for art and design. I moved to Warren to live with my oldest sister and her family. My parents instilled in my siblings and me the importance of hard work and education. I supplemented my scholarships with part time work and student loans. During college, I interned at Campbell Ewald in Warren. I graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.
Adam and I met in 2008 and married in 2011. Our family quickly grew to include four beautiful, smart, and energetic children who are 2, 4, 6 and 8 years old.
Like many new moms, I quickly learned the challenges of managing the demands of a growing household. I temporarily put my career on hold so that I could be at home with my children. As a mom, our children are our number one priority and we want to provide everything we can for them to succeed. Making ends meet was hard and I periodically took on freelance graphic and web design jobs to supplement our income from Adam’s job.
I was determined to save money and pay off my student loan debt in order to secure a better future for my children.
In the process, I founded the company, Simple Coupon Deals, Inc., an online blog that teaches budget conscious moms like me how to shop smart and save money on groceries, household items and beauty products. Managing my own company allowed me to work from home while caring for my children. The business became a success –it now reaches over 200,000+ readers across different social media channels and I had the opportunity to create marketing campaigns for many major household brands. As both a small business owner and mother, I learned how to manage finances, operate a business and oversee a team of employees. By using my own simple budgeting strategy, we were able to pay off thousands of dollars in student loan debt.
In 2017, while pregnant with my fourth child, I started to design comfortable leggings and dresses to wear, and blankets and pillows to decorate our home. My designs were illustrated with vibrant colors and motifs inspired by traditional Hmong clothes and textiles. Using my web design and development background, I built an e-commerce store for the product line and called the brand, Mai&Co. The apparel, accessories and home decor line quickly grew its operation out of my home on Linda Street, and my husband and I decided that it was time to find a space to operate our new business! We did not want to leave our neighborhood and wanted to be close to home so we opened our storefront in August of 2019 at 8312 East 12 Mile Road in Warren.
I’ve learned first hand what it’s like to build a business from the ground up and how important supporting small businesses is in our community. While I’m a business owner, I’m also a mom who has had to support a family on a limited income. I understand the importance of a living wage and I will work to help lift the income of all families.
I’m now at a point in my life that I can give back and that is why I decided to run for public office to serve others and give back to the community that has given my family so much. I believe our community is a great place to raise a family, find a job, and grow a business. Together, we can make it even better.