Bear Syavong

Dr. Mitch Earleywine

Bear Syavong was born in a Thailand refugee camp on February 4th of 1979. Amongst the many hardships of the Vietnam War his parents waited, like so many from Laos, for their approval to relocate. Shortly after his birth his parents were approved to leave to the United States where their family will reside in the Chicagoland area for the next 38 years and counting.

Before the havoc of the Vietnam war changed everything, his parents grew up with many dreams and goals of a long life in Laos. His father was from the village of Savannahket, he grew up facing poverty throughout his life and was responsible for supporting his family from quite a young age. Bears Mother was a beautiful woman from the capital of Laos called Vientiane, she on the other hand grew up with a wealthy family who owned many acres of farmland.

Something many may not consider when thinking of the changes one would face with moving to a new country is just how massive the language barrier can be. Many individuals even close within Bears life may not know the origins of his name, ‘Bear’. His given name is Phonemongkhol Syavong, as you sound that out imagine being a child growing up with such a long name, let alone a name from a vastly different language. Teachers were never able to pronounce his birth name, and as he grew he was posed with the question, “What would you like your name to be?”. In 1985 his parents became U.S. Citizens. This was only after countless hours of hard work, balancing the tasks of functionally contributing to the working class, and literal English classes so they were fluent enough to speak and write the English language. As this process came to a close the time to choose a new name was dwindling. When asked it was pretty tough to pick, particularly as a child, what you would like to be called for the rest of your life. Though it was challenging at the time, it only made sense that his name was going to become Bear. Being a Chicago Bears fan, the 1985 Bears team won the Super Bowl Shuffle that year and with his nickname already being Bear, it just so happened to be a perfect fit to who he was and grew to become in his later years in life.

During his lifetime Bear has faced many challenges, growing up in the tough city of Elgin, IL his father had placed him into Kim’s Black Belt Taekwondo Academy. This was when Bear was 6 years old, here he started out a young student and with time he became the instructors help to teach classes for both adults and children. Then and there within the dojo walls his leadership skills began to take shape and contributed largely to the formation of who he was and where he dreamed of going. Bear pursued this path until the age of 17 where he began to enter the work force after graduating high school in a quick three and a half years. While everyone was in school during the final semester that he had worked so hard to earn off through early graduation, he used this opportunity to go and spend a month traveling across Thailand and Laos to visit family as well as to learn more of his ethnic roots.

Upon returning from his High School senior trip to Cancun, Bear brought back within himself a determination to continue to further his education. He stayed in his hometown where he took general education classes at Elgin Community College, and along the way he had completed his certification for HVAC (heating, ventilation, and Air Conditioning). With this new opportunity and the perspective of completing such a large goal he had, he decided he wanted to have some freedom in his life. He built a life on his own separate from his parents who were always pushing him, though they were pushing him to succeed he wanted the change to fully make his own decisions. He moved to live in Chicago where he then got a job opportunity with United Airlines at a Station Support Clerk on November 30th of 1998.

With many ambitions and growth of his fascination with airplanes, Bear worked hard to become a part of United Airlines Flight mentor program where he then enrolled at Lewis University to pursue an education to become a commercial Pilot. During the meantime while going to school full time, he also worked 6 days a week to meet full time requirements at his job. It wasn’t long before he got a promotion to become a Training Coordinator where his role was responsible for all the logistics and training for Pilots and Executives for United.

Through hard work and dedication Bear purchased his first home at the young age of 20, where he and his girlfriend at the time soon found out that she had become pregnant. With the transition into home ownership and the sudden surprise of pregnancy the couple was thrilled, but nervous to see what their future would hold. Quickly Bear was faced with many obstacles that he would have never imagined having to face at such a young age. Soon after the September 11th tragedy, Bear lost his job and shortly after dropped out of school. When he had thought everything in life was working in his favor he was thrown into a life of hardship, jumping from job to job. His employment record was broad, and he worked across many industries. He dabbled in everything from temp work welding and grinding spring boxes for locomotives, to working in call centers and sales floors, to cage cashiering for casinos. His resume included The Grand Victoria Casino, 92.3 Radio, Miner Enterprises, Fairway Financial, US Cellular, and US Bank, among many other enterprises. This truly goes to show how greatly varied work availability and applicability truly are, and how in the pursuit of a more desirable career path it is possible to reach a point doing what you love even if it takes time to get there.

It wasn’t until just a couple of years ago that it all became clear what Bear truly wanted to do with his life. He didn’t want to be a part of the corporate sales force anymore, he wanted to provide a service that would help families and communities to better understand medical cannabis. His own observations had shown time and time again that there was a great need for this incredibly useful yet under utilized element. Then and there Bear started to learn and research more about medical cannabis, everything that he could. He looked for information on the educational aspects as well as the physical and anecdotal health benefits he had seen and heard of for so long, all of it all. Bear then concluded that he wanted to have a company that would focus on helping individuals like some of his family members who would never consider consuming whole plant medical cannabis. It was then that Alternative Vibes, LLC became about. A company that would primarily provide CBD products via an E-commerce; one that would also provide many other relevant products including things like clothing, grow lights, vaporizers, and a host of other medical cannabis related products.

Bear brings many attributes to his company, and as the CEO of Alternative Vibes he has built a business based on a lifetime of experiences. He is driven by hard work and dedication to succeed in life, to have financial freedom from any burdens of today’s world. The accessibility should not be an issue with medicine or health, and he hopes that someday he will be able to touch many lives by providing safe access to families all across the world. With medical cannabis on his mind, Bear knows that many do not feel the same as he does and that many are also not be able to consume cannabis due to things like employer drug testing, child services concerns, or the desire to not get the “high” associated with marijuana use.

In pursuit of happiness for a better quality of living for all Bear has dedicated his life to the learning and education of how the medical cannabis industry can improve the way of life for his family, loved ones, and individuals worldwide.