Character Study: Guiding Lights

We heard a lot about Las Vegas’ economic miseries during the election campaign, but here, on a dirt corner near Blue Diamond Road and Rainbow Boulevard, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and powered by the battery of an SUV. If you’re driving by, let off the gas pedal a bit and look closely. See that? It’s 16-year-old Andrew Choudhry. He’s using the SUV’s dome light as a flashlight, interlocking tessellation-like shapes to form a sphere. The woman standing outside the SUV? That’s his mother, Marie, and she’s adjusting a dozen or so orbs that are suspended from a canopy frame. The orbs are handcrafted, made of semi-opaque plastic, and come in three sizes. And they’re glowing thanks to power from the family vehicle’s battery.

Welcome to the Choudhry family’s display room. The Choudhrys—Andrew, Marie and patriarch Ricky—set up shop here Friday through Sunday. Their business is lamps. Not the nightstand or living-room kind, but rather illuminated “electrospheres” that double as art—a modern chandelier, if you will. Sometimes the hues pay homage to our neon heritage. Sometimes they’re contrasting colors of a favorite sports team. Even all white makes an impact on passing motorists, several of whom pull over to take a peek and, maybe, make a purchase.

“I was in my [native] Pakistan, and I used to do those spheres with cardboard,” says Ricky, a floral designer for 17 years. A return visit to his homeland sparked a new idea: He decided to switch from cardboard to PVC, and soon enough he had a surprise business venture. Initially, the creative process was painstaking, as Ricky would have to cut the plastic that forms the electrosphere with a pair of scissors. He’s since invested in a die-cut machine.

“Somebody from [local morning radio show] Mark & Mercedes came by and bought something,” Marie says. “They were talking about it on the radio, so a lot of people know [about us] now.” From time to time, police have stopped by at corners the Choudhrys have worked, “just to make sure everything is OK,” Ricky says.

“They bought some from us. They were so happy; they loved it.”

The price tag on the electrospheres ranges from $20 to $35, and Ricky says business has been booming since he first set up shop last December—so much so that he’s had to hire extra hands. “I have two more people who are selling for me now, and I’m [working] as a wholesaler as well. The response is amazing!” Score one for economic prosperity.

Originally published in Vegas Seven.

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