PITTSBURG, Kan. — Over thirty years ago, Sooki Fields came to America from South Korea with dreams of experiencing what the United States had to offer.
She attended Texas A & M for a number of years before moving to Pittsburg with her husband and has spent much of her life since building and running small businesses. That includes some in Pittsburg, earning her a spot as a 2021 Woman of Distinction from the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We don’t have things like this in Korea,” Fields said. “I don’t really know why I got it, but I’m honored and I’m happy.”
After moving to Pittsburg, nearly 20 years ago, where her husband and Pittsburg City Commissioner Larry Fields is from, she now runs the Frisco Event Center, a popular special events venue housed in a refurbished rail-company building in downtown Pittsburg which opened in 2017.
“We do lots of events like weddings and baby showers, anniversaries and birthday parties,” she says. “We also can do like a celebration of life, which is really sad, but also good that we have a place for family to gather.”
Frisco is just one of the many small business ventures Fields has embarked on. Others include a “fashion business” in Texas and tire store in the Louisburg area. Although, Fields says each have had varying levels of success, she loves owning and running her own business.
“I think [owning a small business] gives you more opportunities to better yourself,” Fields says. “It gives you so much more experience in dealing with other people and it gives you more knowledge on how to take care of yourself.”
However, Fields says 2020 was a hard year for her as a business owner, with Frisco’s numbers being down 70 percent compared to 2019.
“We’re okay. We’re here, we’re surviving, we’re going to survive,” Fields said. “We’re looking forward to hopefully a better year since the vaccine came out.”
But “small business owner” isn't the only impressive thing on her resume. Fields is also an accomplished quilt maker and is a member of the Little Balkans Quilt Guild, where she helps make quilts for various community efforts.
Fields also like to help Little Balkans Quilt Guild when it is in need of donations of community quilts, she said. She donates her skills to creating quilts for charity events including Quilts of Valor, which makes and donates quilts to veterans of the U.S. Armed Services.
“Last year or the year before, I donated two quilts to two different veterans that served in World War II,” she says. “They’ve both since passed away, but I’m happy I got to do that for them.”
Fields says she’s probably made close to 200 quilts since 2011, but she rarely keeps them for herself.
“I actually don’t have many,” she said. “I give all of them out.”
Fields says she loved the designs she can create while quilting and is glad she has the time to devote to her hobby.
“I just love the piece work,” she says. “I mean we don’t do that in Korea, so I just fell in love with some of the patterns.”
Reflecting on being named a 2021 Woman of Distinction, Fields says she is very honored to be recognized and says she never thought she would be here.
“When I was younger, my dream was to be a housewife,” she says. “I never thought I would be coming to the United States and be a businesswoman.”
Looking back on her life in America, where she has spent over half of her life, Fields says she came here because she believed in what America stood for.
“Back then we believed in ‘the land of opportunity’, the United States of America,” Fields said. “I hope it still is.”