As a Vietnamese female entrepreneur, I am proud to have a platform where I can celebrate our stories with other women alike. I want to use my platform to bring us all together, to share stories, and to lift each other up - because we are all so similar in so many ways. My first interview with Brittany Tran was so much fun! I've since spoken with more powerful Vietnamese women that I’ve always admired. Here is my piece with Sandy Ho.
Coming from an Asian background, my parents wanted me to be a lawyer. Did you have similar pressure from your parents and how did you overcome that?
During my school years, I had a lot of pressure from my parents to perform well. Good grades were always rewarded but being an only daughter (I have two brothers), good grades didn't mean much if you weren't also diligently learning how to look after the family, cook, and clean.
It took me a long time rebelling against this but eventually, it came down to understanding that my parents were only doing their best. And as a result, I am really proud of my independence, strength, and work ethic.
How did you get started? Did you always know you wanted to do this career? If no, what was the path you were on before?
I've always been creative and have always loved using my hands. I used to dream of being a pop star. Another dream was to become a fashion designer. However, in the end, I landed a Fine Arts Degree.
While I was studying, I spent a lot of time in kitchens making extra money for art supplies. When I finished my degree I found myself more and more involved in the food world. One day I decided that it was what I would pursue. I was addicted to the energy of a kitchen in motion, chefs talk, tasting food, procuring produce, and long-lasting relationships with farmers. And naturally, it brought me closer to my parents, my heritage, and moments in the kitchen with my family.
A few years after my time in Australian restaurants, I wanted a change and bought a one-way ticket to Italy. I really took my time traveling and investing in my relationships with food makers around the world. This led me to experiences I thought I could only dream of... and the rest is history. I didn't look back and I landed in LA 4 years ago. It has been home since :)
What are some challenges you see as a woman, and being a person of color?
For a time and every so often now, I am second-guessed in my position or mistaken as an assistant. There have even been situations in which male peers undermine my work.
As disappointing as these moments are, things are certainly changing. And I am grateful for the experiences which have pushed me to build healthy boundaries and prioritize the respect I deserve for myself and my work.
Do you have any advice for other women/men that want to start their own business or be their own boss?
Do what you love, it is truly that simple. And treat everyone with kindness, the world is a small place.
As I got older, a lot of things my parents taught me now resonate - do you have anything that you've learned as a child that today you live by?
Anger isn't productive, call home, try everything once.
I’ve always fought my culture and wanted to be Western as I saw our culture's beliefs as so antiquity. Now as a mother, I am teaching my daughter about our heritage and also our language. How do you merge both cultures in your life today?
I find so much joy in standing as a Vietnamese woman doing exactly what I want. And that HAS to be the greatest form of resistance!
Personally, I'm unsure if merging cultures is really possible however I will say that the more we open ourselves to the world, to other cultures, to other traditions and simply by staying curious, we will be able to accept ourselves for who we are and embrace others for exactly who they are. Maybe then we will be able to see the world for what it is!