Kimphung Hoang Luong, who’s also known as Mimi is an adventurous, curious, 26 year old Vietnamese, American entrepreneur . She has always been infatuated with business concepts all her life and thirst to venture into the open world. To Kim, failure is a blessing in disguise to work harder and unfold bigger, better things in life.
Hello Kim, welcome to Startup Fortune. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? What’s your story?
Hello! Thank you for having me. My family immigrated to the USA in 1997, when I was only 3. I learned english and relearned Vietnamese. I can speak both fluently. I believe in working hard to achieve the American dream. We started over in America and my parents had to work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet. Their hard work created a flame inside of me and pushed me to become the entrepreneur that I am today. I graduated from University of South Alabama with a marketing degree and was offered a marketing job in Vietnam. I went back there and worked for their event planning department that they just added. I was able to work with representatives from Mazda, Honda, and national makeup brands in Vietnam.
I was able to learn a lot in the marketing and event field as well as the culture when I was there for 6 months. They wanted to renew my contract for 2 years, but I was not ready to live in another country that long so I declined and moved back to the US. My family decided to build a fancy nail salon and I ended up marketing and managing the salon. When covid hit and our business had to close. I steer towards ecommerce. I got into insurance, merchant services, and diamond business with partners. In my free time I love to travel and try many types of foods and drinks. I’m working on launching my own skincare company in the near future.
That’s wonderful. What inspired you to become a model?
Modeling was never something I imagine I would be doing as much now. I became more invested in modeling after my work experience in Vietnam. I was offered to model for various boutiques in Vietnam, and I took the job to make extra money for my fun travels outside of my marketing job. Modeling allowed me to become more expressive and fashionably daring outside of normal life. This has added more flavor to my creative side while working on marketing events. I now incorporate the modeling to keep my mind fresh and updated with the dynamic businessworld.
Can you please tell us more about your business ventures?
I have tried many business ventures and failed a good amount of times! However, each time I have gained a lot of knowledge and experience which fueled the businesswoman inside of me. My current ventures are merchant services, e-commerce diamonds, and skincare. I am working on my own skincare line for 2021. I hope my many failures will help me create that one big success.
How do you find life in the USA, being someone who’s migrated from Vietnam?
The language barrier presented the toughest challenge when I migrated to the USA at the age of 3. However, I was blessed to have guidance from caring teachers and friends, so I learned the language quickly. I ended up excelling in my English and grammar classes throughout my highschool and college years. I believe my parents struggled the most because they came over in their 30s and started everything from ground zero. Overall, I love it here because this is the land of opportunity as long as you work hard and never give up.
As a woman in business, did you face any difficulties when you were just getting started?
I believe the difficulties I have faced any gender would face going into new fields you have never tried. As a business person, you need to learn how to adapt quickly and efficiently. America has less of a glass ceiling than most countries, and I believe people would see that if they actually venture out of the American market. A lot of businesses now need to provide value to their consumers rather than making a sale. The focus needs to be tailored towards the consumers’ needs and wants for the business to thrive long term.
What was your biggest failure? What did you learn from this mistake/failure?
My biggest failure was collabing with friends and family. We trust the closest people to us to carry their weight and be dependable, but that is rarely the case in reality. I learned not to do business with close friends and family unless there is a contract involved and everyone knows their part.
How did COVID-19 impact your business?
My family owns one of the biggest nail salons in our area, and we were forced to close from April to late May. The rent is high and I had to figure out other options to keep my family afloat and be able to pay for the rent. Luckily, many online businesses offered work, so I took the opportunity to learn new skill sets. This was how I got into the merchant services and diamond business. Additionally, I have been able to focus more on my skincare line for 2021. Covid may have negatively affected one of my businesses, but it has given me more business opportunities in other sectors.
What are your goals and future plans?
The following is my 5 year plan:
- Launch my skincare line in 2021
- Invest into more stock and real estate
- Open my dream Boba Tea shop
- Retire my parents
- Acquire more connections and enter the Thai and Vietnam market by 2024-2025
What advice would you give to aspiring women who wish to become independent entrepreneurs?
Believe in yourself and be unique. When you are your authentic self, things will unfold effortlessly. Never allow other opinions to affect your choices and always strive for the best version of yourself.
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