Women in Business: Ivy Nguyen, '18

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Name: Ivy Nguyen

Hometown: Hanoi, Vietnam

Year/Major: Majoring in Business Administration with a specialization in Entrepreneurship and a minor in Graphic Design. Graduating in December, 2018. 



Her Campus American University: What inspired you to choose to go to AU and choose your major and minor?

Ivy Nguyen: I picked AU because I wanted to be in D.C. because my dad was working here. So out of the three major universities in D.C., I liked AU the most and applied early decision. In terms of my major, I knew I wanted to do something in the entrepreneurship field because I started my company when I was 14 years old, so I knew I was going to do something in business. But I felt like it wasn’t enough for me to just do business, because I’m also an art person, which is why I signed up for a graphic design minor.


HCAU: Tell me about your company, Reckless Clothing Vietnam. How did you start it, and what inspired you to start your own company at such a young age?

IN:  When I was around 13 years old I started to look around in my market and I realized it was missing something. It was missing the type of expressive clothing that I would want to wear, and that I saw everywhere else that was not in Vietnam. So that gave me the idea of starting my own business and starting a brand that is geared toward expressive clothing, rather than what already exists in the market- kind of a different approach to clothing. I was 13 years old and my parents wanted me to go to class and not be distracted doing other things. I asked them if I could start a business and have some seed money, and they said no, you have to pay attention in school…which is exactly what I didn’t do. I started collecting my allowance and saving up, and I used that as my seed money. At first the model of my business was a bit different from what it is now- it was more geared towards customers ordering clothes and then I would order the clothes from the manufacturer, so it was more safe than having things in stock. So I got profit from that as well and saved up- it was a small business that I started with my friend before starting my own clothing store. And after I felt like I had enough money to open an actual store of my own, I invested that money into my clothing store and it was the best decision I’ve made in my life.



The success of my company I did not expect. I think it was 99.9% luck- I came into the market at the right time. In entrepreneurship class you learn that timing is everything, and I feel like I just happened to be lucky enough to be in the market at that time so that it picked up. I was gaining 1000 followers a month for two years, which is insane to me. And now of course it has slowed down because I went to college and couldn’t take care of it as much as I wanted to, and more stores similar to my kind of store entered the market. I had no experiences in business, so I thought “oh whatever, I’ll just leave it here for now and my customers will still like my clothes”. But I started to notice a decrease in followers and it was a huge learning curve for me. Everything I did for my business was based on what I thought was true, which is not always the case. And I was a 14 year old kid! I was literally a child, I didn’t know what I was doing. So that’s why it was a huge learning curve for me to realize you actually have to take care of it and put a lot of work into it. 2017 was my year to fix my mistake of thinking everything was going to be fine, so I spent a lot of time making my business better and re-branding myself. So that’s where I am now- it’s growing again and everything is going great.


HCAU: Where do you see your business going after you graduate?

IN: The thing about my store is that because I’ve been gone for so long, it has taken a direction that I didn’t plan for it to take. I wanted it to be geared towards something that I would wear, but now I see it going in a different direction towards middle and high-schoolers, with more colors (because I only wear black and white). I don’t want to force it to go another direction; I want it to continue going in the direction that it’s going. Even though my customer base isn't growing as much as before, I still have a lot of loyal customers that I want to serve and keep happy. This is great, because in my opinion, slow and steady wins the race!

I am actually in the process of planning a new business that is more geared toward what I like, and what I envisioned Reckless Clothing to be when I was 14 years old. But for now, I want Reckless to go the direction that it is currently going, and of course, the further it goes, the better.



HCAU: What else are you involved with on campus?

IN: My biggest involvement is with Alpha Kappa Psi, the professional business fraternity on campus. I rushed and pledged a year ago, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I’ve learned so much from it- it gave me a bunch of skills that I knew I needed, and for me, it was a safe environment to fail. It was a real-life simulation, but if you failed or messed up, it was okay. The two biggest things that I learned were time management and public speaking skills, and I’m so glad that I did it.

Other than that, I’m involved in Delta Kappa Alpha, which is the professional cinema fraternity. Similarly, it’s a great organization with so many artistic and like-minded people who are driven. I’m a new member so I don’t have that many experiences yet, but people are so friendly and creative. They care a lot about philanthropy and about each other, so it’s a great environment.

I’m also VP Marketing of the Entrepreneurship Club at AU and I’m a TA for Business 1.0. I’ve been a TA ever since the first semester of my sophomore year and it’s my favorite thing ever. I love being a resource and a mentor for all of my students and I’m very passionate about it.




HCAU: What is your dream job?

IN: My dream job is to be a serial entrepreneur. I see myself in that scrappy environment of being on my own schedule, not having a boss telling me when I should wake up, like a 9-5 schedule; that’s not my thing at all. I would prefer to sleep when I want to sleep, work when I want to work, and have three sleepless nights if needed and then pass out for the next week. I just really like being in charge of my own time and using my own time to my benefit.


HCAU: What advice do you have for other young women who are aspiring entrepreneurs?

IN: If you want to start a business and you think that it’s not possible, you need to stop that thought right away. If you have the passion and the drive to achieve something, you can do it, and you need to continuously tell yourself that you can do it. Don’t say “Oh but I don’t have time, oh but I’m a college student”- you will make the time if you’re passionate about it. And continue to be ambitious and dream big!



Photo Credit: All photos belong to Ivy Nguyen