Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Nguyen.
Hi Alex, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Believe it or not, the recipe for Hot Boi Chili Oil came to me in a dream. During peak quarantine, I wanted to make some chili oil for myself because I couldn’t find any that really peaked my interest at the supermarkets. I found a recipe online and tried making it, but unfortunately, it was not very good… I felt a little disappointed and took a nap and dreamt of golden chunks of fried garlic and shallots and immediately woke up to go straight into the kitchen and experiment.
Even though the first batches weren’t amazing, we still had friends and family telling me to start a business after they had tried the product. Since I’ve always wanted to start a business, I decided to give it a shot. Throughout the years of making chili oil, my team and I were able to perfect our recipe and make a name for ourselves. Besides making chili oil, I wanted this business to be a brand where we support and advocate values that we believe in – we started with Equal Justice Initiative to spread awareness and eventually, we donated to Stop AAPI Hate as well, so part of our identity is to use our platform to advocate for those orgs that dedicate to helping folks in need.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Honestly, it has not been a smooth road. My parents never wanted me to run a business. I even got flack from folks in my family for trying to run this business. They just didn’t understand that food is my passion and doing this business has allowed other passions of myself and put it altogether as a business owner. My dad even told me this business is worth nothing, haha! It’s strange because I come from a family of entrepreneurs, but because of how much hard work is required to run a business, they don’t want me to struggle. However, I would like to say that it would be nice to see how capable I am as a driven individual pursuing what I love. It made me come to the realization that I had to believe in myself in order for folks to see how dedicated I am to my career. The funny thing is that I’m currently in grad school now. I’m studying for an MBA degree at Santa Clara University with a concentration in Food Entrepreneurship. Never would I have thought that I would be able to pursue higher education. I really thank the friends that have supported me when I first started on this journey for sure. It just hits differently when family doesn’t see the value in a person.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
In terms of the start of my career, I tend to end up in various leadership roles, but it never generates money because I was mostly focused on building a community and helping folks. I started a Facebook group called Subtle Asian Mental Health back in 2018. My other creative outlets include photography where I did freelance often for Airbnb rentals and I directed a short film that had its AAPI festival runs in 2019-2020. After undergrad in 2018, I did a lot of local volunteer work with an organization called Vietnamese American Roundtable because I was trying understand myself as an Asian American with two identities that sometimes didn’t correlate with one another. However, volunteering at VAR gave me the opportunity to lead a rally called Viet 4 Biden in San Jose. It was such a rewarding and learning experience for me – especially organizing with folks who share the same vision and passion for political action.
Another initiative I’m working on is called Jasmine Market. Jasmine Market is a place where we can highlight and uplift young folks starting and owning businesses. It’s a collective of AAPI entrepreneurs, creatives, and artists going against the grain and based in the Bay Area, South Bay. We started this venture together with The Boba Plug (Dallas, TX and San Jose, CA) and it’s been such a gratifying experience to create a community in my local neighboring cities. I feel like everything is coming full circle with what I started off as a new graduate in 2018. So I hope this is something I can continue working on with my friends and building a community of like-minded creatives.
Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Risk taking is always going to be there, no matter what. I don’t think anyone can really predict the future, but I would say that if I feel like something is worth taking the risk after some careful consideration, then I say run with it with all the heart and grit. I was coming to a point in my life where I needed to do something for myself and not what my parents think. Every endeavor I did, my parents weren’t particularly happy about it, so Hot Boi Chili Oil has been a huge risk, but at the end of the day, it’s been extremely rewarding
- Original Hot Boi Chili Oil ($15)
- FIRE Hot Boi Chili Oil ($18)
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