Today we’d like to introduce you to Linda Nguyen.
Linda, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve always been unconventional. I refused to pursue the traditional educational and career route that is expected from Asian families as my heart has always been in fashion, beauty and entrepreneurship. Graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, I began my career as a Fashion Stylist and Makeup Artist working on music videos, editorials and catalogs in LA. Soon my family’s disappointment and lack of understanding of my career path began to wear down on me. Being so young, their lack of support impeded on my self-confidence. I returned to OC to give traditional career options a shot before landing in healthcare after a friend saw potential in me although I had zero experience in the industry. I spent eight good years in Provider Relations there and saw an opportunity for a new chapter when the company sold.
Fashion was always a passion and I wanted to give entrepreneurship a shot. As an avid consignment shopper, I opened my own consignment business specializing in pre-owned luxury goods. Unfortunately a few years ago, I encountered a huge setback. An entrusted business partner ended up being a con artist who embezzled from my company. Then I suffered several burglaries forcing me to shut down my brick-and-mortar out of fear for my own safety. I am now partnered with another company to handle my clients.
I spent several years rebuilding what I lost financially. I had two options – drown in my sorrows or cry a good cry before picking myself back up to move forward. I chose the latter. The hardest part of the entire experience was knowing my daughter was watching what was happening to our family as I never wanted her to see her mother hit rock bottom and then dig my way out of it. The silver lining is that I taught her that resilience to adversity is possible. To distract myself from my situation, I dove into community work after a few community leaders jumped in to give me opportunities to become more prominent in the non-profit world. I never had any agenda other than to remain occupied and to give back, even at a time when I didn’t have much to give other than my time. I stayed in my lane and contributed at my own pace while others took notice of my abilities.
Fast forward, I have served on the board of the Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce (VACOC), as an ambassador for Filipino American Chamber of Commerce (FACCOC) and assisted Korean American Chamber of Commerce (KACCOC) with coordinating their Asian Business Expo. I now serve as President-Elect of the Asian Business Association of Orange County (ABAOC), on the board of the National Association of Asian American Professionals in Orange County (NAAAP OC) and as Co-Executive Director of OC Drive in addition to serving on committees to promote Namgyal Monastery OC (the Dalai Lama’s personal monastery) and Vietnamese Golf Alliance of Southern California (VGA SoCal). Non-profits I support include Girls Inc., Operation Be Kind, Orange County United Way and Goodwill of Orange County.
Has it been a smooth road?
Success is NEVER a straight path. Although I stayed in my lane when possible, there were times where I was knocked off course when I least expected it. It could have been a post on social media that had no ill intentions yet it was misconstrued, photos taken at an event with local politicians that suddenly made me affiliated with a particular party, there were haters who managed to find negativity in the charitable projects I was involved in, and there were those who simply didn’t see my viewpoint in wanting to move our community forward and uplift them into a better light. Many found comfort in the status quo and the way things have always been done. I like pushing boundaries inch by inch. I’m willing to try something new and take calculated risks.
While 2017-2019 were my years of “Yes” which brings me to where I am today, it came at the expense of putting myself on the back burner and quality time spent with my daughter, family and friends. 2020 will be my year of “No, but I have someone I can refer you to”. I will begin to delegate, continue to make meaningful connections that create long-term personal and business relationships, and give another up and coming talent the opportunities I was given so this person can shine their light. I plan to narrow my focus on fewer projects to make a bigger impact.
My friend Brittany Tran of Good Hause said, “I’m comfortable with being uncomfortable.” My friend Kady Brown of Kady Brown Interiors sent me a quote that said something along the lines of, “You can’t change those around you but you can create the circumstances and conditions in which they will want to change.” Those words stuck with me and are the guiding principles for what I do in the community. My source of support comes from a small circle of entrepreneurs and community leaders. I have “silent mentors” whom I observe their leadership style and emulate.
Please tell us about Asian Business Association of Orange County.
The Asian Business Association of Orange County (ABAOC) was founded in 1992 to meet the needs of fast-growing Asian businesses in Orange County. Its vision was to build an organization that would provide Asian Americans the opportunity to gain access to economic advancement and social development through networking, new opportunities, education and community representation and participation.
Since its establishment, it has successfully organized many major events including mixers, procurement events, workshops, business conventions and outreach programs through the support of its members, sponsors and community affiliates. ABAOC events and programs inspire and stimulate small business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs to grow and prosper through a wealth of personal and professional development opportunities to reach their full potential. ABAOC has developed strong relationships with corporate partners and supporters, government, and other business chambers while carrying out its mission.
ABAOC encompasses a wide range of diverse members in the Orange County and its surrounding areas. “Rich in Diversity” is not just a description for the ABAOC, but rather the identity that it represents based on the abundant selection of businesses and ethnic groups involved in the organization.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
With the success of Crazy Rich Asians, and Awkwafina and Parasite’s Golden Globe win, Asians are now more prominent and have a darker footprint on the map. We are better represented in the media, we are providing more education on Census 2020 so we will be accounted for, we are providing election information so our voices will be heard, we are making Forbes and Inc. lists, and will be more comfortable as creatives, entrepreneurs and non-traditionalists. We will encourage one another to break down our walls and become more vulnerable about our mental health to create a community of supporters.
- $125 One-Year Individual Membership
- $200 Two-Year Individual Membership
- $1000 Corporate Membership
- Website: www.abaoc.org; www.lindanguyen.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: _abaoc
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/abaoc