Before Quynh Tran was a businesswoman in Vietnam, she settled in America at the age of 15 with her mother. Tran shared that she thought part of her strong personality came from her mother. “My mother is a courageous and resilient person,” Tran said. “She individually brought her two children to America to make a living with empty hands and little English.”
She began studying and working in the Fashion Merchandising industry in the United States when she was 16. Six years ago, during a visit to Vietnam, she saw an opportunity and decided to move to Vietnam permanently. Tran started working as a stylist for Esquire, a men’s magazine.
She noticed that Vietnam did not have many businesses selling men’s clothing; ready-made garments were rare, but suits were even rarer. She decided to establish Cooper & Co. along with a friend. The brand would specialize in providing tailored apparel for living and working men in Vietnam.
Vietcetera discussed with Quynh Tran the qualities of being a businesswoman, especially her goals, and advice she would give to young women who are just beginning business ventures of their own.
What are three core values that you would never compromise as a businesswoman? How are they reflected in your career?
No shortcuts. Effort is the only way to success. If you work half-heartedly, your results will be half-hearted.
Honesty. In any situation, always be honest with your customers. For example, when you encounter problems such as a product taking longer to complete than expected, you need to immediately notify customers so that you do not waste their time. Customers are busy, so we have to prioritize ways to bring them convenience.
Punctuality. This is important, as it reflects your discipline, respect, and devotion to others. It also is a virtue of your attitude towards yourself. Being early or on time measures your preparedness and ability to respect other people’s time.
Do you consider being a businesswoman in men’s clothing an advantage or a disadvantage?
I personally don’t think the male or female distinction matters. I simply see myself as someone who provides a service in the fashion industry.
Of course, during the early days of Cooper & Co.’s establishment, persuading skilled workers of 15 to 20 years to join and substantiating my passion and determination to them were quite challenging. But overall, I still saw more pros than cons.
I am a transparent and attentive person who enjoys making everyone look beautiful. Moreover, I want to help them feel confident about themselves, inside out. With the refined perspective of a woman, I have the utmost conviction in bringing my customers the best suits. Interestingly, all sales staff at Cooper & Co. are women.
However, working in the service industry is not easy; I expect the best and prepare for the worst, but I still believe that I have enough training and experience to pursue my career.
Tell us about the biggest lesson in your career as a businesswoman.
Learning to be independent. I think learning to do everything yourself is essential in any job.
Financial independence has also made me more confident in making consequential decisions. Although I’m not very wealthy, earning enough money to take care of myself and the people I love, for me, is already a great motivation to conquer anything.
Do you have a mentor in your career?
Truthfully, I don’t have many relationships with other people in the industry, but I am actively trying to improve this. However, I have learned a lot from people around me – my friends, partners, the garment factory manager, and employees at Cooper & Co.
Throughout my career, I have learned numerous lessons: decisiveness from my partners, problem-solving and innovativeness from the garment factory manager, and diligence and dedication from my employees.
In addition, I’m also fortunate to have received support and encouragement from my family and friends. All these people have supported me through many ups and downs, and I always remind myself to cherish their presence in my life.
What’s the next plan for Cooper and Co.?
Times have changed; everything is being digitized. Therefore, in the future, I hope to integrate Cooper & Co. into the e-commerce market. Currently the whole team is still looking for directions to maximize convenience for customers but still minimize risks related to tailoring or customer support.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Being able to pursue and enjoy the work I want. I think the definition of success varies from person to person. Mine is waking up every day and still wanting to do what I do. It sounds clichéd, but yes – do what you like and like what you do. Besides, I’m also delighted to have been able to build an ideal working environment for everyone and ensure they have the opportunity for promotion and specific goals to work towards.
In the same breath, I’m also afraid to let myself become too comfortable, so I always look for new projects. I still have many things I want to do with my business partners. We are all aware that the world around us is changing very quickly, so we are constantly adapting to change and improving ourselves so as not to lag behind.
If you could give some advice to young women in the early stages of their careers, what would it be?
Always be confident and believe in yourself, what you do, and what you’ve done to be where you are now. Work hard because there’s no free lunch. Be patient because nothing changes overnight. And be independent because there will be no one there to hold your hand every step of the way. I think the lessons and experiences that one gathers along the way to success are far more valuable than simply achieving the goal. Your hard-earned experiences and skills are the things that you will carry with you your whole life, and no one will be able to take them away from you.
Adapted by Ella Dao