A Working Woman: Tang Thanh Ha - Business Stories and Lessons
It would be difficult to write a novel introduction differing from what’s already written about Tang Thanh Ha. Everyone recognizes her history as one of the leading actresses in Vietnamese film industry. Just when her fame was at its peak and the audience was constantly looking forward to her next production, she decided to challenge herself in new playgrounds and new fields. To most, it was a sudden turn, but not to her.
Fast forward to the present, and she is still captivating her audience and the media. Everyone remains curious how a veteran actress is faring in her new ventures. How does she handle the life of a wife, a mother, and a multi-business entrepreneur?
Join us to learn about the work and lessons of Tang Thanh Ha in the article below.
Tang Thanh Ha at The Crab Shack’s Phan Xich Long location.
Can you share the values that you hold and never compromise?
At work, there are two values that I always respect when doing business, that is integrity and mutual respect. When working with employees and partners, I always want to build an environment based on these two values.
Tell us about your current projects and life. What are your favorite things at the moment?
Currently, I’m doing business in two fields, namely food & beverage (F&B) and fashion. Regarding F&B, I’m managing The Crab Shack, a seafood restaurant chain consisting of 3 branches. In the near future, The Crab Shack will expand to the northern market. As for fashion, I’m operating Sunnies Studios Vietnam, the franchise glasses brand. This December, Sunnies also plans to develop stores in Hanoi and Nha Trang. Finally, there’s HATANG, the fashion brand that I founded.
Regarding priorities right now, of course it’s the brands that I operate and manage. Moreover, because I’m married and have two children, I always try to balance work and family.
The interior of The Crab Shack restaurant.
Why did you choose to operate in both F&B and fashion?
These are all my favorite fields. Having tried many fields, I learned that when doing the jobs that I love, I will not get tired of work. Everything should start from passion, from what we know how to do and what we want to do.
In my family, everyone loves to cook, and I myself have a passion for food. The idea of building The Crab Shack came from the dish that I often cook: seafood with Cajun sauce. Seeing that everyone in the family loved this dish, my husband suggested turning the dish into a business to serve more people. So Cajun sauce seafood from a family recipe becomes a recipe for a restaurant. And about 95% of The Crab Shack’s recipes are developed by me.
Fashion is another passion, another playground for me. I think anyone who acts will more or less have a good sense of aesthetics. Fashion and food are two different fields, but there are certainly similarities. After all, both are arts, and food, aside from taste, needs to be beautiful too.
People often think that business is a sudden turn in your career. What do you think about this?
People often think that I started as an actress and then turned to business, but that’s not the case. Acting and business are two jobs that I’ve been working in parallel for a long time. I studied commerce at RMIT University, and during my time there, already began investing in stocks and real estate while starting a media company. After graduation, I wanted to work in my field of study.
Of course, the nature of acting and business are completely different. Every film project has its own pressure and difficulties, but when the movie premieres, I’ve fulfilled my role. After each project, I returned to zero, and had time to rest before starting new projects.
But business is different; it’s like a never-ending project. When starting a business, it took me time to adjust to this.
“Do not be afraid of failure and do not consider the success of others as a blessing.”
Some of your strengths and weaknesses at work are …
I am an achiever. I always want to develop, want to have new goals and challenges to conquer. When I accomplish all the goals that I set for the day, instead of being exhausted, I will feel energized and excited. But sometimes, an achiever’s personality is also her weakness. If I cannot complete the set goals, or have no new projects or challenges for a long time, I will feel very uncomfortable, sometimes lacking confidence in myself (laughs).
Can you share some memorable lessons you learned along your career path?
The most memorable period was when I started a new type of business. There were many difficulties as well as things that I needed to explore and learn. I started with F&B from scratch – no experience, not much investment. Because I wanted to cut costs, I only recruited a few fixed positions. The rest of the missing roles, from purchasing, marketing, cashier, to the kitchen, etc., was filled by me. I learned a lot from wearing all those different hats. Now that everything is up and running self-sufficiently, I’m still confident that I understand my brand and operations thoroughly. That’s another interesting part of being an entrepreneur.
After The Crab Shack, I also opened two F&B businesses, inspired by the brands that I was impressed with during my travels. But unfortunately, both businesses failed because I did not do research and analyze the market carefully. I learned that not all good products succeed, depending on whether the market needs and receives it. In addition, when doing F&B, the location also plays a very important role, and the business results (Profit & Loss) must be healthy from the beginning.
Who have been your mentors throughout your career?
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with those who came before, who had their experience to share with me. However, if it comes to the person helping me closely in my career, it is my husband. I will not call him a mentor, but a companion, because we both started our own business ventures at the same time. He was with me in difficult times. To this day, if there are difficulties in my work, he will still be the first person I come to discuss and share ideas. I am lucky to have a partner, who is also a companion on the career path.
“Fashion and food are two different fields, but there are certainly similarities. After all, both are arts…”
What is your daily routine like?
My day begins at 5:30 am. After exercising, I will wake my children up, have breakfast and prepare them for school. In the meantime, I will prepare lunch and snacks for them. After that, I will take each child to school, and then go to the office to work. I always try to finish work early so I can go to pick up the children. If not, I will pick them up and return to the office to continue my work.
Do you have a long-term plan for yourself?
I started working at the age of 12, and since then, I’ve known how to make 3-year, 5-year, and 10-year plans. I always makes small plans to achieve big goals. And because I have a clear plan, I can follow the progress of the task.
Your measure of success is…
I think there is no specific measure of success; I myself have to learn to be satisfied with my present life. We have to know to live every minute, every second to be happy. And if we have to measure whether we are happy and successful, it will create pressure for ourselves. I think we just need to make plans for our lives, and gradually implement those plans. And cherish every moment on that journey.
Looking back on the past, what makes you most proud and happy?
Regarding my personal life, the happiest thing is definitely being a mother. At work, when I turned 30 years old, I felt satisfied with what I had done.
“When I accomplish all the goals that I set for the day, instead of being exhausted, I will feel energized and excited.”
A woman you admire.
The woman that I admire the most is certainly my mother. My mother was also a businesswoman, who taught me the value of money, and to earn money the right way. Not only is she a good businesswoman, she also takes care of her husband and children. I learned a lot from my mother.
Finally, do you have anything to say to the young female readers of Vietcetera?
As someone who has gone through the startup process and faced many difficulties, thinking and reflecting along the way, I drew four important lessons from my journey.
The first is, do not compare yourself with anyone. Each person has unique value and strengths. Comparing yourself with another person is not respecting yourself. With that time wasted, we can instead focus on developing ourselves.
The second thing is that young people should build up a positive mindset. It’s easy to say, but hard to do. The thinking here is not something so extensive, it starts with a very simple thing every day – stop saying things like “So boring”, “so sad” … Over time, these will affect your emotions in a negative way. Positive thinking will energize you, help you get better at your job and see life in a lighter way.
The third thing is, do not be afraid of failure and do not consider the success of others as a blessing. I think that no one succeeds who has never experienced failure. But it is these failures that will make you more experienced, energetic, and better treated. I myself failed so much, there were times when I failed to know where to start. But from there, I realized the things that I should change.
The fourth is patience. Young people, do everything to be patient. To achieve something, you must have a plan, and patiently implement it.