Nancy Le: An Interview with the Woman Behind Lifestyle Brand Nosbyn
The first things that come to mind about shopping in Vietnam are the bargains, knock-offs, and haggling in Ben Thanh market. On the other hand, many shop at designer department stores like Takashimaya in Saigon Centre.
While the low and high-end of the spectrums are well-served in Vietnam, who is serving trendy, simple, and affordable products for professional millennials in Vietnam? Is there a Vietnamese brand that is similar to the likes of Uniqlo, H&M, and Zara?
Nancy Le, the creator of lifestyle brand Nosbyn, was one of the first in Vietnam to plant her flag.
What inspired Nosbyn?
When I moved back to Vietnam after studying at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, many designer lines and local brands were more expensive and flashy than what I’d wear. I couldn’t find what I was looking for. So I started my own. Something simple, beautiful, and affordable. Something in the $10-$30 range for students and young professionals. Something that serves as the basis of a woman’s outfit of the day. That’s my inspiration.
What kind of clientele shop at Nosbyn?
Our target customers are 18-35 year olds. Most are students and working professional women.
We’re a local lifestyle brand, not a designer brand. Giving us a designer label adds a level of expectation to ourselves and to our customers. We want our brand and customers to be free of labels and expectation. Many of our customers love Nosbyn because it’s effortless, local, and affordable.
Right now most of our business is in Vietnam, but we’re seeing a steady increase of international customers. We are stocked in San Francisco and Los Angeles at Voyager + Revolver. We’ve noticed that our crop tops and basic pants sell well in America.
Many of our international customers find us through Instagram and Facebook. Most of them are coming from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and America. We have the ability to accept payments and to ship internationally.
Our largest international customer segment is from Japan and Korea, representing about 20% of our international business. Many Japanese and Koreans appreciate Vietnamese brands because many live here in Ho Chi Minh City. They’re a major part of our walk-in traffic.
What are your greatest challenges for growing the Nosbyn brand?
Everyone’s starting clothing lines for all segments so we’re focused on differentiation and taking care of our customers. We try to not lose ourselves in trends. We start minimal and add little twists in cut, fabric, color along the way.
What’s next for Nosbyn?
We’re excited about our online initiatives, particularly our website. It features randomly generated stacks of products (and surprises) for you to discover and buy, similar to your experience of browsing in a shop. We’re rolling it out soon with help from the The Lab Saigon.
We’re also toying with the idea of creating a Nosbyn basics store. Something exclusive, where we feature items not sold at other locations. Simple items in the $10-$20 range.
We’ve thought of doing a men’s line before, but it’s difficult since men don’t shop as often. It’s difficult to get consistent feedback to improve.
What are your favorite cafes in Ho Chi Minh City?
My favorite cafes in Ho Chi Minh City are Mekong Merchant in District 2 and Work Cafe in Bitexco Tower in District 1. I’d like to see a quick takeaway coffee spot in District 1. There is no quick takeaway coffee around here! That’s a business opportunity. Watch this space, we’re a lifestyle brand after all.
Where can a guy take you on a date?
Urban Kitchen + Bar is my favorite. It has excellent cocktails. The Refinery is a close second. I’m also a fan of local food, especially banh mi.
What are your favorite travel destinations? Where do you want to go next?
I’d like to visit Bhutan and South Korea. I’m also a fan of historical cities.