Fifteen years ago, Jap and Tib Hoang, two sisters from Montreal, were going back and forth between their hometown in Canada and Saigon to buy products to curate their homeware store in Montreal. Their entrepreneurial story in Saigon started with L’Usine, one of Saigon’s longest-serving and most iconic brands, and continues today with one of their newest business that leverages their expertise in curation and craftsmanship.
We meet with the two sisters to learn more about their newest venture, Ernest & Martha, a gift experience company based in Saigon. Find out how their new company brings together the best of their tried-and-tested Saigon business building experiences.
What inspiration led to the start of Ernest & Martha?
It all began when we first started L’Usine ten years ago and needed to curate cool and designed products for the store. In our search for curated products, we recognized a lot of these amazing products are from Vietnam. We’ve made it a mission to introduce Vietnamese craftsmanship to the world.
Production curation we learned at L’Usine leads us to where we are today. We want to recreate that experience with the founding of Ernest & Martha. Our new brand is a gift experience company. We create products and experiences that are unexpected, unique and designed which all tell its own stories. We believe in creating an experience that can bring the best out of Vietnamese products, but also to bring back the romance of gifting. In a world where handwritten letters and tangible human connections are slowly replaced by social media, our mission is to reconnect people through the art of gifting.
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What’s the signature product at Ernest & Martha?
Our curated gift boxes! We always start by thinking about what a gift receiver would be utmost happy when receiving our boxes. We take inspiration from all the curated products that we come across from our travels.
Tell us about the concept behind a recent new box.
At Ernest & Martha, we believe in protecting our planet and we are working hard towards a more sustainable business. We still have a lot to improve but step by step we hope to find a way to only use materials for our boxes that won’t harm our planet. The “Queen Box”, a box created with all things green, was inspired by this belief.
Who’s your everyday customer at Ernest & Martha?
The busy working mothers, the bride and groom who need personalized gifts for their wedding party, the “last minute” men and women who need help finding a gift urgently, the entrepreneurs who need gifts for their loyal clients, corporate professionals who need creative gifts for their clients and employees.
Why should people trust Ernest & Martha?
We believe that trust is built from the customer’s very first experience with us and our service. We always make sure to offer flawless execution in everything we do. We thrive in giving our client a stress-free experience knowing their gifting will be unique, special and well delivered. And because we believe every client deserves an amazing experience whether as a gift giver or the one receiving the gift. We’ve built up a small following through our days at L’Usine and we hope to grow off that experience.
What services does Ernest & Martha provide that customers should know about?
You have two choices when you order with us: you can choose to buy the boxes that we’ve already created for you on our website www.ernestandmartha.com. Or you can give us a call and we can provide personalized services. We can prepare custom made boxes with the client’s or business’ name on the box and offer curated gifts that are chosen for each case.
What else are you working on right now?
We’re always coming up with new ideas and concepts. Right now, nothing that we can talk about specifically yet!
Back to Ernest & Martha. What’s your bestseller?
Our Honey Pomegranate candles and our leather goods range which includes pouches, passport holders and wallets.
And because, we have to ask. What keeps you here in Vietnam?
Where else will we be? Vietnam is our home. Our children were born in Vietnam and our friends and families are here! We are excited about what the new Vietnamese generations are bringing and all the opportunities this country has yet to offer.