Ha Truc: Building the Vietnamese Brand as a Young Millennial
One of the mysteries of modern Vietnam is the lifestyle of the young Vietnamese millennial.
What are they doing and thinking about? How can businesses, people, and trends grow and adapt to the needs and wants of the young Vietnamese millennial?
For older overseas Vietnamese and foreign travelers to Vietnam, there are few resources that can tell the rising story of the young and modern lifestyle. When we went searching for who can represent this story, we decided to sit down with Ha Truc.
A native of Ho Chi Minh City, Truc is a 20-something businesswoman, part-time model, and student at a local art university in the city, Truc has grown her reputation the same way that many millennials do today: through her Instagram and Facebook.
We took the time to chat with her about her business, aspirations, and what daily life in Ho Chi Minh City is like for a local native like herself.
What kind of business did you start and why?
I started a cosmetic and organic product line called HERPAS which focuses on using herbs, flowers, and vegetables to create high quality beauty products. There’s a demand for it in Vietnam. Though why do we have to use overseas products? Why aren’t there more Vietnamese products for Vietnamese people?
Did your experience growing up in Vietnam encourage you to start a business?
My main motivation for starting the business is to encourage Vietnamese people to use Vietnamese products. There’s a misleading perception that overseas must be better. But Vietnamese products can be quality too. I grew up knowing that quality products exist. I’d like to continue sharing the story of these products. They are hard to find, but they are there.
I wanted to make it for myself, but then I ended up making more products to sell after my friends heard about it. I also strongly believe in products that are handmade in Vietnam. As a customer myself, I want to use products that are handmade and genuine. Once I started making my own products for myself, it became a business spontaneously after that.
What advice can you give to other young Vietnamese who want to start their own ventures?
It’s only been a year since I started, it hasn’t been that long.
I would say don’t be afraid to try things. I started the business with an initial investment by selling mooncake. Slowly, I started making more products and trying new things out.
We only sell products online at the moment, though I’m looking at opening a physical retail location a store. We also don’t have any distributors at the moment because our products are hard to explain unless the staff is trained well and familiar with the product benefits and how to use them. Some of our products have to be used soon after purchase. Because of the natural ingredients, they can’t be kept in storage for too long.
I’m also still studying at a local university right now, it’s difficult to manage both at the same time but I’m making it work.
Who are your customers?
The simple answer is whoever appreciates high quality Vietnamese-made health products. Most of them are 25 to 35 years old and they usually care more about the origins and quality of the products. Right now our products are available through Instagram and Facebook only.
Any exciting new ideas rolling out soon?
I’m in the process of getting papers and saving enough investment to open a place for people who would like to discuss in-person about skin care products.
At some point toward the end of the year, I’d also like to take a tour of Vietnam to find new products and suppliers.
Thank you for sharing about the story of your business! Now onto a few personal questions…
What restaurants and cafes can someone spot you in Saigon?
I love Thai food. Thai Express or Siam Cafe is nice. On that note, I’m a bit afraid of traveling to Thailand. Bangkok is even faster than Ho Chi Minh City. I’m also a bit self-conscious speaking English, so at times I had a hard time getting around in tourist areas. I got my things stolen the last time I was there! With that said, Thailand is a beautiful country, you just have to be a bit careful. 🙂
What hobbies do you like to do in your spare time?
When I’m at home, I like to watch movies or listen to music. Specifically Japanese or Hong Kong productions from the 1980s. I also enjoy watching Japanese manga or anime. My favorites are old school Hong Kong movies that feature the true oriental style. It’s similar to my own personal style.
I had years of taekwondo lessons. Now I like to practice yoga, it helps keep my mind fresh and sharp.
What are your favorite Vietnamese clothing brands?
My favorite Vietnamese clothing brand at the moment is LaDan on 76A Lê Lợi in Ho Chi Minh City. They use bamboo from Vietnam to make many of their products. Otherwise, it’s really hard to choose. For my own personal clothing style, I like the classical style by going to the tailor and getting fitted pieces.
What are your favorite travel destinations in Vietnam? Where do you want to go?
My three favorite destinations are Phan Rang, Ninh Thuan, and Binh Thuan. Life is quiet and easy in the countryside compared to the hustle of the city.
In the city, it’s a “dog-eat-dog” world. People are looking after themselves anytime and anywhere. People in the countryside are honest and nice.
As for a trip abroad, I’ve always wanted to go to Mongolia. It’s a mysterious place. I’ve had this idea for a long time about driving a Jeep and crossing the desert. It sounds like a true adventure. I have a little Indiana Jones sense of adventure in me.
I’ve already been to Hong Kong, though I’d never turn down another trip. I’ve watched so many movies about the city and I love the energy.
What are five interesting things about you?
- I have a weird obsession with… eyebrows. Whenever I meet someone, I always look at their eyebrows first
- I like things that are uniquely Asian and 100% Vietnamese
- The first time I made money was in 2nd grade, when I was making and selling perfume for VND 5,000/bottle
- When I was small, as the biggest kid in school who knew taekwondo, I was very often a bully
- My favorite food: KFC fried chicken and french fries
Who should I talk to next?
Minh Ngoc. A popular food stylist based in Hanoi but she is often traveling in Ho Chi Minh as well. You can find some of her work on her Instagram.