We recently came across the story of Hien Vo thanks to an introduction from Ha Truc.
Hien, an ex-advertising agency veteran turned juice entrepreneur has been building her ÉP Pressed Juice business as the trend of healthy living continues to pick up in Vietnam. So what’s the story behind her move from corporate professional to entrepreneurial juice-maker?
Hien just wanted a quality juice. Cafes and restaurants have juices on their menus, but most are too basic or the drinks are afterthoughts from the rest of the menu. When she’s moving around town, she’s constantly meeting with friends and clients. And she’s already had one too many coffees. It was a need for herself to drink something healthy and consistently, without worrying about negative after effects.
You spent some time in San Francisco and with global advertising agency Ogilvy in Vietnam. What sort of lessons did those experiences teach you?
An interesting question. The time spent in San Francisco and with advertising agency Ogilvy is an inflection moment that shaped my character and fueled my professional growth.
I’ve become more independent and decisive in decision-making. I also learned how to set future goals for myself while enjoying the diverse culture that San Francisco offered. Living for the moment while prioritizing my future. My time abroad has inspired me to seek answers to the question: “what do most people care about in their life?” For me, I’ve found that health and happiness are the two most important factors for most people. These two factors helped me conceptualize and build the idea for ÉP.
While living in San Francisco and working at Ogilvy in Vietnam, I found myself in challenging professional and foreign work environments. The collaborative team experiences I picked up have been very valuable for my business-building experiences in Vietnam.
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Tell us more about ÉP Pressed Juice. What are its goals?
Our goal at ÉP Pressed Juice is to promote a healthy lifestyle through subtle but nourishing ingredients found in everyday meals. At the same time, we want to remind everyone to take care of their well-being, especially in Ho Chi Minh City’s stressful environment. We want to help people nourish their bodies, freshen the minds, and enhance their moods through healthy eating. We also hope that through our products we inspire more Saigonese, and later every Vietnamese, to join us on this mission to set healthy lifestyle goals.
What are challenges are you facing in growing the ÉP Pressed Juice brand?
What’s the difference between cold pressed juice and regular juice? Most people only see the difference in price. We’re driving initiatives such as publishing a magazine about the story and mission of ÉP. Right now, it’s one time a year.
We’re also focused on making our products and services as convenient as possible. Because most of our sales involve delivery, we’re optimizing the ordering and drop off experience. Many of our customers don’t have time to track all of the small logistical troubles of delivery. We want to make it as easy as possible for them.
Our distribution strategy is also evolving. Our largest channel is Facebook. We’re focused on quality first, after that next year’s vision will be to try more creative things. We plan to expand a lot by moving into retail distribution, putting our products in higher-market coffee shops and grocery stores.
Who are your target customers? How many of them are coming back?
Our target customers are people who are health-conscious, aged between 22 and 45 years old.
With a customer retention rate hovering above 75%, I strongly believe that our priority in delivering quality products which focus on the well-being of others will boost this number significantly.
What excites you about and keeps you in Vietnam?
My main motivation for staying in Vietnam is because I want to stick with my roots, my friends from middle school and high school, and all of my relatives. I also want to help Vietnamese people understand the importance of health.
Where can someone spot you on Friday night in Ho Chi Minh City?
It’s hard to say. Some say they see me everywhere, others, not so often. The nature of my work with ÉP requires me to travel to different places to explore and to learn. There might be days that you could spot me in several restaurants testing different menus. On many other days, I might confine myself to my home office to brainstorm new ideas and experiment new recipes.
What sort of restaurant or cafe concept would you like to see in Ho Chi Minh City? What’s missing here?
That question has me thinking about restaurants in San Francisco. Because of the traffic congestion and infrastructure of the city, lots of people who want to try new concepts aren’t able to execute and make it happen.
One particular concept that I’ve always wanted to see here is a coffee shop that is close to nature. There have been many attempts to do it, though many have missed the full mark. The Grove in San Francisco is something that I would love to see here. It has an environmentally friendly vibe to it.
If you had to choose another profession, what would you pursue?
I’ve always wanted to be a hotel or resort manager. I have a passion for hospitality. That was my academic goal when I applied to the University of San Francisco. After a conversation with my family though, we agreed that Business Administration was my strength.
Who should I talk to next?
Loi Vo. He’s the Deputy Manager of Kien Long Bank’s Nha Be Branch. My cousin, he studied at University of Southern California, later moving to Seattle to work at an investment firm. He’s a double-sided brain kind of person: good at numbers and loves literature. He’s also gotten more into fashion recently.