Please say hello to a young woman that has independently made big moves from countries to careers, and is only beginning.
Tracey is a beauty blogger and online entrepreneur. Through one of her endeavors, Lipstick & Muffin Media, she works with a team of inspiring female entrepreneurs to build an empowering community of women. Through her platform, she provides an outlet for women to connect and celebrate one another while giving them the tools to grow their online empires from branding to blogging to SEO.
She is a champion for girls and their abilities to be who and what they want to be. We got to talk to her about leaving her home country, quitting her corporate job to follow her dreams, and on what fashion and beauty mean to her and girls everywhere.
Beyond Bossy: Where are you from?
Tracey Nguyen: I came to Canada when I was 16 as an international student from Vietnam. Time does fly! It has been ten years and I have moved all around Toronto, Ontario during that time until I was able to purchase my dream home a few months ago in Markham, Ontario.
How did you cope with the culture change and new way of living when moving to Canada alone? What was the greatest challenge about this change?
The culture change was definitely a big shock. I didn’t speak the language well and was super quiet in classrooms. I only had a few good friends which also came from different countries and we found that with that, we could relate to one another. The biggest challenge about this change was being able to
come out of my comfort zone and not care too much about what other people think of me. I used to think I needed to fit in but as I grew a bit older I realized I just needed to feel comfortable in my own skin. I needed to feel free again. I started to speak English more without caring what people would think about my accent. I started to dress the way I wanted to and stopped caring about fitting in with the crowd.
I have bigger dreams and bigger goals than working for someone else and letting other people decide my worth.
What made you realize that working a 9-5 corporate job was no longer the path for you?
I always knew that I was passionate about empowering women, creative productions, and marketing at a young age but I ended up taking a major in Business Management to please my parents. Just like everyone else, I was taught to do well in school, get a job, and
climb up the corporate ladder. After I graduated from York University, I got lucky to land my first corporate job in the human resource department of a really well establish insurance firm. At first, I was quite excited about the new job but six months in I realized that I have bigger dreams and bigger goals than working for someone else and letting other people decide my worth. I was tired of the office environment and the politics that go with it. Besides, I had been away from home for ten years and the two-week vacation that work gave me wouldn’t give me enough time to spend with my loved ones overseas and I hated feeling that I couldn’t be with my family when they most needed me. I thought to myself, there has to be a better way to live life than working your whole life away, making a decent income, but not having time to spend with your loved ones or the ability to make changes in the world. I decided I was done building
someone else’s dream.
What fears did you face when taking the plunge to quit your corporate job? How did you overcome these fears?
It wasn’t an easy decision since I was the only one in Canada and had to support myself 100% financially. I slept on it for 11 months until I finally handed in my resignation. I was already building my online business part time during the two and a half years I worked my 9-5 and I watched my business grow while my income at my full-time job wasn’t increasing at the rate that I was expecting no matter how much effort I put in. I made the jump thinking that if I can take the eight hours at work and spend it into becoming a full-time entrepreneur and building my own dreams, my business will even grow faster and it did. I guess I was lucky to have an extra source of income coming in when I didn’t really need it so when I needed to walk away from my job, I was able to sustain myself and not having to sacrifice as much as I would have to otherwise.
Have you always been passionate about fashion and beauty?
Yes, I have! I started drawing my own models and outfits when I was only six years old. When I was young, it was just an awesome feeling knowing that I could create some
outfits that my parents simply couldn’t afford to buy me. When I grew a bit older, I realized fashion and beauty were more than just fancy clothes and beautiful makeup. As someone who was raised by a very independent woman, I soon realized that I could use fashion and beauty as the platform to make a positive impact in someone else’s life and create a community of strong and independent women. This has always been my drive – to make a positive impact on people, one person at a time.
[Fashion and makeup] reflect a woman’s mindset, her power, and her confidence.
Do you find that makeup and style is a tool of expression and empowerment for girls?
They reflect a woman’s mindset, her power, and her confidence. They have the power to influence, empower and connect people in many positive ways.
What are some biggest fashion and/or beauty rules that you swear by?
I believe that having a personal sense of style is more than chasing the trends. Trends come and go but you are you and nobody can change your style. I believe that fashion and beauty should have no rules. Have fun with it! Wear it as a personal statement of your confidence and
who you are. Don’t let the makeup or clothes wear you and don’t ever feel like you have to stay relevant with the trends. Be you and do you! I think the most beautiful girls are most confident ones.
What are your go-to products at the moment?
My mom is a big fan of all natural, non-chemical and healthy products so I was raised to pay attention to what is on the labels and what is in the products. My favourite go-to products at the moment are the Lumiere Devie Super Cream. We all know that fall is coming and our skin is also going through a lot of changes. This super cream is created from all of the best natural ingredients from the sea and the earth and it is the one solution for all skin problems in one little jar. I call it a “Magic Jar”!
Tell us about your website, “Lipstick and Muffin Media”.
Throughout my period of being a beauty blogger and building my own online business, I have received a lot of messages, e-mails, and questions from women all around the world, asking me how I do what I do and what advice I can give them to get started with their journey of pursuing their dreams and passion. I used to reply to them one by one and try to respond to them as much as I could but it also hit me that social media is such a powerful tool to spread the message of women empowerment. One of the platforms that we have is Lipstick And Muffin’s Community. It has always been my dream to create a community of women who believe that the fastest way for us to succeed is to support one another. From the years of experience that I have with marketing, brand consulting, and
social media, I also wanted to provide many different services to my community to get themselves started right and build their empire online. That’s when Lipstick And Muffin’s Media services come into the picture. We help aspiring bloggers, business owners and any girl boss out there who have big goals and big dreams but don’t have to right tools to leverage on social media.
What is the most difficult aspect of running your own brand?
I’d have to say ‘mental toughness’. Being a business owner, you need to be prepared to face any challenges at any given times and if you are not mentally tough, your journey could be quite rough at some points.
If I could touch and relate to one person out of the 1000 attendants at these events, my mission is accomplished!
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
I don’t think I am at where I want to be yet but I think one of the accomplishments I could say here is being able to share my stories at many entrepreneurial events around Toronto and the GTA. I spoke at one that had 1000 attendants and it was quite nerve wrecking. When I was in school, I would be the one who pretended to be sick to skip any class presentations or public speaking; I never thought that one day I would be able to share my stories and journey to so many people. If I could touch and relate to one person out of the 1000 attendants at these events, my mission is accomplished!
What is your biggest dream?
My biggest goal has always been to empower women. It has never changed. Coming from a developing country where women are still not getting the same education, the same treatment and the same opportunities as men, I always wanted to be successful fast so I could have the financial ability to give back, to educate and to help women in third world countries to realize that we are so much more powerful than we think.
How far do you think you have come with these dreams so far?
I really think I just started and I am super excited to see what the future has in store for me and other powerful women that I am and will have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with through Lipstick And Muffin’s community.
What woman has inspired you and created a significant difference in your life?
The crown has to be given to my mom! She is amazing! The sacrifices that she made for her siblings and then for our family is unheard of. When I face any difficulties in life I think of her because of the amount of obstacles she has been through throughout her life are way too unbelievable for me to even compare with. When I think of that, I automatically get more strength to go through whatever I was facing. She taught me to never ever give up and to always make sure you deliver what you promise to deliver.
What has been your greatest moment of weakness?
It was probably when my grandparents passed away. For the first time ever, I saw my dad cry and I realized that the time you get to spend with your loved ones is more valuable than anything in the world. Some people spend their whole life working for money they don’t get to spend and miss out on the most valuable thing which is the time to spend with your friends and family. That moment really changed everything.
People will say what they want to say, you just have to prove them wrong with actions and results.
Have you ever been undermined or mistreated as a woman? How have you dealt with it?
I lost count! I think there is still a stigma that women don’t have what it takes to build an empire. If we are too mean, they say we can’t network and build business connections. If we are too nice, they say we don’t have what it takes to survive in the cut-throat business environment. But you know what? I have seen so many women break the mold and I think we are proving them wrong. I used to take it personally but I have grown so much that I realized people will say what they want to say, you just have to prove them wrong with actions and results.
What, to you, does it mean to be a ‘girl boss’?
To me, a ‘girl boss’ is the one who has enough confidence in herself that she can be successful no matter what but also believes that she cannot be successful without supporting and lifting other people along the way. I love it when I can talk to a woman who has so much confidence in herself and her ability that she believes there is enough room at the top for others who are also willing to work hard and make sacrifices for their dreams.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to any girl going forward in life?
Stay positive! Everyone wants the rainbow but not everyone is willing to go through the rain. Always surround yourself with the right people and learn from them. If you can’t build with them, don’t chill with them!