Roy Gilbert

‘They Would Call Me Dragon Lady’: The Complexity of Speaking Up as an Asian American Woman

Tammy Huynh came to the U.S. at age 10 in 1991, when her family moved from Vietnam to Rocklin, California. At home, she was instructed to keep her head down and focus on school. At school, she was separated out from her classmates to learn English, which made her feel, as she says, “totally isolated.” Part of her family expected she’d become a doctor or lawyer, or find another reliable professional track–but there was an entrepreneurial streak in her family, and building businesses spoke to Huynh as well. After creating a fragrance startup in her 20s, she founded a cruelty-free line of makeup brushes, Luxie Beauty, which is global and is projecting $11 million in annual revenue in 2021.

Now she’s a mom of two, and on her third venture. Her latest company is channeling both her family’s heritage and a burgeoning trend in the U.S. In 2019, she launched San Jose, California-based Omni Bev, which sells fair trade Vietnamese brewed coffee and beans sourced from her family’s farms in Da Lat, Vietnam’s leading growing region. The recent wave of anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S. has made Huynh both sad and fearful–and is a painful reminder of the discrimination she faced at beauty industry trade shows early in her career. –As told to Christine Lagorio-Chafkin.

My most vivid memories of experiencing racism are from when I started my first venture. I’d dropped out of college–I’ve never looked back–to start a fragrance company. I would go to different […]

Tagged on: