We had the good fortune of connecting with Duwie Tran and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Duwie, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?

Patience. For example, consider this: It takes 4-6 weeks to cure a bar of soap. And that’s the absolute minimum. You can’t hurry this process, although tons of people have tried and shared their various hacks and methods. Still, none of these have been actually proven to do anything. Soap has a timeline and a journey of its own. And, interestingly enough, the longer a bar soap cures, the better it is. Its chemical composition changes, and it becomes more mild, gentle, bubblier, creamier, and lasts longer. A soap that’s been cured for four weeks is a completely different soap from one that’s cured for six months. Soaps that you hated when they were new, you can love after a long cure. Soapmaking is a labor of love and a lesson in patience. It’s not something that offers the instant gratification so common today, but the payout is well worth it.

This also got me thinking – maybe this is what it means to be human too. What it’s like to change and how to navigate change, not just in our lives, but from within. We are all treading our own path to become the “best version” of ourselves. But all of this takes time. Just like skincare takes time. We can’t expect to get instant results after using a product for a week, just as we can’t expect to be more intelligent, or strong, or responsible, after a week. So, it’s paramount to stay the course, even if the only thing we gain out of it is a little more compassion towards ourselves.

I’m still learning to practice patience in all areas of my life, to have this self-compassion even throughout the moments where I fall short (and especially in those moments). My work is a constant reminder of that.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?

My name is Duyen (pronounced du-win), but many people know me as Duwie. I am the woman behind the brand Dewy Monday, a minimalist skincare brand with a people and planet first ethos. My line includes solid bar soap, face and body oils, lip butters and a little more. Everything is handmade, plant-based, low-waste, and gentle.

For a long time, I had always wanted to have my own business. The idea of having complete autonomy was definitely enticing, but it was just as much about wanting to create something with my own two hands that I could feel proud of, as it was to be my own boss. The realm of health and wellness always interested me, namely natural ingredients. Younger me was always making smoothies or sneaking around scavenging the kitchen for yogurt, honey, avocado, oats and other random things for DIY recipes I’d find on the internet. I’ll never forget the time I made a hair mask from raw eggs, left it in for too long, resulting in the crustiest head of hair that took forever to wash off – never again! It was always for fun, and I never thought about it more than that.

Until one day in 2020 (pretty much right when COVID appeared), I stumbled upon a soapmaking account on Instagram. I had never seen soapmaking as a form of art like that – some were colorful, some had flowers, some had embeds – I was fascinated! I just kept watching, and the algorithm kept feeding. As soon as I got home from work I’d plop into bed and commence my daily dose of soap content. That summer, I finally attempted my own loaf of soap. It was a plain shea butter and olive oil soap – a creamy yellow bar that was smooth as butter. It had a fresh scent that’s kind of hard to describe. My very first soap, and it was beautiful! And all I wanted to do was make more. So I did!

Dewy Monday was conceptualized from my appreciation for our health, environment, and functional art. A lot of soaps on the market were beautiful but were full of palm oil (palm is a common soap ingredient due to its ability to make a very hard, long-lasting soap, but it has devastating effects on our land). Then, there were nourishing soaps that just weren’t pleasing to look at. So when I came up with Dewy Monday, I decided that it had to 1) capture the eye and spark joy 2) have health benefits and 3) leave a minimal footprint. Soon after, I realized a proper cleanse would be in vain without a proper moisturizer, and vice versa, so I leaned into these new expectations and created my second product, some really nice oil moisturizers. I knew I was doing something right when I was receiving so much positive feedback. And what I always do next is build on the feedback, continuing to expand on and improve what I offer. I also don’t run any ads; most of my customers are word-of-mouth, and that’s how I like it.

Before I started Dewy Monday I had worked in customer service for eight years, three in management, and I attribute so much of who I am to those years. My peers would say that I was “good” at it but the only thing I was doing was treating people the way I’d want to be treated. It’s the oldest cliché in the book and a super reliable guide. We all just want to feel understood, connected, cared for. Being face to face with people on a regular basis helped me realize that it’s people’s kindness that makes the world go round. My customers are the sole reason my business exists. If one day, they decided they no longer need or want me, I would close shop. But, as long as they do, I’ll be here.

I don’t think anyone realizes all the challenges of starting a small business until one actually starts! Product design, formulation, photography, website creation, bookkeeping, social media marketing, copywriting and more, are things I’m still learning to do on my own. Ironically, I don’t have a salesy bone in my body but here I am with a business. If I can do it, anyone can, haha! I’m nowhere near where I want to be but I’m learning to go easy on myself.

I believe the world should be a beautiful garden for everyone. At the same time, everyone is a beautiful part of the garden. Blooming jasmines, red rose petals, golden hues, and blades of dewy green grass. None are like the others and yet, each is beautiful in its own right, without fault or flaw. There is no use of comparison because there is no “perfect.” Beauty should allow you freedom to be yourself, and that can be found in a healthy state of your natural self. To get there might be a long road, but don’t worry – there’s beauty along the way too.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
To eat: The Little Door is quaint and romantic, and has some of the tastiest French food; The Butcher’s Daughter for a lively and beautiful spot to have plant-based food and really delicious juices

To drink: Bacari for ambience and cocktails, and they also have great food; for non-alcoholic drinks try literally any boba place – so many good ones!

To visit: The Mosaic Tile House in Venice is covered in colorful mosaic tiles by hand by an adorable, passionate, artistic couple; Griffith Observatory of course for the stunning views day and night

To hang out: Little Tokyo is full of culture, cute shops, restaurants and yummy dessert spots; Point Dume in Malibu for a more secluded beach that’s perfect for picnicking

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

I wouldn’t be where I am without my parents and oldest sister. For context, I grew up in a very minimalist household. Like many immigrants we were very poor, and if something wasn’t absolutely essential, we didn’t need to have it. Growing up, I don’t remember my mother ever buying a thing for herself, not a purse nor shirt nor lotion – never even a cold beverage to soothe her parched throat on a hot summer day. My parents got secure government, but low-paying, jobs and pinched pennies to be able to provide. My oldest sister was like a second mom, helping take care of me and my two other sisters, while also working and going to school full-time. They made many sacrifices to reach a level of financial security.

So, yeah my parents were absolutely mortified when I decided to quit my job and start a new venture making soap (to be fair, I’d be mortified too. Also, shout out to my sister for letting me move in with her and make soap in her house!). In their minds, I graduated from a good university and had potential for a “real” career, and they didn’t understand.

But, despite disapproval, they’ve supported me in other ways that impact me more profoundly than words of encouragement could ever. Like, instilling in me the value of hard work. Teaching me that people are worth immeasurably more than things. Having respect for the world we live in. How incredible it is how little you can survive on if you learn to make do.

Most importantly, I recognize my privileges. I feel comfortable enough to take risks with my career because they made safe decisions throughout theirs. I can chase a dream because they gave up theirs.

Website: www.dewymonday.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/dewymonday

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dewymonday

Other: www.tiktok.com/@dewymonday

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