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

Hi Grace, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Starting in my early twenties, I knew that I wanted to start my own business one day – a business that would help others overcome some of the most challenging phases of their lives. I lived everyday believing that a positive mindset coupled with confidence can dictate your future, and that they are the key ingredients to a successful life full of significance.

Always having loved fashion, LOUPN was born out of the lack of opportunities for men to express themselves. Most of the jewelry we saw in the market were very grungy, super blingy, out-of-reach expensive, or just plain cheap. As men’s fashion has gained more mainstream traction, becoming more open and diverse, we wanted to provide a way for men to look good and feel good without looking like they’re trying too hard. We created a simple and CLEAN way of accessorizing a confident look using quality sustainable pieces. It also happens that our grandpa was a watchmaker and our uncle has been a jeweler for over 50 years, so it almost felt like starting our own jewelry brand was in our DNA.

Anyone can wear our pieces – men or women – but we prioritized men to start, especially Asian & other minority men b/c we believe in empowering the underserved communities. I have a husband, a brother, dad, and a 4 yr old son who I’ve seen all struggle with confidence at some point in their lives. I think men are the backbone of our families, and they too need a reminder of their unwavering confidence. I wanted to develop a brand that encourages confidence and helps develop role models for minority children to look up to.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
LOUPN is not just a jewelry brand that makes beautiful products, but we want to be at the heart of reconstructing social justice. We promote positive thinking and we want to be a leader in listening. We believe that taking the long route of listening, empathizing, encouraging, planning, then acting will build the strongest foundations in long lasting change.

As I was developing my brand and encouraging others to express themselves, I realized that I had not been expressing myself fully. I grew up as a pastor’s kid and I felt a lot of pressure to be a good role model. I always felt like I had to have a smile on my face, even though we were poor, my mom was working a lot and my parents fought about money all the time. Although it was not peaceful at home, I could never talk about it with anyone. I had never even shared with my parents how I felt.

Through the process of developing my brand, I feel I’m getting a second chance. I was able to express my honest thoughts to my parents, and it’s been a really healing journey. I still feel very uncomfortable sharing myself, but everyday, I try to put myself out there. It is my hope that our audience will experience this same process of self expression, healing, and peace, through their journey with us.

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?
First things first, I would plan my itinerary based around food. Oink. LA is known to have the best authentically diverse foods in the world and it’s one of my favorite things about LA. Korean BBQ in Ktown is a must at Parks BBQ. A walk around MOCA Geffen and Little Tokyo Village ending with the intimate Hide Sushi. For a relaxing day, Pointe Dume is a perfect getaway for camping on the beach and therapeutically listening to the pebble rocks tumble gently with the waves. For a fun day in the city, walk around Historic DTLA and attend a live concert at the Hollywood Bowl with a picnic basket. Finish off with a Thai massage in Hollywood followed by family style Thai food at Pa Ord Noodles!

 

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Most importantly, my family has been my inspiration and support throughout my entire being. Especially my mom, Young suk Chi, has worked tirelessly and selflessly to raise our immigrated family, and never failed to give me words of strength and positivity. She and my late grandma had the most impact on me in terms of setting a positive mindset and living in harmony with our family and the people around us. You cannot live alone, they said. Helping people, and being helped is the way to live life. They always emphasized positive ways to look at every situation. My dad, Chun ho Chi brought our family to the US and gave me the opportunity and the freedom to be whomever I wanted to be, while he prayed everyday that I would become a valuable person in society.

 

Professionally, there are countless number of people that have brought me up in my career. My LOUPN family – Eunhee Cho, Lina Romeo, Kevin Johnson, and my husband and rock, Paul Nguyen (aka Bruce Lee) have been integral in finding my voice and discovering my calling to empower others. Benjamin Holtrop was my catalyst and muse for creating LOUPN, and has been an amazing partner in launching our first collaboration collection and more.

Throughout my career, the most impactful have been my manager and mentor from my very first full-time job at the California Science Center, Joe DeAmicis; Jason Chang, my Mr. Miyagi who helped me learn the ins-and-outs of digital production; Nirbhay Gupta and Mike Relich who taught me the world of retail and ecommerce; and Larry Bedrosian, who showed me the compassion and humility of a great leader. After launching LOUPN, many people lifted me up, including Quyenzi Dang Pham who had a huge impact by offering marketing advice, giving me a seat at her table, and encouraging me and other women to speak up. Yu Tsai has been a huge partner in taking us to the next level by bringing me into his community and working hard to increase diverse representation.

Lastly, Lola Schaefer and her book “Because of an Acorn” inspired me to be a small acorn that blooms into a magnificent oak tree, an essential species for the health of the entire ecosystem in the forest.

Website: https://loupn.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loupn_collection/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/loupn.collection

Other: Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@loupn_collection

Image Credits

Image Credits

1-4:
Photographer: Raul Romo
Model: Jimmy Kristensen
Stylist: Benjamin Holtrop
Groomer: Nicole Chew

5-7:
Photographer: Anais & Dax
Model: James Kweisi
Stylist: Benjamin Holtrop
Groomer: Keon Cruz

Grace headshot:
Photographer: Raul Romo
Stylist: Benjamin Holtrop
MUH: Elias Velasco

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.