We had the good fortune of connecting with Joseph Nguyen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joseph, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Frndlyware provides affordable and sustainable drinking straws to reduce the world’s reliance on single-use plastics and to provide an alternative solution to the environmental crisis. We take the unused fibers from sugarcane stalks along with coffee and cacao beans and combine them to make a durable yet compostable material. Being made from 100% organic materials means our straws don’t overstay their welcome, breaking down 145 days after use. Each Frndlyware straw used is one less harmful plastic utensil that is added to the eco-system. Frndlyware hopes to replace all single-use plastic straws to foster the health of our environment and take charge in the consumer revolution to nurture a healthy planet for future generations.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I was born and raised in a small town in the state of Kansas where I attended a small local university and graduated with a mechanical engineering degree. I always dreamed of living in the big city and 6 years ago I found my way to Southern California where I started working for a large Aerospace company. I’ve been making my way up the corporate ladder but as I started to pay more attention, I noticed so many young and successful entrepreneurs here. I realized that this was something I wanted for myself. I decided to go to business school so that I could gain more knowledge into the business side of things but also to build my network. Coming from out of state, an engineering background, and raised by highly risk-adverse parents, I knew this was something I needed to do. I applied and was admitted to the USC MBA program and I am currently working full-time and finishing up my third and final year in the program. I believe the hardest part of getting to where I am today was actually admitting to myself that I wanted more in this life and taking that first step towards my goal. One thing I like to tell people is “just do something!” Similar Nike’s tagline, however my tagline just encourages people to just take that first step in the direction towards your goal. You may not know if that’s the right step but at least it’s a step and when you do take it, you may find that was not the right one. The great thing is now you know and now you can make an adjustment and take another step toward your goal. After so many steps you’ll realize that you actually took your life somewhere and you’ve made progress and growth. I believe that’s what life is about; it’s constant learning, progress, and growth.
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?
The best thing about DTLA is the diversity in the available things to do. Whether it comes to food, drinks, or leisurely activities; everything is available and it’s spread across the spectrum of cost and ambiance. Starting with food I would take them to one of my top restaurants, Bavel, since I’m a big fan of Mediterranean food. It’s a trendy restaurant and somewhat on the higher end of price range but perfect for a nice dinner. For a late night snack I would definitely have to take them to Avenue 26, which in my opinion, has the best street tacos. It’s basically a taco stand in the middle of a small street with no place to sit and everything is made right in front of you but that is what adds to it’s charm. There is also no shortage of places to hang out when it comes to the nightlife in LA. I’m into chill smaller bars that have a great vibe; Wolves and 7 Grand are a couple places that I would frequent before the lockdown happened. There are plenty more and I’m still exploring myself. Finally, there are plenty of things to get into during the daytime. I would likely take them Santa Monica one of the days to be around the beach. Another day we could check out the assortment of local museums and then there are plenty of hikes to go on if we’re looking for something more active to do. That’s the great thing about LA, even if you’ve been living here for awhile, you can always discover something new to do.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Frndlyware would not exist without my two Co-Founders, Leonel Soriano and Jose Romero. Together, we started on this journey to create a brand that would be synonymous with sustainability and provide a product we believe can help our growing pollution problem. I also have to give thanks to all my family, friends, and mentors for their all support and encouragement.