We had the good fortune of connecting with Tam Nguyen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tam, what are you inspired by?
I am inspired by my family and the community of which I feel a deep sense of belonging to. For me making the world a better place for my children and the next generation drives me each day to make a difference. One such group I’m honored to be a co-Founder for is Nailing It For America, a 5 member group of Southern California-based professionals who have made an incredible difference at a time when society needed it most. Starting in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus crisis, the all-volunteer Nailing It For America group has worked around the clock to help those most vulnerable working with partners to collect and deliver more than 1.2 million personal protective equipment worth approximately $30 million to protect healthcare and other front-line workers across the U.S. We also partnered with Orange County restaurants and others serving over 70,000 restaurant grade meals to the most vulnerable isolated seniors, families in need, veterans and mental health recipients. This is the most meaningful and inspiring movement I have ever been a part of in my lifetime. I’m proud to have been part of an all volunteer team doing it’s best work during the midst of a pandemic.
What should our readers know about your business?
I am a proud college president. In addition to running Advance Beauty College, I teach a business management class at California State University, Fullerton—my alma mater! Advance Beauty College—an accredited private beauty college that trains in nails, skin, and hair is a second-generation family-owned business and has been committed to the beauty industry and the community for 34 years. With nearly 50,000 graduates, we aim to inspire, educate and give back to the communities in which we serve. We have a deep commitment to care for and elevate our communities and we are an established leader in beauty education and that our passion to advance our industry through quality education is something we take tremendous pride in. We are most excited to have pivoted and provide distance education and that our next wave of future beauty professionals have the option to learn via technology while increasing practical skills.
I was born in Vietnam and came to the U.S. at the age of one when the Vietnam War ended—my mother and I were separated from my father, then reunited by the American Red Cross after three months.
We were poor growing up, but my parents worked seven days a week to be able to pay for my education and set me up for a better life. My parents had always expected me to become a doctor, so I got my bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and then went to medical school. When I finished medical school with my Doctor of Medicine degree, I realized that I wasn’t truly happy because I did it for my parents, not for myself. I faced my fear of disappointing my parents, made a career change, and pursued an MBA—it was the first time I felt truly happy and fulfilled by what I was doing. After receiving my MBA, I tried a few different business ventures before pursuing the family business – Advance Beauty College.
Although my journey was not a straight line, I have no regrets from what I have experienced. I’ve personally learned lots from each set back, mentor and chapter of my life. My mindset has shifted from a scarcity mode to one of abundance. One thing I would want to share as I reflect back is that “Hard work is the difference-maker. I believe in taking the stairs—there’s no elevator in life and also to always remember that tough times don’t last but tough people do!”
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I truly feel like I have the opportunity to live in the best place on earth here in Orange County, Southern California. In a week long trip for a visitor to come to Orange County I would be so excited to share my favorites spots.
Day 1- Garden Grove: Sleep in then late morning come visit my family business Advance Beauty College Garden Grove as together we receive some love for our hands and feet along with our face and hair. Our students would pamper us with a deluxe service mani/pedi before we get a facial service and end it with a haircut. We would walk over for some Pho before heading out for a House special or mung bean drink at 7 Leaves Cafe. We would jump on some e-scooters and then head down to visit the community garden, historic main street, down the path to visit playgrounds, and eat some of my favorite tropical fruits.
Day 2: Fountain Valley/Huntington Beach: Let’s go have breakfast at Cafe N Te while trying Bun Rieu crab noodle soup or the famous French Toast complemented by the selection of coffee and teas. After that a walk down the Green Belt, Mile Square Park or Huntington Beach Library would be in order before lunch at plant based Good Vibes Cafe with their selection of pressed juices. Ending the day on the pier with a walk along PCH while catching the sunset would be awesome after a home cooked meal
Day 3: Laguna Hills: Time to visit our other Advance Beauty College location in South Orange County. We can get a service that we were unable to get to from Day 1 then head over to The Empanada Maker in nearby Mission Viejo. We would also get to the Irvine Spectrum mid day for some Capital Seafood lunch. If we had the energy getting down to Laguna Beach and hanging out at the art galleries and catching a summer night festival.
Day 4: Anaheim: Let’s spend a day or two at the happiest place on earth as no trip to Orange County would be complete without a trip to Disneyland. After experiencing the magic and creating memories. it’s time to chill.
Day 5: Santa Ana/Westminster: Time to experience via bus the best of the LatinX and Vietnamese culture with local friends who know the area the best.
Day 6-7: It’s all about family and friends. Time to go visit some fellow Voyage LA friends and invite them to join us on a Boba tour, Popcorn chicken snack fest, local hikes, French bakeries, Gardens, Tropical fruits and BBQ’ing 🙂 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?
It truly takes a village and there are many people, groups and organizations that have made the community work possible. It starts and ends with my family so big shout out to my my sister, and my supportive wife and 3 kids, 5 Nguyening Hearts. Next my Advance Beauty College family whose unwavering support allows me to focus my efforts externally into the community. Much love and appreciation to the Nailing It For America co-Founders and collaboration partners Orange County United Way, California State University Fullerton, Moving Forward Together Coalition and my dearest friends – you know who you are. I’m so grateful for living my dream and have my heart overflow each day of my life. Lastly, thank you mom and dad who sacrificed everything to give me a better life and for that I don’t ever take a moment for granted.