In this feature series, I briefly introduce some fabulous entrepreneurial ladies – a fun snapshot of the lady behind the business.
Hai Anh Vu, Little Bean’s Toy Chest
Describe your business in 25 words or less?
Handmade quiet books for children with exclusive themes and
designs. The books can be personanlised so they make
great gifts: super cute, unique, and personal!
Where did you live and what did you work at before you came to
I was a public relations consultant working for a multinational agency
in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Do you remember the first time you made a sale?
Of course I do remember, very well!
The first sale I made was after the first fair I attended, which was also my official launching moment.
A mom came by my table to look at the toys, and immediately after that she ordered three quiet books from my new website for her nieces and nephews in the UK!
I was ecstatic. That was the first online sale I made, coming from a non-
“family and friend” customer, and it gave me a lot of confidence that the
new business will work!
As a home business, where’s the weirdest place you’ve taken a
I don’t have a lot of work calls but I’m always online doing something
for the business on my phone or computer.
The weirdest place I’ve used to work outside the home is probably my daugher’s pre-school office (whereas other moms and dads going about there are doing some volunteering for the school!) They are very generous to give me the space.
What would you say is the worst idea you’ve ever had when it comes to your business?
When I first started the business, I saw some very beautiful products
in the US. I hastily purchased a big quantity and packed it all in a huge
box. I hand-carried back to Hong Kong for my shop, thinking I was
saving a lot of shipping cost that way.
Well, you can guess the outcome: the products did not sell very well and I ended up with a lot of inventory.
I have since learned to always take a “design thinking” approach –
testing out in small batches first to gauge local interests before
committing to a large wholesale order.
It pays off, even if the initial price you pay may be a bit higher due to small quantity.
What do your kids think about their Mom being an entrepreneur?
I have two daughters aged 5 and 2. They love it that I am around
more than I would when I worked full time in an office from 9am –
6pm (even if I spend a lot of that time at home on my computer
Like many other mumpreneurs I have been DIY-ing everything for my
Sometimes I get a “Wow Mommy you can do anything!!!” kind
of comment from my elder daughter as she sees me hacking
something in front of her eyes – like making a last-minute customised
cover to a special birthday order, or a killer fair display table out
of random scrap items I found at home…
Hearing her say that really is the sweetest cherry on top.
I hope she and her sister are learning to be resourceful and entrepreneurial from observing mommy at work.
Tell us one interesting thing about you that most people may not know.
I think many people see the beautiful books from my shop and
assume that I must be very crafty or good at making things, and that
I made all these books myself! In truth, I just have very average crafting talent.
The polished books you see in the shop are made by some hardworking handcrafters in Vietnam, who also have special tools to aid some processes.
That said, I do make books for my children (not commercially), and I
learned a lot about the processes from my team.
I’ve started holding quiet book making workshops in Hong Kong to share the techniques with families. I wanted to show fellow parents that you don’t have
to be very crafty to make your own quiet books. If I can do it, you can
do it too!
What would be your karaoke song of choice?
I always choose “Dancing Queen” at a karaoke gathering. I want to
get everyone up to sing and dance – that’s what karaoke is all about!
What wonderful gifts these books would make – beautiful, educational, unique and cute!
So ladies, if Hai Anh can do it, so can you. If you have always wanted to run your own business – Go for It, take that next step!
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