Looking back on how far I have come, from being a poor immigrant from Vietnam to running my successful business, I realize no one knows the whole story. I want to share it with you so that; hopefully, you can be inspired to overcome your circumstances and achieve the life you dream of.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet Alan Nagao, an inspirational hero of mine. Alan was born in Hawaii in the early sixties with severe congenital disabilities due to his mother taking Thalidomide during her pregnancy.
Like several other children, Nagao was born with disfigured limbs and a short stump as his right leg. Children at school ridiculed him and called him a monster or a robot because of his physical deformities. He said that even though God took something away from him, God gave him resilience and his smile. He claimed an attitude that paved the way to his extraordinary success as an entrepreneur. He is known for his marketing plan to sell Yoyos exclusively in Japan. He aimed to sell one million Yoyos and make a $1 commission per Yoyo. He faced tremendous rejection and nearly threw in the towel until he took the advice from his mentor that perseverance was a choice he could make. He made the right choice. Six months after lamenting no sales, he finally sold 1.2 million Yoyos. He made $1.2 million. He developed self-confidence, leading him to other successful endeavors like NuSkin, which is how I came to learn more about Mr. Nagao.
We all know it is the darkest before the dawn, and as an entrepreneur, I have also been in a dark place in life.
I WAS BORN IN VIETNAM and am half Vietnamese and half American. I never knew my father. Many children made fun of me during my growing-up years because of my heritage, and my school did not welcome me. I have a loving mother and younger siblings who supported me at home, but we struggled financially, and I never had an opportunity to learn, excel, and be myself. I managed to finish school and knew at a very young age that I wanted to emigrate to the US. While waiting for immigration documentation, I met and married my dear husband, Hung. He shared my vision and embarked on the journey to the United States with me. We started our American life in Syracuse, NY - in the winter. Neither of us had seen snow nor had the proper clothes to bear that deep cold that strikes you to the bone. With the help of friends, we decided to move to the warm city of Atlanta to start anew.
WE WORKED HARD; SOMETIMES IT SEEMED TOO DIFFICULT. I was discouraged because it didn't seem we were getting ahead. But as we adapted to our new home and with the help of many kind people, we started to achieve our dream. We started our spa. We went from two clients to thousands over the years. We have the most loyal clients who have been with us for 30 years! We both continued to increase our skills and our offerings to our clients. Along the way, we had our son and were able to provide him with the opportunities and education we did not have. Then, when our son was 16, we had our daughter. It was a joyful surprise!
THEN, IN MAY 2016, HUNG WAS DIAGNOSED WITH LUNG CANCER. As is the case for many non-smokers who get lung cancer, it was far advanced before it was diagnosed. But Hung was a strong man, both mentally and physically. Our daughter was only seven, and he was determined to be there for her and his whole family as long as possible. I believe this determination, just as much as any physical characteristic, let him survive as long as he did. But tragically, his courageous fight ended in October 2019. A side effect of his illness was huge medical bills coming at a time of lowered income due to Hung's inability to work and my need to be with him during treatment.
AS 2020 BEGAN, I WAS OVERWHELMED WITH A NEW DETERMINATION TO OVERCOME THIS NEW CHALLENGE. I had faith because I had done it before, but this time, it was complicated because I was also grieving the love of my life. Then, COVID hit. The spa was closed entirely for three months and open only selectively for another two. How could I work any harder than I already was? But while the spa was closed, though I couldn't eliminate the worry, I could choose to work hard amid my anxiousness to survive. I called cosmetology schools and landed a job teaching in the evenings.
SINCE THE SPA WAS CLOSED DUE TO COVID-19, I SOLD MY OBAGI PRODUCTS OVER THE PHONE AND SHIPPED THEM TO MY LOYAL CLIENTS. I sold gift certificates to keep some income flowing in. I researched skincare products to sell in my salon to create an alternate revenue stream. I was determined. I found NuSkin and began selling the products to my clients. The spa re-opened, I worked seven days a week, and we began to regain our footing. We celebrated my son's marriage to a wonderful young woman. My daughter was accepted to a beautiful school that will give her the foundation education she needs in middle and high school to allow her to follow her dreams.
I WAS SLOWLY PAYING OFF THE MEDICAL BILLS. BUT IT WAS HARD; I WAS TIRED AND NO LONGER HAD MY PARTNER. At this low point, I attended a Nu Skin conference and heard Alan Nagao speak. I sat in the audience and thought about his physical challenges more than 60 years ago when our world wasn't as accepting of people with his degree of handicaps. I thought about how he used his ideas and hard work to achieve his goals while maintaining optimism. I thought if he could overcome such physical challenges, I could overcome my mental challenges: those thoughts that tell me to give up or to give in to sadness and fear. Hung used his mental strength to hold off cancer longer than any doctor thought he would. I could overcome these financial challenges and keep the spa alive.
AND SO, I DID. Now, I don't think the challenges are over; I know that there will always be challenges in this life, and there will always be unexpected and even tragic occurrences. But at this time, at this place, Kim's Day Spa Buckhead, is in a great spot. My children are thriving: one has fully arrived as a productive and successful adult, and the other is mature beyond her years. The spa is better than it's ever been. We're well-positioned for the future. And the weight of grief has lessened, and there is fun and happiness in the world again. Meeting Alan Nagao again with that perspective was an opportunity to thank him for his inspiration, which helped me find out just how resilient I am.
I am taking the time to tell you about this story. If I haven't bored you, my account can inspire some of you, even in a small way. You can achieve your goals with insight, ideas, hard work, the help of those around you, and a little inspiration.