From Influencer to EntrepreneurWritten by Christy C
How millennial entrepreneur Julia Doan evolved from being a hobby-blogger to one of Vietnam’s digital sensations with her own brand Floralpunk, an ecommerce business and two retail stores.
Within Vietnam’s bustling fashion community, Julia Doan is a name to know. At the age of 26, the fashionista has already taken the country’s fashion scene by storm, boasting 270K followers across her social media channels thanks to her impeccable taste and distinctive monochromatic aesthetic. Her ventures now include a personal lifestyle blog, a growing Youtube channel, a successful Instagram platform, partnerships with international corporations such as Adidas and Air Asia, plus a thriving fashion brand — Floralpunk — with two flagship stores in Saigon and Hanoi and a burgeoning ecommerce business.
It all started off with a blog Julia created as a hobby when she was just 13 years old. Born and raised in Germany to Vietnamese parents, she had a knack for fashion and social media, soon racking up legions of loyal followers, not least back back in Vietnam. “Even though I was still in Germany at that time, I felt this connection between me and the Vietnamese community. It’s like we kind of know each other,” she explains of the phenomenon. It was in internship in Vietnam at ELLE magazine working for former ELLE fashion editor Lâm Thúy Nhàn that opened her eyes to the potential of a multifaceted career. “When I was working with Lâm, she was doing all these freelance styling jobs besides her nine to five office job. In the evenings, I would see her making bracelets for sale at flea markets. I was impressed by her ambition and persistence. And I thought to myself, if I work hard, I can do the same!”
Returning to Germany, she determined to do just that, launching Floralpunk in 2013. “I didn’t think much when I birthed the idea of launching a business, I just went ahead with my gut. For me, launching my own brand was just another way to express my own style.” At first, it was a small online store on Shopify, where Julia sold a curated selection of items that reflected her personal style. The brand quickly capturing significant media attention in Vietnam, so in 2014, Julia moved there.
Despite her initial success, launching a business without any related professional background has been far more challenging than Julia first expected. “Back in those days, I had to google everything!” she laughs. “We faced myriad challenges. For example, we’ve always wanted to introduce to customers our in-house designed products. It sounded easy at first, but it took us a long time to learn how to actually produce things,” Julia recounts. The one area in which she felt confident, however, was in her brand’s look and how to make it appeal to a broad customer base – something that’s been savvy when it comes to courting customers. “I believe everyone has their own distinctive style. Floralpunk doesn’t frame customers into a particular aesthetic. Instead, we hope to inspire them to play with their own outfits. That’s why our products are mostly accessories, with which customers can add their own flair and a bit of personality to their attire.”
It’s been 5 years since its launch, and Floralpunk continues to blast its way into the local fashion scene with its stylish and affordable gamut of monochrome accessories including jewelry, sunglasses, bags and shoes. With one store in Hanoi and another one soon to relocate to Bitexco Financial Tower, the tallest commercial building in Saigon, it’s clear that Julia’s side-project has quickly transformed into a full-fledged business.
Still, according to Julia, staying on top of this influencer and business game takes not only a genuine passion for one’s product, but also a dedication to perfect even the smallest tasks. “My definition of success is to achieve any minor goals I set for myself. If I want to create a campaign, I make sure I put 200% of my effort into making that happen. When it’s completed, I consider that to be a success. It’s really the little things in our everyday life that make me feel successful. Because, for me, each of those little steps I take is a reminder of the progress we made.”