promoter of all things food, fashion, asian american

Why "t collective"?

Someone who has played a huge part in motivating and enabling me [by humoring my questions and crazy ideas] is an artist I've collaborated with and soul sister, Cindy Nguyen. It just so happens that our Vietnamese names are exactly the same, last middle first: Nguyen Anh Thu. So naturally, when it came to naming this project of all projects, I knew I wanted it to be fitting for both our names.

Rewind to the beginning. After flipping through so many amazing magazines from Thirty Magazines and TOMO, I began to dream up a magazine club, instead of a book club. I could turn my dorm room into a space where students could kick back and chill, pick a new indie magazine they probably haven't heard of before, and read for fun. They probably wouldn't want to drop $10-30 a pop on these zines but I would (they're a hobby now I suppose, collecting them) and I want to share all these great finds with my community! Magazines are light and extremely quick reads but are not inferior in content to books in the least and I have fallen deeply in love.

So then I thought, a dorm room is a little cramped. What if I opened an actual space to do this? It'd probably be a cafe of sorts. Serve coffee and tea alongside a good dose of zines! And my design aesthetics for this are not already offered by any other cafe in town (if you follow me on Instagram you'd know that I'd know a good deal about them all #coffeeaddict.) This space... I could use it for gatherings as well, let people use it for pop-ups or host small parties - promote artists and craftsmen. A space where people could spend quality time together with new and old acquaintances. A space where reclusive people like me can wander to on their own and spend quality alone time amongst good reads and a comfortable space. And while I watched over this space, I could be doing some other side hustles as well.

Everything simplifies down to the tagline "studio | shop | communal space." This side hustle of all side hustles is a combination of all my passions in one place, which gives "collective." And if you pay attention throughout this post, you'll find where the "t" comesfrom.

Of course, unlike many others before me, I am not quitting a corporate nine to five job to do this, I have not worked many years (well, I sort of have, part-time, at the salon since I was eight, you could say), I have not even earned a diploma beyond high school yet. Which is why I'm taking this entire concept and putting it online first - to build reputation, repertoire, and experience. Not to mention a stronger financial base.

All the different parts of this concept, I have dreamt up at different times the past few years, but once I put it all together last Friday, and told Cindy about it, I could not shake the thought off. Pursuing one or any of my hobbies as seriously as this has been a scary idea and totally not in line with my or my parents' professional goals for myself. But this concept, this brand, was just too good, too attractive. I thought about it while eating, doing nails, chores, I literally had dreams about it, and over the course of the weekend, I had a Pinterest concept board going, a to-do list and had begun compiling a list of different costs like blueprint fees and business licenses. Before I hit the post button on Monday, I was a ball of emotions. Putting this out on social media meant a serious commitment, like announcing your engagement and wedding save-the-date. People might take me seriously, people might laugh it off and say "Oh Thu, so ambitious, so naive." Yeah, I'm still pretty naive. I'm only twenty after all, and not a single significant decision in my life has been made by me, having lived under my parents even throughout college. But I'm ready, armed with support from my loving friends and loads of inspiration from locals I know, to fail and try again, until I succeed.

(P.S. Wow this sounds so serious for a side hustle... but it's the side hustle of all my side hustles so it's a pretty big deal for me.)

Thu Nguyen