Vy Dao of Nurish Wellness: Innovating a Healthier Lifestyle

December 24, 2020
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Tell us about your business/company or hustle. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others?

We are a health and wellness brand and we take pride in creating innovative products that improve your overall health, provide the best performance products, and we pride ourselves in paving the way to an overall healthier lifestyle! We want to be able to bring the best experience as a company for our customers so they don’t feel like they’re alone and that we’re here to support them. Personally, I have a background in health/wellness and have been in the industry for 3+ years with holistic healing/natural foods and diet.

Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you got started and how you got to where you are today. You can include as little or as much detail as you’d like.

I started working as a front desk hostess/server at a Japanese restaurant, while in school, and worked at a corporate office doing accounting/finance. I officially quit the restaurant job after 3-4 years, then decided to quit corporate after 1 year because a friend approached me asking to be partners in an organic cold-pressed juice business. At the time, I was very scared and didn’t know how I was able to pay my bills (even though I lived at home with my parents) and also had to pay for school. I took the leap of faith and went all in, without any money saved up whatsoever and felt like I was made to take this leap of faith and figure it out as I go.

During that journey (doing the juice business), I had to work a side job (graveyard shift from 8pm-4am sometimes even later) to pay for my bills because we weren’t getting paid out with the juice business (like all start-ups). I was working the graveyard shift as a bartender/server for private events and wouldn’t sleep and pulled an all nighter to show up to the kitchen at 5-6AM to juice. I would be up working for 36 hours at times and went home after juicing and crashed. And at times, I was by myself. The grind was tough. We shared a kitchen with a restaurant owner so we had a window of time to be there to operate and produce juices for our customers and deliver them if needed. About a year later, we had to move to another shared kitchen because the restaurant owner sold his restaurant and so we moved into one of those Vietnamese coffee shops. They weren’t using their kitchen much, it was three times as small and pretty old. But I made it work and was thankful for everyone’s help along the way.

That went on for another 6-9 months, and I saved up enough money to invest into the business. We finally got a kitchen of our own, in the most ghetto neighborhood in Long Beach (really bad neighborhood and just grimey). But hey, it was ours and we were operating as an online business, so it didn’t need to be pretty or anything. It was workable. Still without paying ourselves out, the only thing that kept me going was that I believed in myself and the vision. I was very inspired at our juices can change someone’s life for the better. We had a lot of clients that had cancer and was sick and with the right diet with our juices, they improved dramatically. Eventually, we got investors in to open up a storefront.

After opening a storefront, the upcoming 3-6 months of my journey was horrible. When I say horrible, I’m talking about, “my life ending”- kind of horrible. Well, it felt like it. Things weren’t going well with my business partner/friend and it just went downhill from there, and I decided to exit the business. At this moment, I felt like I lost everything. Everything that I worked for many years… just gone. It felt like it was taken away from me and I was left with NOTHING. All that blood, sweat, and tears and sweat equity was for nothing. I was heartbroken and in a dark place and I finally got out of it by being positive and having grit. Grit was probably the only thing that kept me going because I knew someday, this was all made to happen to me for me to learn and grow.

A year passed, while battling depression and trying to figure out myself more… I was approached by a couple of people that wanted to do business with me. Some didn’t work out, some did and we did projects together. Then summer 2019 was when I was approached by a friend to join and create a health/wellness brand. That brand is now called Nurish.

We wanted a totally new product that nobody has seen before but also something sustainable, something that actually works, AND is healthy. The journey to get these products in 3D form was a STRUGGLE!

Have you ever had the rug pulled out from under you?

Well that’s how this whole process went…over, & over, & OVER AGAIN. There were constant bumps & roadblocks throughout this journey and I wish I could express it in a way where you could feel what I felt. It started out as just an “idea” and it sounded awesome and cool…but oh man, just to get this product here in 3D form was a struggle. At first, we were looking for a co-packer (back in late summer of 2019) to even take our project on. There was literally nobody. Nobody thought it was “worth it to just run a small batch” bc there was no equipment to fill a 2oz bottle, they’d have to invest in an expensive filler. Let alone a 2oz bottle that had a concept like this. The search for a co-packer was hard enough, we were so lucky to even find a formulator that used the correct measurements of each ingredient to make sure our concept actually worked. Well, after the fact that I had to be a scientist & did a bunch of R&D to come up with the ingredients I had in mind. Once we found a co-packer that decided to take our project on in Dec ‘19, I was thinking, “ok easy enough let’s just order the ingredients, supplies, and get this product launched.” BUT NOPE, that’s not what happened. Fast forward to March 2020, I had gotten everything in line; our packaging, our labels, the verbiage, health permits, raw materials & supplies, our co-packer ended up telling me the bad news that they couldn’t run production. HE TOLD ME THIS THE VERY LAST MINUTE AFTER EVERYTHING WAS READY TO GO. My heart sank, it was like someone dangled this in front of my face and as I was reaching out for it…and in a blink of an eye – it was taken away from me. I was devastated…

I was like WHAT DO YOU MEAN? WE’VE INVESTED IN ALL OF THAT AND YOU’RE GOING TO TELL ME YOU CAN’T RUN THIS PROJECT?!!!!! Seriously felt like I was being played. Of course I cried, and suddenly went into negativity mode where I was thinking to myself, “FML. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?!” I was going to get a heart attack, I felt mostly heartbroken and shut down. After some time of praying to the universe and God to pleaseeee let there be a solution, we found another co-packer through our previous co-packer. Even that process was full of anxiety, I would love to go into more detail, but pretty much every time I’d get a phone call…it was all bad news. This went on for several more months…and I felt like I didn’t have control over anything because I couldn’t just fly myself out of state to see what was going on because they weren’t accepting visitors due to COVID. Yes, this was all going on amidst the current unprecedented times the whole world is going through. This has got to be one of those crazy times in 2020. Everyone thought this was just some bogus idea and a unicorn that’s not real. Anyway, after getting my feelings played several times, it is FINALLY here. SO, check it out at http://www.nurishwellness.com. Everything is ALL NATURAL, SUPERFOOD BASED, and SCIENTIFICALLY FORMULATED! And now the journey is just starting…    

Photo Credit: Andy Vu and Josh Garcia

What specific obstacles or challenges have you faced while on your journey? What were they and how have you overcome them?

A specific obstacle or challenge I’ve faced recently is how do I continue to run a business in a pandemic? As a young CEO with a young team, we couldn’t fall on anyone’s experience in a similar economic environment. With retailers closing, major accounts scaling their orders back, and suppliers shutting down, we overcame this obstacle by treating the business like it was a person and answering the questions, “What does is REALLY need to survive” and “Where can we make cuts?”

Photo Credit: Andy Vu and Josh Garcia

What specific obstacles or challenges have you faced while on your journey? What were they and how have you overcome them?

One main challenge was that I wanted to give up so many times. It was really hard for me to keep being strong and I had to just keep pulling through every time. It’s just easier to give up, but I wasn’t going to just stop and give up.

What advice would you give to someone who is just entering into your field?

Don’t give up, keep going, and there will be hard times (failures & lessons) and it will feel like it’s never going to end but it will!

What quality or characteristic of yours do you feel is most important to you as an entrepreneur? Why?

Knowing that I’m not perfect and I make mistakes and that in order for me to grow and do what I need to do that I need to have humility and keep learning and growing.

How has AHN contributed to your journey? Who have you met along the way? What problems has AHN helped solve for you?

AHN has contributed to my journey by showing me that there are so many people that have to struggle on their journey and that I can be supported and there are people out there that believe in you and are rooting for you!

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