We had the good fortune of connecting with Nancy Nguyen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nancy, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Growing up my mom always talked about how she always wanted to own her own business, but raising three children she really didn’t have the time nor the funds. As I got older I wanted to fulfill her dreams through me, so I took my mom’s jerky recipe, created a brand with her name, and Mama Vann’s beef jerky was born.
What should our readers know about your business?
Mama Vann’s beef jerky started as a family recipe that would only show up around Christmas time and was never for sale, even though it was highly requested. It wasn’t until my younger brother needed a car and that’s when my mom asked me to sell it at my current job at the time. I started to sell to co-workers and friends to help fundraise for my brother’s car and the rest was history. I went from selling high end fashion to now selling meat! I’ve now created new packaging, built a warehouse, and launching our website. What I’ve learned is that, to be successful, it’s not about your experience but about what you’re willing to learn and how consistent you are. This journey hasn’t been easy and there are daily fires that I’m constantly putting out, you can’t give up and you have to be proactive on resolving the issues. One important lesson that I’ve learned is that you have to allow yourself to feel your emotions, it doesn’t make you a weak person to take a moment to breath, cry, do yoga, or whatever it is to help elevate the stress. Our story is more than just jerky. Mama Vann’s is a testament to the power of women, a mother’s love, and the bonds of family.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There’s so many great restaurants in Houston, it’s literally a melting pot! I have so many favorite restaurants so I’ll work my way around town. First stop for breakfast would be Baby Barnaby’s, the green eggs there with fresh squeezed orange juice is my all time favorite. Second stop is a low key lunch spot in Asian Town, grabbing the best pho in Houston at Pho Sapa. Third spot, sushi fan or not, I’m taking you to Uchi. Uchi is a place you go to with great company to enjoy great food with great service. Somewhere in between all the eating you have to walk off your food at McGovern Centennial Gardens, they have a lovely park and you’ll often find me there taking photos of Mama Vann’s.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if I didn’t have my mom, the support of my children, my fiance, and my friends. The day I decided to leave my long time job to start my own business, they never doubted my decision and encouraged me to follow my dreams. Starting a business is scary, starting a business during a pandemic is scarier, and starting a business in an industry that you are unfamiliar with makes you doubt yourself so it’s very important to make sure you have the correct support team in your corner cheering for you.
Yelp: Mama Vann’s
Design Team: Culture Pilot Photography Team: Captiv Creative