Sophomore launches Dyenosaur Apparel business

Demi Quach, Reporter

Successful. That’s one of many words to describe teen entrepreneur, sophomore Vivian Nguyen. She’s built her business up from only selling scrunchies for a school fundraiser to donating half of her proceeds to various charities. 

Nguyen runs her own small business by the name of Dyenosaur Apparel where she sells custom-made shirts, tanks, bucket hats and Nike socks. In just two years, she’s had various achievements due to her hard work.

“Since launching, Dyenosaur Apparel has been featured in numerous publications including Fort Worth Weekly Newspaper, Arlington Today Magazine, Zenerations Magazine, and GenZher Publication,” Nguyen said. “Through media outlets and features, Dyenosaur Apparel has been put in front of an audience of over 240,000 people. I was also the inaugural speaker for the 2020 Martin STEM Speaker Series in which I shared my story and experience balancing high school and extracurriculars.” 

Nguyen started her business when her junior high school decided to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. 

I started selling clothes in 2018 when I was in eighth grade, but never really intended to actually transform the endeavor into a business,” she said. “My local National Junior Honor Society Chapter was raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. With a predisposition to fashion and current trends, I decided to make and sell tie-dye scrunchies at school to help generate enough funds to donate and thought of it as a one time deal. However, after gaining such positive feedback from my friends and realizing how much I enjoyed both the creative and entrepreneurial process, I decided to keep pursuing the venture.” 

Because of such a humble beginning, Nguyen said she never thought her business would come as far as it has now. 

“Dyenosaur Apparel started out as a project I did on the side, just for fun,” she said. “It was never my intention to transform it into a living, and breathing enterprise. It just happened along the way. One day, a light bulb went off, and I realized how much I had fallen in love with creating and designing pieces as well as indulging in the entrepreneurial aspect. The rest is history. Almost two years later, Dyenosaur Apparel has grown to become one of the greatest accomplishments of my life.”

Nguyen said she aims to include everybody despite their differences and mentioned that due to the pandemic, she’s seen how brutal xenophobia can be after experiencing the effects of racism inside her community and school.

“As a Vietnamese American and person of color, cultivating and fostering a community of diversity and inclusion has always been an emphasis on my platform,” she said. “Dyenosaur Apparel was founded on the core principles of philanthropy and  charity, and so we offer more to the table than just trendy clothes. I’ve had first-hand experiences witnessing the effects of these issues inside of my community and even at school. Racism has always been a challenge I’ve dealt with as a fellow person of color in my community. With the ongoing pandemic, I’ve witnessed how brutal xenophobia can be.” 

With these issues going on in the world, Nguyen said she decided to use her platform to help bring awareness to social issues such as racial injustice and inequality. 

“Because I have a platform, it’s my responsibility to utilize it in the best way and to publicly combat social issues, such as racial injustice and inequality, and to advocate for diversity,” Nguyen said. “Social media can be more than just a leisurely entertainment platform to showcase our lives or curate an aesthetic feed. Instead, it can be cultivated to offer a direct platform to engage with an audience and influence them to bring about change through advocacy and social activism.”

In order to combat these issues in the world, Nguyen said she had to find ways to use her platform.

“Every few months, we launch charity campaigns, in which we showcase designs created by high school POC and donate 50 percent of the profits to various charities,” Nguyen said. “In light of the Black Lives Matter Movement and pride month, we launched a BLM + LGBTQ+ collection and donated 50 percent of proceeds to BLM + LGBTQ foundations; I’ve donated a couple hundred dollars so far from the last few campaigns. This month, we have launched a collection revolving around Suicide Prevention Month and National Mental Health Week.” 

With these various achievements, Nguyen has had amazing opportunities to share her experiences with others. 

“Recently, I was chosen to speak at GenZ Girl Con, an international global women’s empowerment convention that spanned over seven countries,” she said. “As a Women in Business speaker, I had the opportunity to share my experience and advice to over 800 registrants around the world. With my platform, I choose to advocate for female entrepreneurship because it is an underrepresented issue facing the future of our generation.”

However, success doesn’t come easy as Nguyen said she has had to face various difficult challenges. 

“The biggest challenge that I had to overcome when getting my business off the ground was developing an audience and gaining exposure to customers,” she said. “I had difficulty reaching out to a larger audience until I really grasped the significance of social media presence and marketing, which are integral factors of ensuring positive publicity and exposure. By curating a visually aesthetic feed,  frequently posting high-quality pictures, and interacting with customers, I’m able to stimulate interest, attraction, and have garnered over 120k views and amassed a following of 2.2k. Usually, I strive to post at least once a week and post on my story to keep viewers engaged and active.”

Despite these challenges, Nguyen said she loves her business and continues to inspire many others to make a difference. 

“My favorite part about running an organization is witnessing it inspire others to launch their own startups and take initiative to make a difference in their communities,” Nguyen said.

In the future, Nguyen said she hopes to grow her business to continue using her platform for good.

“I hope to expand Dyenosaur Apparel and continue to advocate for female entrepreneurship,” Nguyen said. “I’m also currently pursuing different sponsorships and partnerships from various small businesses and corporations around the Arlington area.” 

Nguyen said she isn’t sure careerwise but she has an idea on her pathway. 

“I want to pursue a career in business and medicine.” 

Despite Nguyen’s business being quite successful after only running for two years, she works with a team in order to carry out the business’s goals. One of the team members, sophomore Sierra Nguyen helps design the products.

“I’m a part of her design team which essentially is a group of us who confirm ideas for new designs and organizations we want to support,” Sierra Nguyen said. “I also modeled a few times.” 

Sierra Nguyen began this journey with Dyenosaur Apparel when she entered high school with Vivian. 

“I met Vivian back in eighth grade and going into high school our friendship grew and overtime she showed me the ins and outs of the business,” Sierra said. “Eventually, we formed a nice circle of team members to help pitch ideas and concepts for the business.” 

Sierra Nguyen said that Dyenosaur Apparel’s goal has definitely changed since the business had grown so much after only two years. 

“I’d say our original goal was to have a structured and established business,” Sierra said. “The brand started with just Vivian, but now that we have grown into a team, I’d say our goal now is to use our resources for the better. While we have standard lines of clothing and accessories, we have been focused on finding causes and organizations that support the morals that the business has been founded on.”

Sierra Nguyen mentions that despite being a small business, she’s proud of what they’ve accomplished so far. 

“As of now, I’m most proud of how much potential we have,” she said. “Specifically, with our BLM line, it was a realization as to how much we can do as a small business. Through the BLM line we got to show what we believe in as a team and I hope that in the future we can continue to show the world who we are and what we can accomplish.” 

Despite the pandemic, the Dyenosaur Apparel team has many ways in which they work together to carry out their goals.

“We communicate in various ways,” Sierra said. “Recently we’ve been giving pitches through Google forms to get a variety of opinions. We also (virtually) congregate to talk about plans and outreach opportunities. But simply speaking, we are a group of friends who have a like-mindset and respect towards each other’s goals and suggestions.” 

The team as a whole has a similar mindset and goal which helps them work together very well despite any differences they have. 

“Personally our biggest strength would be the respect that we have with one another,” Sierra said. “We all share common ideas, but of course, our opinions will differ on which direction we should be going. However, in the end we always hear one another out and find a common ground that orients itself around what is best for us and the business in the future.” 

Sierra said that being on the Dyneosaur Apparel team has been fun despite not being able to meet in person. 

“I’d say I’m still pretty new to the team and recently it’s obvious that we can’t physically meet, but we definitely still have fun over Facetime (playing games and things, not gonna lie it’s not always business talk),” Sierra said. “However, taking pictures for the business is also fun in itself, for it’s not something usually in my comfort zone.” 

Elizabeth Saxon teaches Advanced Art and had Vivian as one of her students last year. 

“I met Vivian last year for my first-period Advanced Art class,” Saxon said. 

Saxon said that when she first met Vivian, she seemed very hard working and managed to get any work she had done.

“Vivian has a quiet energy to her,” Saxon said. “She is reserved while she is working, and she is working on something all the time.  She could finish an assignment for my class and then dive right into another class’s work.  She is also outgoing and bubbly but not obnoxiously or fake. Other students would ask her about other classes or assignments, and she would always be gracious and warm in her responses.”

Saxon said she was impressed with how Vivian is extremely determined and humble when it came to her talent. 

“Vivian will always stand out,” she said. “She is extremely gifted in her talent and intellect, as well as motivated, but she never brags or appears arrogant. She has a confidence and a determination for her goals which is so honest and humble, that it is hard to imagine a world where she wouldn’t conquer every challenge or achieve every ambition.  She is a great artist as well.”

Saxon said she noticed how diligent Vivian was when it came to her business.

“I did know about Vivian’s job when she was a student,” she said. “I saw her website and thought she was either really sleep deprived or one of the most driven people I have ever met.” 

Knowing Vivian’s work ethic, Saxon said she understood how Vivian’s personality helped strengthen her business as Vivian tends to rely on her own opinion instead of others. 

“Vivian has never come to me for advice, but I also think that has everything to do with her personality as best as I can explain it,” Saxon said. “Vivian just knows what she wants, and she invests the time in seeing it come to fruition. It is not that she doesn’t need advice or help, but rather than asking around for people’s opinions, she goes right to the source and researches until she finds her answer.”