Episode 3

Andy Nguyen ·  From Apparel to Food to Building an Empire

“My parents thought I was a completely psycho as a kid going into real estate, then the clothing industry, and then open an ice cream store. They're like, "Why? Why open an ice cream store? Can you make money doing that?" But you gotta follow your gut instinct. You have to try and use this new situation as a way to prove, hey, I can be successful in this industry. I can make you proud.”

Andy Nguyen is the mash-up king in the food industry.” – Food Network

He co-founded Afters Ice Cream and has reshaped the millennial age F&B industry. With 20 locations in Southern California (and more to come), Afters Ice Cream has been both an entrepreneurial and social media phenomenon with thousands of people turning up for their store openings/events. And that’s only one of the many restaurant concepts Andy and his team have started, to spice up the new dining and lifestyle scene!

But Andy’s journey to ice cream-filled donut success wasn’t easy… Like many entrepreneurs, Andy and school didn’t get along so well, and he was quickly bored with his first “real” jobs.

After a dozen-plus year of struggle including adventures in real estate, re-selling sneakers, and Coachella VIP vendor, Andy founded a world-wide clothing brand, several food ventures, and a consulting agency, too. He has even started his own non-profit, Passion Chasers, to help the next generation of dreamers find their own entrepreneurial spark.

Andy’s story from the inside, including how he uses brand awareness and storytelling to appeal to future brand builders of their own. His influence and goals of helping improve the food scene and pumping new life into other cities. It’s his unorthodox approach and insights into modern branding, marketing, and how to get your grind on; that has set him apart from the rest.


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Podcast Transcript

Andy Nguyen

Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast my name is Bryan and my name is Maggie. We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.

Bryan: We’re happy to have Andy Nguyen in After Ice Cream here today joining us in the show.

Andy: (00:00:17) Thanks for having me guys a happy Thursday today, right? Yeah.

Maggie: (00:00:24) We’re super excited to have you on this show today. Andy Nguyen is the Co-owner and the founder of Afters Ice Cream they have multiple locations and we’re very excited to have you on board. Andy, can you talk a little bit about yourself and who you are?

Andy: (00:00:43) Yeah, thanks for the great introduction, guys. I’m, I guess people call me the serial entrepreneur. I own a bunch of different restaurant concepts not knowing anything about the restaurant field before this. I kind of fell into it and I found some type of success in it and I’ve been able to utilize that platform, on giving others opportunities at the same time.

Bryan: (00:01:08) I do want to hear more about your humble beginnings because we’ve been listening to a lot of your other interviews out there, we want to hear about your story about you just finding your way, like you being comfortable in your skin is inspirational, especially for the people inside of Asian Hustle Network and the newer generation is trying to find their way because again, I think for, for the fact that given the social media outbursts, everyone’s kind of like falling in with whatever trend and kind of hiding themselves and not being true to who they are. And you’re at the opposite, you know, you’re so comfortable of who you are and that’s how you created so many successful brands after who Andy Nguyen is so we want you to kind of walk us through your upbringing?

Andy: (00:01:46) I was born in Orange County in 1984 my parents came here after the fall of Saigon in 1975, my dad was a pilot and then my mom, came here on the boat, I think they started in North Carolina and then once Minnesota, Northern California, and then they ended up down in orange County land in Orange County after that.

And they’re placed in this Little Saigon, which is the largest Vietnamese community, I believe outside of Vietnam. So, growing up in this area, you know it’s a little interesting because, you know, you feel If you walk around, I could stick her to me. Normally you don’t have to learn English if you’re in this area.

But also, you have a mix of other kids because when I was growing up, I still had a lot of Hispanics and white friends, and trying to find that balance. So, I, you know, do I fit in here and how am I learning this culture, but also learning from my parents and sticking to the Vietnamese culture at the same time.

You kind of feel like at you’re at home, but you also feel like you’re an outsider and that’s the same thing when I went, you know when I visited Vietnam I feel well, this is like my people, but I feel like an outsider.

Maggie: (00:03:02) That’s so true, I think a lot of Asian Americans feel the same way because when they go back home to their motherland, they don’t feel like they fit in. But then at the same time, like here in the US we also feel that way right. So, we’re trying to identify.

Bryan: (00:03:16) I do feel you on that part, we’re both Vietnamese and I did live in Westminster for two years near ​​Phuoc Loc Tho. And like, as you said, you kind of forget that you are in America because everyone speaks Vietnamese and the food is so cheap, you know, like lunch is like four bucks.

We have rice and skewer. Yeah. I mean, that’s good that you came from that kind of background, but we also lived in Westminster for two years, I realized that the neighborhood is a little bit rougher, you know, it’s always constantly changing. I mean, it’s personal for me, my friends, that group in the OSI tends to be more on, you know, less entrepreneurial, but more focused on like family and everything.

But you talk kind of, kind of easy to say that they fell off the path a little bit. They’re more central to his family, you know, take care of our family, but not towards entrepreneurial or focus on education. How does it, did you feel the same way when you were growing up in Westminster and how did you stay so focused?

Andy: (00:04:17) I don’t think I was focused early on, as a kid, I was trying to fit in as a kid. I just wanted to fit in with my friends. I just wanted to fit in, I was just the Asian kids. I wonder if he did with the white kids. So, I started, you know, I tried to skateboard the white kids to try to play basketball with the black kids and the Asians that we just all mixed in, you know, find our fitting within all the groups.

It was, it was super confusing. It was, it was like a learning process through it and I think the more trouble I got into, the more I started realizing, hey, this is not, this is like, definitely not who I am. I’m falling into these circles, but this is not me. If you hang out with me, you know, I’m the quiet one.

I’m the shy one out of the group, but then I just keep getting in trouble, give you the worst grades possible. I think, I think once I got kicked out of school, which is like a no-no in, Asian, my Asian parents. I got kicked out of school, my freshman year of high school at the end of it.

I was applying, to go pick up my schedule for my sophomore year. And they were like, they have, they have this letter like, oh, you need to go see the vice-principal. She was like, oh, you can’t kick that in school. And I was like, oh, I’m dead. I’m dead. This is over.

Maggie: (00:05:31) I’m assuming you, your parents are super traditional. Right? Like what, what, what were they trying to kind of instill in you? Like, what was the reaction when you got kicked out of school?

Andy: (00:05:42) Oh, they were like, you know the Vietnamese talk, you know, the, all the cuss words and disappointment the worst things ever. They’re just trying to figure out what’s wrong with you?

How, how are you born here? And like, not doing well, you know, you speak English, but you’re not doing it. You’re failing English. And then you know, your dad is like great at math, but you’re like the worst at it. These are the things they know they’re poking at but they didn’t understand what I was going through at the same time.

Just like I mentioned earlier, I was trying to fit in, but then my freshman year was filled with like a lot of gangs at my school. And I was getting picked on that entire freshman year. So, my mind was not focused in class. I couldn’t get it; I couldn’t dial myself in. And they try to, they try to find like a private school that would take me to try to find tutors, but then no one would accept me.

So, I had to go to continuation school. And I think in those, those moments, I started realizing a lot of things like, hey, I can’t continue this route. I don’t, I can’t like when you go to continuation school, everyone, there it’s either a gangster or they’re pregnant or, you know, like the things that I don’t imagine myself as, like, I don’t fit this role.

I’m not a violent guy. I don’t even like, I don’t, I shouldn’t be here. So, going there. The first week is you, you only go there once a week to pick your homework up. And the rest of the week, you’re pretty much I’m at home the rest of the week and at home, you know, we didn’t have you know we didn’t have cell phones that knew we’re on the computer and nobody’s on aims.

So, I can’t talk to anybody. I was in class and I’m just at home, like bored out of my mind, like, hey, like it’s kind of like right now, like we’re in like a, like a house arrest quarantine type of thing. But with nobody there and I had to like dig deep in my head for it. This is the route I want to continue to go and discipline parents, or do I break out of my shell and show everyone, you know, who I am and not worry about what everyone else thinks of me.

I decided to choose the other route and I got back into my high school, my junior and senior year, I started performing pretty well in grades but I think my social aspect is what changed from being quiet I started, you know, I became like the school’s best dancer. I became the school, my school, the school is best dressed.

You know, the name of the school’s best dress. I got the social in my yearbook. I’m the social butterfly title. So, all these weird things are the opposite of who I was and I got a chance to like reinvent myself coming back but a lot of those attributes are what I applied to where I am now.

You know how I speak in front of stages and things I would never do before, you know, like. I’m more open. I’m willing to take more risks. I’m not afraid to do, to try things. And I think that shifts from learning about, you know, my Asian culture, seeing American culture and then like hip hop and basketball and going around those things that, that shaped me on breaking out of my shell.

Bryan: (00:08:30) You bring a lot of good points, I think everyone has sort of hit this sort of rock bottom to kind of reflect on who they are. And these are the people who never hit rock bottom. That always ends up wondering what if I did this? What if I did that? Because he never had anything, a huge setback, he had to reflect on it.

Hey man, like my life’s not going the way I want. I want to take more risks now and do this when you are back because I’m not happy. You know, if your life is always dandy, you never stop to reflect upon and grow to this level you know so I feel like you this bad situation, you took it and made something great. And also helped you develop as a person too, as you mentioned you’re quiet before, and then you came back or outgoing, you’re a dancer, you know, these sort of attributes that you drew upon when it came time to become an entrepreneur, you know because you fail so much before you weren’t afraid to fail anymore, you know, you kind of see that as your reflection in your stories that you’ve been opening like before and afterward, you had that philosophy is looking, I fell so hard already.

Who gives a damn if I fail some more, I’m still out there, it makes me happy you know, I don’t care what you think because I’m comfortable with who I am. This is how we see you, Andy, when you see you as a role model.

Andy: (00:09:42) Thank you I appreciate those words. 

Bryan: (00:09:43) I mean, it’s also good to reflect because I do have a story to share too. I have failed pretty hard, you know. When I graduated my senior year of high school, I did something pretty bad. And I got kicked out of the schools I applied to. So, I was going through a massive reflection. Similar hearing your story is very similar to my story because my master reflection made me comfortable with who I am right now.

And the fact that listening to you and your entrepreneurial journey, the Asian Hustle Network is built upon that experience. Now, I’m like, you know what let’s go out there and fail. I already failed so hard I don’t give a damn.  

Andy: (00:10:20) Exactly what’s the worst thing that happens am right at the bottom right. How much lower can I go?

Bryan: (00:10:28) Yeah, man. I mean, we want to hear more about your story when you turn 18, and your entry into real estate during out. what didn’t you like? What did you like? And you, you know, we heard stories and we heard your speeches before about you tressing over to the streetwear apparel and then, and then food. And like, you want to hear more about that mindset, 18, man, where was I at? You know, like, what was, I want to, what do I want to do?

Maggie: (00:10:53) Like you are a serial entrepreneur. Do you know what you’ve been in real estate, appraisal, you know, apparel, food, all of these different industries, at the same time, I also want to take it back. And like when you were 18, even before you were in real estate, where you. Did you have the intention to go into real estate? And like, were you planning on applying to jobs and going to the corporate world? And what was that experience like? Or did you just kind of full-fledged go into real estate?

Andy: (00:11:19) I took community college because that’s where I was supposed to go, was supposed to, you’re supposed to go to college and you graduate, you know, I never, I did not know what the word entrepreneurial, like that was not determined my head. When I heard the word like business, like business and business owner, all I imagined was the guy in a suit was looked back here, like coming in, like snaky attitude or something.

Like, that’s what all I picture is, you know, what you watch on TV and in movies. You’re like, hey, well that’s not me. So, I can’t imagine myself doing that. I took community college. I went for a year and a half close to two years. And I was getting in that weird cycle again, where I couldn’t figure out my footing.

And I was like, I don’t even want to go to class. This is different from high school. At least high school is a social setting. Now you’re in, there’s like this giant school and you’re back to like now, you know, nobody there. So, I took the, I think career planning was the class that like set it off right.

Career planning gave me a bunch of surveys. So, I think all these world’s word surveys and that can kind of mark your attributes and whatever you can do great at and the things that came out were like a janitor and an office admin. And I was like, oh shit. Like, no, no, no, no, no, I’m not doing any of this.

There’s no way, like in my head I’m thinking like, hey, I’m going to be a music producer or a sports agent, or they’re like all these cool things. And I was like, whatever, you guys just handed me here and it’s not cool. That’s not what I’m going to do and real estate, I had no idea what real estate is about, you know, like at a kid and early 2000s at 18, 19 years old, I had no idea what that meant.

I just knew you know, those, how you, you buy a house and that’s pretty much it. My best friend, happened to work for a younger Asian gentleman and he jumped in, he worked for him in the real estate appraisal industry, and he kept telling me one day he was telling me, hey this guy’s young.

He’s driving like a range Rover is like, he’s doing all these cool things and he owns his own business. He’s like, you should join me and learn this real estate appraisal thing and I was like, yeah, whatever. He’s like, you can make a lot of money. I was like, okay, well, I don’t care.

Like, money’s not, you know, like I’m living okay right now I’m surviving. So, but when he said, you know, we just, we can start our own company. Yeah. Like, what do you mean? You can start on the company how’s that even possible? It was, well, we just sent a copy of what that guy did and we can do it ourselves.

And I think that’s what sparked me to like, just jump in and be like, you know what, what do I have to lose? Like, I’m not doing anything in college right now. I have like a part-time seasonal job at the Banana Republic, but it’s not going to do anything. Let’s try that. I’ll do it.

So, I went to a real estate appraisal school, I took my courses and I think he is my best friend convinced about seven of us to all join and does it. And I’m the only one out of the entire group, which is like, I’m already the worst. I was the worst in school. I was the only one in the past, who got past my license.

I got my license and I learned the system. I learned the game and I became a real estate appraiser. I was the person to sign off all my friends’ files and everyone’s in our office. And I learned how bought a lot about networking. I learned about business professionalism, a lot about like lingual, how to talk to people, how to dress.

When you come from, you know, present yourself and these are skills and real, and even company structure, like the structure early on, like, those are things I had to do. Through that and really going out there and putting myself out there, because I’m still 19 kinds of like 19 years old, 19, 20 years old.

You don’t picture me coming in there and you’re praising your house or you’re like, you sure this guy should be appraising, I had to let my, I let my work prove itself. You know, I had to continue to push and grind to make it work because, you know, we’re, we’re pretty much like the youngest real estate appraisal group out there at the time. But we made it happen and we’ve learned how to make it. But I think in that, in that realm and that type of work was something that I started realizing that I didn’t enjoy but that’s kind of where it led me to my next industry.

Maggie: (00:15:34) I mean, it sounds like this real estate appraisal job kind of just set it off for you, like set the tone for entrepreneurship for you, and you learned a lot of skills along the way. But it seemed like you were more about passion over profit, right? As your friends said, you can make a lot of money with this job right. But you’re like that didn’t kind of affect you. You’re like I would rather do something that I’m passionate about. I think that’s inspiring. So, tell us about, you know, like what your experience was kind of going through that transition of like going from real estate to apparel. And, you know, how you were able to get into that field in the first place?

Andy: (00:16:15) I had, another friend that I used to go around and party with all the time. And he went to a different, you know, we went to different schools. He was a business owner at the time as well. He had, he was working for an internet agency and he was also starting up his clothing brand. We started up this brand called Accentuate and he hit me up one day. He’s like, hey, I need you to be a model in my lookbook. I was like, I’m not a model. There’s no way I’m going to do it. He goes, he goes, I’ll give you, I’ll give you a bunch of free clothes. I was like, oh shit, free clothes. I’m down. Like, where do I meet you out? Let’s go. Let me know what time I’m there. Did the photoshoot super embarrassing, super uncomfortable but you know we built a bond through that and he was looking for an office space.

And he kept talking to me like, hey, how about we just, I can’t, he’s like, I can’t afford one. And you guys are, you guys are making a lot of money, but you’re working out of your parents’ house in the garage. So, he’s like, hey, let’s get enough office space. So, we got this like tiny, like 200 square feet office and he’s on one side of the room and three of us on the other side of the room doing our real estate thing.

But then you could see me every day helping him and I’m like, hey, he’s not making any money, but I’ll help you out for free because you’re in the same room with us. And what you’re doing is way cooler than what I’m doing. He had a partner for it, but his partner was like really there and they ended up having a fallout.

He ended up closing that brand down and he came up with this new idea for this brand called Resolve when he created Resolve, I asked them. I was like, hey, you know, we, you know, I have some money. Can, can I invest some of my money into your brand? I want to be a partner and he told me no, he’s like, he didn’t think, he said, I don’t think you’re ready.

I have someone else interested. I’m probably going to go that route and I was so upset and fired up. I was like, you know what? I got this idea. So, I went back, I went back to my best friend and I told him, I was like, you know what? This real estate thing is cool, but I don’t see myself doing forever.

Let’s go start our clothing brand. We’re going to go take these guys out. My mindset you know, I’m ready for war. I’m going to take these guys out right now. So, I started developing the idea of creating my clothing brand but I still stuck with real estate for a while. So, I helped them in the beginning as like,

Andy: (00:18:50) I think I told them a few months into it and as they started getting weird along with not mine. My friend that started, he was okay with it and I think the other guys on the team were getting upset by the time I was like, I’m getting ready to leave.

I’m going to go start my own thing. There are a lot of roadblocks ahead with me and that brand going along, along the way. So, I started drawing up ideas and started putting together a team. Started bringing people down like designers, sales, and reps, and I learned the game from help, pretty much. I learned what I learned from helping my friend from a receipt but then starting up my brand, I thought I knew what I was doing, but I was like, dude, there’s so much more that I didn’t know and this is going to be a lot trickier than I thought. We still did the real estate thing. I think appraisal thing for another year into it, we kind of like slowly started drifting away as a sales start picking up on the clothing side, then we’ll stop.

We’ll start doing less and less of the real estate thing. So, we transitioned, transitioned out, and started the brand about two in the year, 2007. We launched our first collection and I think 2008, was on things are picking up a lot more steam from there.

Bryan: (00:20:04) I feel I’m just falling and he’s packer now, you know because I know I live in Westminster for a couple of years and I got into real estate too. I got into real estate completely by accident. I never intended to be, I moved up to the bay area and I realized how damn expensive was here. Okay. I need to pick up another side hustle. So, my roommate at the time was getting into real estate. He’s like, Hey, in the real estate with me. So, I got into real estate before. For the past four or five years now, all we do is flick a bunch of houses. You know, we’re making, like, I don’t want to Chris’ out on whether a shit load of money, 15,016 and 2017. Whenever you bought, you made money on it because the market is so strong. Exactly. I liked it. I was 19. I started getting smashed. I’m like, dude, I’m going to stop buying like an idiot, you know? So actually, thinking about the foundation stuff, but similar to you, it’s around this time where I started thinking about what else made me happy, you know?

Like you realize that yeah, the money was okay. The money is good, but then it didn’t find me too happy. It didn’t make you feel forced to build. And I do agree with you, the skills I learned for real estate dude are amazing. Right? I can talk to anyone. Now

Andy: (00:21:20) You have the link, you understand the business lingo, especially the real estate. You learn how to talk to people. You learn how to sell, introduce somebody, you know, like show them places you learn about construction too. You know, everything that you do.

Bryan: (00:21:30)  Everything in real estate is all EQ too. I think that’s equally more important in business than IQ. For sure. You’re going to have to be able to talk to people that whom you have nothing in common. How do you stimulate a conversation where you’re your age difference, like 40, 50 years, or your hobbies are completely different? You know some help a lot. I kind of got more into sports. I started watching more sports. Cause I’m like, everybody likes sports. I can talk, I can tie my best ice breaker. Yeah. So, every time agrees with you, man.

And then just funny too, that you said, oh, I started my clothing brand and cause this guy said no to me. So, here’s the history of Asian Hustle Network. Let me start at the Asian Hustle Network because you post it inside a different group and he got rejected. Hey, have more entrepreneurs come together and share theirs.

And pulse and their group when he got rejected. Right. That’s what Maggie and I looked at each other, like, we’re going to take them out.

Maggie: (00:22:29) We were like, we can be better than them.

Andy: (00:22:30) I looked at, look at you guys and you guys have built something truly amazing. And I, you know, I’ve been, you know, I’ve been on Facebook. Well, well over a decade now, and I’ve never, I’ve never been active in any group like that. Like ever, I’ve never written a comment like this is. The most, I’ve met a lot of people through it during quarantine that does zoom meetings through like a bunch of different people all day. So, what you guys are doing is very impactful, for the next generation of entrepreneurs

Bryan: (00:22:55) That means so much, a lot of commonalities, you know, Real estate into a different venue.

Maggie: (00:23:05) I think it lights the fire up like you’re way better than the other people are doing it.

Bryan: (00:23:12) As we were creating it, we realized the passion that we’ve found in it. It’s just people like yourself joining and some other like awesome people that joined that I’m going to think, oh wow, like we’re doing something cool here and the more that we think about it. We stopped thinking about profits. We start thinking about value and making a difference and how to leverage our influence, especially during foreign teams to make a difference. You know, and we’ve seen that with you too, you know you’re probably, you give a lot back to the orange county community.

You rep orange county on your shirt, on your hat, everything and that’s sort of that kind of pride that, that we, we look at you and be like, wow Andy’s leveraging his influence and knowledge to decent grades and we oftentimes do you talk about you when we brainstorm, but what’s his deal, what to do next you know?

Maggie: (00:24:01) I think what’s so special about like all of your businesses like Afters Ice Cream and orange county, you create a culture and a commodity. Right. And make people feel like they’re welcomed and included. And that’s what makes people connect with a brand, you know? And. That way they know, oh Andy, like I know him.

He is the owner and founder of Afters Ice Cream and they connect in that sense. It’s really important to make that connection because otherwise if you know, they see that you don’t believe in the brand, or if you’re not passionate about it, then they’re not going to be passionate about it either.

Bryan: (00:23:12) We want to hear some of the projects we’ve been working on the team, we’ve seen them all over your Facebook, your Instagram. I do like what made you decide that you want to get back to your city? Yeah. What kind of projects are you working on?

Andy: (00:24:48) I think with, the orange county project that I was developing had this weird, like, you know, people think of it and weirdly, they think of it like the TV show or the movies that they’ve seen or know the protests in Huntington beach. And I’m like, that’s not like that’s not the word. Just kind of, I grew up in, you know, I grew up and that’s like a different, that’s like a different side of orange county.

There’s, there’s a big Asian culture over here. There are a lot of unique and big talents open in this area. And I couldn’t ever find it. Anything to represent my area. And I was like, okay, well, I, I got inspired. I went to Oklahoma City, and my friend took me to a tourist shop over there. And I was like, you know, I don’t want to buy a tour, like corny tourist gear.

I’ve seen, like, you know, you kind of see all those in SF and New York. You see. I love NYC. I was like, I don’t that’s whatever. And when he took me, it took me to the gift shop and I was like, whoa, this is a gift shop. Like, everything is well-designed well, curated. Like the pieces are well thought out. And I was like, you know what?

I’d love to do something with that from orange county. If people wear it like, well, it’s not cheesy. You know, it looks cool. You can wear it and give somebody within their oh wow. I rep this and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything like you don’t have to be from here. I just enjoy the place and just like a great design, a well thought out.

I wanted to start, so I have the gift shop coming soon. It’s opening hopefully in the next few months, but I wanted to start through apparel because that’s what everyone knew me as my past. I was well, let me start the story off through apparel because it’s where everyone knows me for but then everyone thinks is a pair of right now until I start opening the shop, the, understand the message of more, what I’m doing but I just wanted, I guess I kept seeing pretty well orange county wearing LA hats. I’m like, you guys are not from LA. It’s not worried that you need to start wearing, you need to start ripping orange county and people ask where you’re from there. I was like, oh, we’re from LA. I’m like, no, no, I, I always make, I always make sure I tell people like, I’m from orange county and they say this, no Disneyland’s in LA. I was like, no, Disneyland is an orange county. Like, correct them.

Bryan: (00:26:54) Loved that idea. I mean, I do. Yeah. I do have a lot of pride in where I grew up too. Me. But then it’s hard to reps in April because what do you wrap a mobile cup?

Andy: (00:27:06) That’s a good definition of the area. So, it might be a good representation of it,

Bryan: (00:27:09) I mean, for me, I went to UC Irvine. So, I didn’t see a lot of orange county representation when I was there. I think what you’re doing is great, you know, put us like, put OC on the map that you want to see more OC years in the era and I guess maybe it’s a part of the Asian culture there. We don’t express ourselves fully to own our heritage, but you’re right.

I mean, when people think, OC is like, oh, you’re from Laguna beach, but you know, obviously the best bars in Westminster. Yeah, man. I mean, what else, what kind of, I mean, you talked about the stories that you’re creating. I know your awesome food court in orange county. Can you kind of walk us through that to you and like what was the inspiration behind that and the vision behind them when one of your expectations to be open?

Andy: (00:28:03)  So, the Rodeo 39 project is a marketplace it’s inside of a plaza that my group helped develop. So, this is like my way back into I’m like back into real estate, but now more on the development side, and creative side.

So, it’s the things that I like best about things and putting it all together. I got approached for this, for this project and they’re like Stanton and I was like, oh my God. I used to hang out in that Plaza as a kid, going to the movie theater there, going to the arcade, arcade down the street you know, there’s a bunch of shops that used to be here and this place has been abandoned for years. They just placed the DMV randomly there, for a few years, but now it’s all gone and when they got me for the project, I told them, I’m like, hey, you need to bring some, you know, we need to bring something different to the area we need to, how do we, how do we show that orange county is super progressive?

How are we thinking forward? How are we bringing the community together at the same time? So, we work on this concept of not just food, you know, everyone knows me for food. So, the food is like expected right in my portfolio. And I was like, you know, I don’t want, I don’t want to be known for just food.

I believe that I have more skills than that and as you know, from shifting industry, like guys, like don’t, don’t put me in that bubble of being just a food guy. I’m, I have a lot more skills. So, with rodeo 39, I want to bring together experiences. I want to bring together people to enjoy being around each other like enjoying the present moment I wanted to apply

well, we have like a given we have the orange county gift shop in there. We have a tattoo shop. That’s like glass, like in the middle of the place where you can sit and eat and you can watch people get tattoos. We have an awesome flower shop. We have like a cool bakery. We have performances and like, you know, local artists are doing painting and just trying to bring a lot of these experiences, get together and getting people out and just not be stuck and known for food.

Cause I think, I think retail can still thrive and that’s also my thing because everyone says, you know, that retail is the dead term that you’re hearing and I always tell people that you only say that because you’re so dated and you don’t understand what’s going on. You’re not paying attention to these new experiences that.

Are looking, for now, this new generation, you know, we expect more, we’re smarter consumers now right. So instead of just forcing a product down our throat, let’s just bring you an experience and get you to fall in love with what we do, and then they’ll make sure they’ll stay on after that.

Maggie: (00:30:25) I love how you are incorporating your previous experiences, like with real estate, your skillset in that area. Right? Putting that into rodeo 39 and then you’re also incorporating orange county vibes into,

Bryan: (00:30:39) Andy is the master of pivots. It comes to show that for everyone listening out there, you’re not pitching any reinvent yourself and redefining yourself at any point in your life.

Maggie: (00:30:52) I know like for Rodeo 39, you were already starting to plan it even before COVID had happened. Can you talk about what that experience was like if there were any setbacks, I know right now you guys are well on your way to opening rodeo 39 pretty soon, but what kind of like struggles and setbacks did you face during COVID-19 for that food hall?

Andy: (00:31:14) Once we heard the announcement of the lockdown and large gathering as being a bad thing, You know, this is where like, okay. Our whole, our whole idea just got shot to hell. Like we’re, we’re screwed now. Right? Like this is the splice was Mays made for large gatherings and, and being closer than six feet from each other. Yeah. You’re like, you know what, like this, this is bad and it’s, it’s not like overnight. We figured it out and it took us a few weeks to pay attention to what was going on with the news because you don’t know what’s going on is getting worse. What’s going on? I think we, you know, have to figure something out. We have to pivot how long what’s going on, because this is now the new norm is it’s, you know, things are going to happen and this is out of control, but we can’t stop the project.

So, let’s, you know, work on delivery services, work on like contactless experiences. Let’s try to figure out a lot of different things. And I think right now we are implementing a lot of ideas that and yeah, we’re at what we’re in the week. I think quarantine week, we’re going to week 11 next week but it took it didn’t, it wasn’t like overnight like I think the first two, three weeks, it was just like adjusting and trying to figure out what’s going on.

Like, and do we can do it, go to see construction? Because I didn’t visit the site until maybe week eight or nine. Like I haven’t been there in a while and then I came there and they’re still doing construction. I got there. Wow. Like this can still happen and we still have a chance to do it right and let’s just be smart about it.

Let’s not rush to open it. Let’s just make sure we do it right and make sure that people are safe and when it does open and people are going to crave experiences again, then people are going to crave going out. You can see it right now people are tired of staying home. For sure. Yeah.

Bryan: (00:32:54) I agree that one means we have quarantine fatigue right now, too. I walk around in 

Bryan: (00:33:12) I mean, it’s pretty awesome that you do all these projects for you, but in business, you always have to find the right partnerships. How has your partnership experience been throughout your career and what? We want to hear about some of the lessons learned how’d you move on from your partner and how do you take it? How do you take it? It’s the most difficult part of the business. It’s stuff. That idea. It’s not the execution. It’s the people.

Andy: (00:33:14) Of course, I think. And I think you’re right on the dot. That’s like a lot of things, a lot of times people don’t like to talk about those things or, you know, they, they get burned one time and they’re done forever. They will never, they will never do business again. They’re like I did business, I got screwed. I’m never going to go into that again. I think I, my best friend, my first business partner happened to be like the perfect yin yang. You know, he filled in the gap, my gaps well. He did the things that I didn’t like to do.

He’s a numbers guy, he likes the backend of things. He doesn’t like to talk to people. Cool. Well, I like to talk to people and I like, to be the front face of designing. I don’t mind those things and I think, we understand each other’s roles so well that we’ve been able to work until now.

You know, we’re almost getting close to two decades of working together that made me a lot more open to working with other people but along that line, once I started working with other people, I started realizing that everyone’s like my best friend, you know, not everyone is I can fill in the same gaps.

But I think throughout the process, I’ve learned that. I take their lessons with every single partnership, even the bad ones. Like I learned a lot from the guys that I don’t talk to anymore. Like, you know, I was like, well, I’m not going to work with this type of person anymore because they do this and this and this.

They might not necessarily be a bad person, but they don’t fit well with how I work. I work a little differently. I think it’s about transparency is important to understand if you’re going to work with partnerships, you have to have an open mind you got to be willing to compromise there’s, there are multiple people at stake.

Also be open-minded about taking ideas from your staff and your team members, because they’re, you know, they, they are there, they’re in the front line of things. They know what’s going on and I think sometimes when you work with people that have large Eagles, they don’t know how to listen to the people that know that knows what’s going on. And the people that are in the fire. No. Navigate through helping improve your business?

Bryan: (00:35:37) No one ever said I agree with that, man, and my transparency, openness. It’s uncompromising. That’s three qualities where you work with anyone, you know, and I always tell people that partnerships in business like dating you’re a gamer person.

Cause sometimes you try to see the other person more than your significant other tossing them more. Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t work out. Yeah. It’s always good to be upfront about these types of situations too, as I think I’ve seen, I mean, I’m guilty in the past to where I did have bad partnerships where I didn’t speak up because he’s a close friend or I didn’t want any conflict or anything.

As it was a drag through, it became more toxic and they’re losing a lot more money. We’re not solving any problem. We get frustrated with each other, but we both feel the same thing. So, it’s like passive-aggressive stuff yeah

Andy: (00:36:29) The most important thing, the longer drags out is you lose a lot of time and time and opportunity outside of it. Like if you, if you had ended it sooner, then you can work on something else and you know, move along and

Maggie: (00:36:39) You can never get that time back

Bryan: (00:36:42) Its kind of super important too, you know, but they just think you just have to find the right people move on fast and pivot, correct me, you know? Yeah. 

Maggie: (00:36:57)  I want to talk about, I know we’ve been talking about like all of your previous jobs and industries and all of that stuff, but you know, a lot of people know you for Afters Ice Cream. Right and I’d love to kind of get into that and. Can I ask you what your intentions were for After Ice Cream and did you ever expect it to grow this big? You know, I’ve heard you talk a lot about it before, you know, you were giving a speech out at our AHN LA event back in February but just for our listeners to know, like, you know, what that journey was like, and

I know you guys like got a long, long line and like the first couple of days that you guys had opened doctors and just talk about like your journey while you were opening After Ice Cream and how far you’ve come from that.

Andy: (00:37:47) Of course, that’s about six and a half. I think we’re at about almost six and a half years in now, from that brand. I had an idea maybe eight years ago, I kept traveling so much, and for in the clothing industry was traveling a lot, and food was just happened to be one of the new hobbies that I kept diving into and I kept, I kept blogging. Blogging was really popular back then. So, you’d have to update. I used to update the folding website all the time.

Like every single day, I had to update something. I just happened to be writing about food all the time and sharing different places that I go to. And recommending places I hear this place is legit. You need to go here and then everyone started replying and commenting and emailing me like, hey, that was good.

Thanks for your commendation. You have good taste. I would like to know more places to eat at and so that for me, I was like, okay, well, I guess this is my thing. Now. I’m just like, I guess a food critic I get in some way. I kept stumbling upon a lot of like cool ice cream stores. How about unique flavors that I’ve never seen before?

I remember going to San Francisco, I tried Bi-Rite for the first time and I was like, whoa, these are all flavors are crazy. I didn’t, I didn’t know. You could turn these flavors into ice cream. I go to New York and I’d be in Chinatown and I saw this almond cookie flavored ice cream. I was like, what the hell?

And I got inspired by putting together my list of flavors, ideas of flavors I grew up upon, and things that are kind of relevant in that time at that timeframe and I kept kind of feeding the idea out to people like kind of giving it away to the other, hey, my friend, hey, like my close friends, like you should do this as a business.

because screamed might be easy and fun. You could probably make some good money and they’re just like, yeah, yeah, haha whatever. Like I was like, I can’t do it. I don’t have time for it right now, but they used to try it out and they’re like, yeah, and one of my friends. I went to, you know, went to grade school with, you know, we start hanging out and we started sharing a lot of our dessert ideas.

He’s like, oh, I want to do dessert concept. I was like, oh, I want to do an ice cream concept. And he’s like let’s do it. Let’s go make it happen. I was like, oh really? This, I guess this let’s do it. So, we started hunting our goal is to make sure that we hunted for an ice cream store that was already existing, but not doing well.

So, we could go by we didn’t want to open a brand new store because we have both have never worked in food today in our life and blue construct if you open a restaurant you’re I know it takes the timeframe, opening a restaurant, building everything out takes forever and we’re like, you know, let’s just take something that exists in a tainted peanut, a little bit, a little paint job, and we’re ready to.

We found a store in the found valley, which is like a neighboring city to Westminster. It was right across the street from the gym where we used to work out all the time and I’d never been to this ice cream store in my life and I was like, what the hell? The Plaza was super dead all the time. No one went there.

Nothing cool in there and then there’s this guy there, he’s a lot older than us. He’s a Caucasian white man, about 64 years old, 64 years old at the time and we were like, hey, we want to buy, we’re buying your store. He’s like, I don’t want to sell my store. Well, you’re not going to, you don’t know how much longer you’re going to stay open for it.

You know, you’re open to once every other week if that, and I think it took us a long time, like a few months of like convincing them, like, hey, you know, let’s make this happen and we find that we ended up partnering up together instead of just buying it up because he knew how to make ice cream.

We don’t know how to make ice cream. So how do we make this deal work? So, he ended up being about five of us in the group and I started giving all my ideas and he’s like, what the hell are you talking about? I was like, hey, I want to vent flavor. He goes, I don’t know, going be coffee. Is there had been this coffee?

I was like, shit. I was like, hey, I want to do I drink Boba. I want Jasmine milk, and tea flavor. He’s like, what’s Jasmine milk tea. I was like, oh, great. Okay. So, I started like putting on like buying, like I buy like horchata, bring horchata, try her chocolate for the first time and let’s start, how do we turn this into ice cream?

Can you make, can you make this ice cream flavor blue? Because it looks better on camera looks cooler and he’s like, no, one’s going to buy blue. Yeah 

a lot of these flavors that we started developing and we worked on it together and we finally got the store done in February of 2014, we were slated to open on Valentine’s day and we’re like, it does not put them on Valentine’s day. Let’s open the day after Valentine’s, which is February 15th.

Yeah, we did a lot of like media push. I have friends that worked for a company called food bees the reason why I knew food diesel is he used to be in the clothing industry. So, we had a connection. So, I was like, hey, can you post this for me? And he’s like, yeah, do a write-up for you because I don’t think it’s going to do well, but okay.

Whatever and that news. It hit jumped to like local news and then Huffington post and then Yahoo front page wanted it after the food, these guys posted and they’re like, what the hell is going on? And then on my side, you know, you have people so curious, like, hey, the clothing, the clothing guys opening an ice cream store.

Then you got this other part where either bringing donuts with ice cream together, what the hell is that all about? The word spreads like wildfire, like from day one, there was a line all the time, out the gate, and you can’t even make this up. You, it’s just in a surreal moment of coming to the store every single day.

And there are always people there and you don’t know, you can’t comprehend. Like why this is happening?

Bryan: (00:43:25) Dude. That’s amazing I chills because I was one of that people waiting in line, man, and I went to your first store. 

Andy: (00:43:37) Yeah. We were probably hanging out outside the store. I’ll find, because we were always there like sitting there wondering like, what the hell like I’m was just going to last that’s the funny part is people come to us all the time and we’re just sitting outside.

They’re like, you know, this is all hype. It’s only going to last like three months and we’re like, you know, for us it was, it wasn’t about like, we didn’t know we’re going to open more than one store. You know, we just need, we, we just want an open this, because we wanted to open a place for people to hang out at night.

We wanted a place for us to go, you know, we want it, we liked dessert. We wanted to try the food. We’ve tried to try the food industry. It was still a hobby because I still had my clothing brand going on. At the same time, I have my office going. I wasn’t, you know, I was jumping back and forth trying to handle both.

So, this wasn’t like a goal to be like, I’m going to be the, you know, the serial entrepreneur’s store. We’re going to open a bunch of locations. Like that was not the intention or goal. In the second store that we opened, we had a great opportunity. We found another store that was practically built out already.

It wasn’t going to cost us money, cost that much to open. It was a city called Chino Hills and this is a big test for us because it was outside our hometown. Hey, we’re in the fount valley one had to do well because we lived there, right? We, it doesn’t do well. We just, suck what we do because this is our backyard.

But then Chino Hills was different because of that Plaza that was super dead. Like it came out of the recession and it was, it had no life there. It was just dead all the time and I remember days before opening, I called the guys, and I was like, hey guys, like, I don’t know if we’re going to do well here. I think we’re; I think the store might be a bust.

And then we grand opened in January 2015 and that store outperforms the first location. Consistently. So, we’re like, okay, we’re onto something here. Let’s like, let’s, let’s buckle down. Let’s focus and let’s start putting more stores. And that’s how it happened. We just kept signing more deals after that.

Maggie: (00:45:23) I think it’s, especially because you guys are so unique like no one has ever seen anything that you guys put out before and like incorporating donuts, no doing blue ice cream. And when people think about ice cream, like back then people were just going to like cold stone, right. Oh, that’s very generic, like no one likes to code. So nowadays,

Andy: (00:45:44)The crazy thing about the blue ice cream was that our partner would not. He would lie to me and not put the blue in the, in the, in the cookie monster for hope the whole first week.

And I was like, you need to put the blue in there and he’s fine. He’s, I’ve been trying to avoid, I’m not going to do it and then after he started, after the first week, he started doing it all the time and it’s sold outsold. It’s still to this day, outsells all the ice cream boxes. 10 times more than any other flavor that we have.

Maggie: (00:46:09) Because people are just like, they, they like to be traditional. Right. They’re afraid of change. And it’s like, if you put blue in the ice cream, I’m sure he was like, scared that everyone won’t be scared about it and

Andy: (00:46:19) It was, trust me I want to be on camera, Instagram is popping off right. This is what I want to post about and want to post vanilla. I want to post blue.

Bryan: (00:46:42) Hats off to you, man because I remember at the time I just, I wasn’t working a couple of years as a software engineer, the IBM. Yeah. And Costa Mesa, literally down the street from Silicon valley, you know, just right. It’s had a bad time at work and I’ll just stop by after his ice cream. So have a good time, you know, cause also I commuted from Korea talents. He close to me say, oh wow, okay. That’s a drive. A nice place that would open up late. You guys are always, you know, you guys help me kill the time too. Cause there’s always a line. I was like, oh yeah, I’m going to spend 45 minutes here anyways. So, thank you for that, man. It’s pretty surreal to be able to talk to you right here too. Yeah, and you always hear stories about yourself and how much you’ve done for the community and it’s still surreal for us because we are in your position. A couple of years ago, six, seven months, six and a half months ago. No one knew who we were. No one knew Asian Hustle Network and also nowhere, no one knew anything about us.

No one even wants to talk to us, you know, seven months later it’s like, oh, you, we got to talk to Andy and talk about his story, have him on the podcast. Well, and hopefully like others if you’ll find a lot of inspiration, we find a lot of inspiration from the story and it gives us the motivation that we need to kind of help push forward and relay these messages.

Because, you know, we can, before the Asian Hustle Network, it’s kind of hard to find the correct resources and stories to unite a community. You know, I think it’s great that you’re uniting the OSI community, but for us, we couldn’t find the Asian community we stuck together as Vietnamese, one Chinese, one, Japanese going Korean.

And it’s funny too. If I remember back in college, I used to be like all the Korean stuff together, all the Vietnamese stuff, and now we’re all friends do, and when I see last names intertwine and do business together on Asian Hustle Network.

Andy: (00:48:45) It’s cool to see because, you know, even like for me, like it’s, I’m talking to like Asian people that are successful in like Australia, you know, you have to have an Australia group of people there and that people there that we’ve messaged back all the time, like, do we talk to each other about ideas and what we’re working on?

And it’s super cool. You’re like, okay, well now I have, if I ever got Australia and I have friends in Australia now, it makes it, it makes it a lot cooler. And it was through this community that you guys developed that super influential. And it has a lot of big players in there, you know, you see a lot here.

You’re like, oh, that guy does that. Like, oh crap with me, let me hit him up. Let me introduce myself. And a lot of times people are scared to like introduce themselves or say, you know, they’re scared of somebody saying no or not talk, responding, but what you guys created made it super crazy for us to all, even when you guys did the AHN event in Rancho Cucamonga, I was like, are you sure Calvin, you want to do it in Rancho Cucamonga?

As far as shit, no, one’s going to drive there and then I got there that morning. Holy shit. All right. I have, I was not, I was not prepared for that.

Maggie: (00:49:43) No, but you did so well though. And I just love, like, hearing your story because you know, you come from humble beginnings and you talk about like how you were doing in school. And we have a lot of people at AHN who talk about that too. I feel like I don’t do well in school or like we have like Mexican convicts who have like a rough background, but it doesn’t matter where you come from. You know, like if you just put in the work like you have, like, you can do. And I just really appreciate you, like putting yourself out there and sharing your story, especially at our AHN LA event.

Bryan: (00:50:12)  And that’s the wonderful thing of business, right? It doesn’t matter. He went to Harvard, Stanford didn’t go as a ladder on the same field, man. You make things happen. It’s up to you, your personality. So, you got. Never give up.

Andy: (00:50:24) You got to start with everyone, got to start small somewhere and they got to learn from, you know, no one had the skill of no one had the skill that in the industry they went to anyways. And you’re just, you have to learn from the ground up as everyone else did

Bryan: (00:50:35) Your sense of curiosity has to be off the charts too and be willing to fail often and get back up your numbers. Everything just really knows yourself too, before. If you don’t, people will all, so if you pivot it’s okay. But when other people’s opinions call you the pivot and it’s not okay. Yeah, I mean, we appreciate you being on the podcast. Do you have any closing remarks, how can we find out more about you?

Maggie: (00:51:04) If you have any like advice that you could share with aspiring entrepreneurs in the group too, that’d be awesome.

Andy: (00:51:09) Of course the Asian Hustle Network. I know a lot of Asian parents, you know, they’ll tell you not to beat, you know, the creative route or whatever the world is not, not good for you or don’t do it cause it’s scary.

Don’t be, don’t be afraid, you know, parents. All they care about for you is to be successful. You know, that’s all, if you can take yourself over, you know, they’ll eventually give in, you know, my parents thought I was completely psycho as a kid going to real estate than clothing industry telling, you know, imagine yourself, you’re Asian.

You’re like, hey mom, that I’m going to go start a clothing brand. Like, what do you mean by clothing? What does that like, then I went to go open the ice cream store? Like why don’t you guys choose? Can you make money doing that? Yeah, those are the shocking things, but you know, just that you got to follow your gut instinct.

You have to try and you know, use these, these new situations as ways to prove them wrong, you know, like show your parents, like, hey, you’re not proving them wrong. Just like, show them like, hey, I can be successful in this industry. I can make you proud. even though it’s not a diploma, for myself, the diploma was when I got into the Vietnamese newspaper, local Vietnamese newspaper, I made sure to bring that home to my parents.

I was like, here you go but then now, cause then now they’re, you know, they, they’re showing their friends, kids that who are doctors and boys are pharmacists now. I wish Andy went back to school and now they’re like, oh look, they’re their friends. Their friends are like, oh, look what Andy’s doing.

Do you know? Cause their friends know, they know about me now too. Of course. So, they’re like, oh, he, you know, he owns this, this and this. And that’s a lot cooler. That’s a lot cooler than what my kids are doing.

Maggie: (00:52:37) They’re like, this is something your kid doesn’t have a piece of news. They’re in the newspaper.

Andy: (00:52:44) That’s my diploma to my parents that I get to show her. Yeah.

Bryan: (00:52:48) Congratulations on your success we’re super excited to have you on the show, and again, we appreciate you being so active in our community and for us, on the value,

Andy: (00:52:57) I’m there I’m an AHN supporter a hundred percent and I look forward to seeing you guys grow and continue to build a great relationship with the guys and put on and we’re going to go put on a Rodeo 39 event.

Maggie: (00:53:09) Yes, we have to put on a dope event when rodeo 39 opens up and it’s safe for everyone and I will be there. Yeah.

Bryan: (00:53:15) All right. Thank you so much, Andy.

Maggie: (00:53:17) Thank you so much, Andy.

Andy: (00:53:19) Thank you, guys.