Lady Boss Dien: Stitching the brand of success

Nguyen Thi Dien

Starting as a small sewing facility with a few dozen people, An Phuoc evolved to become a national brand. It took 28 years of hard work to get a foothold in the market, and now it is one of the best brands in the world. A woman is behind this success. Her name is Nguyen Thi Dien.

An Phuoc was established in 1992 as a small company specializing in tailoring, exporting end-products to Japanese fashion companies. Mrs. Dien has a strong grasp of the meticulousness of the Japanese, and she ensured that her garments met their standards. Five years in business trained her well, bringing with her valuable lessons in sewing as well as thoroughness – the foundation of her own brand.

When the Asian financial crisis hit in 1997, An Phuoc was at the risk of shutting down. Mrs. Dien understood that the livelihood of an entire workforce depended on her leadership. She did not wait for the international market to stabilize, and instead focused on domestic expansion. 

The existence of big players in the local fashion industry compelled Mrs. Dien to restrategize on her brand’s unique selling point. An Phuoc had to stand out in the high-end product line. Her smart move was tying up with international giant label Pierre Cardin. Mrs. Dien then relaunched An Phuoc, offering clothes that display elegance with a variety of designs, suitable for the Vietnamese physique.

The best asset is commitment

Before this blinding success, Mrs. Dien had to endure a very difficult period. She pledged assets and entered into large debts with banks and acquaintances. She saved on whatever she could believing that "many a little makes a mickle." During these hard times, she was patient and was never discouraged. She did not allow herself to stop.

A business mogul’s advice: It is impossible to have a model for every business. Build the appropriate business strategy based on the economic and internal conditions of the company.

“In order to develop sustainability, we need to instill a brand culture, and that is keeping our reputation intact, both to our customers and our employees. We cannot also disregard the law – we must comply with the provisions of the State as well as international laws,” said Mrs. Dien.

That’s the lady boss.

FFI Asia

Read more inspiring stories of women who shattered the glass ceiling and overcame the glass cliff here.