Lam Huy Ngan, a Bachelor of Communication (Professional Communication) alumnus, known as Jo, has won customers’ hearts through the stories she tells about her fashion brands: Jamlos and Rustea.
In 2014, out of her personal interest in canvas bags, Jo founded Jamlos with a surprisingly small initial investment VND1 million.
Her first collections introduced canvas tote bags with inspiring slogans and unique Vietnamese interjections like ‘Ủa’ and ‘Ơi’. Her passion for this material hasn’t stopped growing since then.
“The more I learned about canvas, the more I fell in love with this material. So much so that I decided to stop my agency jobs and focus on building the brand,” Jo recalled.
While selling a wide range of bags and accessories with a focus on canvas materials, Jamlos soon received attention through a well-developed, well-executed brand story – dynamic bags for a constantly moving lifestyle.
“As my background is in communications, I started every collection with ideas and stories to tell, instead of business models and statistics,” Jo said of how she uses concept and idea development skills she learned during her time at RMIT Vietnam in her business.
“Then I learned my way to other areas of the business – from design and production to finance and customer service – to convey those stories.”
Jamlos gradually won the hearts of young customers. From starting with an online shop, Jo launched a flagship store in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, and later another store in the heart of Hanoi.
In mid-2017, Jo founded Rustea, a clothing brand for men and women with a focus on natural fabrics, especially linen and minimalist designs, which Jo refers to as “your everyday getaway” clothing.
“Without a big-scale business strategy and big budget for marketing, storytelling enables my two brands to reach out and connect with my customers in an emotional way,” Jo explained about the need to maintain her strength of brand storytelling in her business development.
Indeed, when a customer walks into one of her stores, they begin to unfold the chapters that Jamlos and Rustea contain. Every detail in their customer experience journey helps tell the brand’s stories and spirit, from the rattan table that invites guests to sit down and sip a cup of calm tea during their visit and the little ‘chò’ flower decoration for the summer collection, to the reusable net bag and kraft paper packaging that reinforces nature-friendliness and minimalism.
Customers get to learn about the products and their stories, and also see themselves in them. By the time they buy an item, they bring home not just a product, but a story to remember and to retell.
With a can-do attitude, Jo plans to continue telling her brand stories in other cities in Vietnam, as well as across the region. In late 2017, Jo brought her brands to Singapore in order to exhibit and promote them.
“Quite a lot of customers were surprised, yet appreciative, when I told them we were from Vietnam. They were impressed with the design style and materials, and especially the branding,” Jo said.
The young woman also aims to open a lifestyle store that offers handmade housewares, antique decorations and a home kitchen experience – all in one space.
As she looks forward to this new venture, Jo is already planning to tell her next story.
“Storytelling is a great way to not only share your passion, but also to develop your plans,” Jo concluded.
Story: Phuong Le