With any business, it’s important to stay true to your mission and and constantly align the brand with that vision. For Lan Pham, the importance of staying authentic to her culture is what drives her. Awareness and celebration for Vietnamese and all Asian cultures is the goal. And SANG, a ready-made Vietnamese coffee brand based in New York City, is the vehicle that ties it all together.
SANG, which means “bright” in Vietnamese, is served in a can, mixed with condensed milk and made with 100% Vietnamese coffee beans – the traditional Vietnamese coffee way. Pham explains that many people in the U.S. don’t realize that Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world (Brazil is the first).
Pham’s journey to this business was built on power, strength and fortitude. The youngest of eight children raised by a single mother, she was eight months old when she and her family were split up into refugee camps. Reunited a year later, Pham’s mother decided to move them to the United States, specifically Kansas and Southern California. Pham describes her experience growing up in the United States as a Vietnamese immigrant during this time as, “totally traumatizing when you’re an immigrant and you’re different and you look different than everyone else.”
She also had to change schools every couple years, which didn’t make things easier. “People mispronounced your name and it was hard to make friends,” she said. “It definitely made me stronger and honed my social skills having to do that so often. All of those things that you hated then make you stronger later on.”
Through this experience, Pham would dim her cultural light in order to try to assimilate in a place where other cultures and traditions were not understood or explored. After being embarrassed for so many years, she’s now chosen to rise above and live in her truest, most authentic expression of her culture, while celebrating it and sharing it with the masses.
Before starting SANG, Pham worked in sales and marketing for e-commerce and hospitality brands. She knew she wanted to create her own brand that celebrated Vietnam in the most authentic way. Because of her past experience, she felt confident that she could do this in a manner that was not only true to her culture but also fun and vibrant.
She told Beyondish that she noticed the gap of accessibility when it came to Vietnamese coffee. “People could really only obtain it by either going to a Vietnamese restaurant, making it at home or via the Starbucks Vietnamese coffee hack,” she said.
SANG, which comes in Traditional, Dairy-Free Oatmilk, Straight Black, Latte with Saigon Cinnamon and Oatmilk Latte with Saigon Cinnamon, is now available online and in select stores. And, Pham said there’s more to come, as her mission is all about sharing the flavors of Vietnam with the world.
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