Nghia Nguyen is what you would call a “multipreneur.” A hectic day job and a family including two small children would be more than enough for most of us. But not for him. His new “wave” focuses on kindness, but it’s part of a much bigger story.

To understand this story, we first have to go back to 2018. It’s here that while still working full-time as GroupM’s resident digital knowledge manager, he takes it upon himself to do something completely new.

Together with his partner-in-crime Tam, he decides to launch his very own event space, coffee shop, craft beer outlet and retail outlet called “Modern Hustle.”

Nghia Nguyen and his partner Tam

The sleek venue is equally a place to taste local coffee and craft beer as it is a spot to get some work done after shopping anything from notebooks to bags and shoes – all from local makers.

It was designed from the get-go to put modern Vietnam on display. Inspired by the unbridled creativity and entrepreneurship from a growing circle of “maker” friends, Nghia built a place where the best from all areas of modern Vietnamese craft would come together.

And it doesn’t just stop at “displaying”: it’s a platform to help expose underground brands to a bigger audience, and to push young and hungry local creators forward. From an interactive singer-songwriter exhibition to performances, classes and screenings.

Modern Hustle

About a year into this journey, another idea started brewing: bringing modern Vietnamese creativity to the North. And so in early 2019, Vagabond Hanoi was born.

The setting and decor are vastly different, opting for light woods and cream colors rather than the cool, dark that defines Modern Hustle. But the idea is the same: promoting the best of young, creative, Vietnam in a space that equally lends itself for shopping, eating, drinking and just chatting a morning away.

Vagabond Hanoi by Nghia Nguyen
Vagabond Hanoi by Nghia Nguyen

This March 23rd, Vagabond Hanoi will merge with Monosketch to become representative mini-store of Monosketch in the North market. This cooperation, one more time, states the vision of connecting local brands together of Nghia.

Nghia and Vinh Truong (founder of Monosketch) at Vagabond

Global Ambassador of Kindness – a Wave of Kindness to hit Vietnam

These projects speaks volumes about how passionate Nghia is about Vietnam. And all the exciting changes the country is going through.

But there’s one thing he can’t and won’t get used to: the “ném đá” attitude that is still very pervasive here. Ném đá literally translates as “throwing stones” – looking at things in the most negative light and attacking the unfamiliar.

“It’s actually kind of embarrassing. You’d launch a product, and people hate on you for no reason. I believe it’s not bad will per se, but a lack of security, compassion, and knowledge of the matter,” Nghia Nguyen says.

Founder of The First Draft and Backstage 11: Kim Chi Sun (@kimchisunofficial)
in Global Ambassador of Kindness shirt

To tackle this issue, Nghia launched the “Global Ambassador of Kindness” campaign. Starting with a t-shirt he designed and that launches this week in his various stores.

Soon we’ll see some of the young creators that he has been supporting for over a year, starting wearing it and convey a clear message: kindness is the way. “With the Kindness Wave, I’m hoping to serve an antidote to this type of ném đá thinking,” Nghia shares.

Kindness: easy to understand, harder to practice

Kindness is a concept that’s widely known but both seemingly underrated and definitely under-practiced. One of 24 VIA character strengths, it’s the ability and fondness to be kind and generous to others.

People who count kindness as one of their character strengths are seemingly never too busy to do a favor as they enjoy doing good deeds for others, whether they know them well or not.

Kindness is language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

Mark Twain

It isn’t all that difficult to practice kindness, but our “busy” lives often get in the way. That’s something Nghia wanted to deal with. The idea of waves didn’t come out of nowhere either: his hope is to create something that will keep going. Wave after wave. Kindness begetting kindness.

Nghia: “People nowadays care about things that actually don’t bring them any actual benefit of well-being. like scandals, gossips, fake news, and too much hate. It’s time for a lasting and pervasive change.”

The kindness boomerang: kindness begets kindness.

Wave Saigon: Celebrating a Changing Vietnam

The “Global Ambassador of Kindness” shirts are a first manifestation of Wave Saigon. Wave is Nghia’s brand that intends to “celebrate the new (waves of) changes in Vietnam”. It follows another shirt that put a new face on Hustle in Vietnam.

Not that Wave Saigon will be a t-shirt brand, Nghia says. “It could be in any form of design. In fact, Wave Saigon really isn’t about the products, it’s my way of sending through messages. So far, I just only know how to do that with shirts, so that’s where I started. But down the line I anything, up to workshops and mini talk shows.”

He doesn’t want to call it a movement, but it has all the makings of one. Movements start small, with true intent, and spread from there. Nghia’s idea of using any kind of medium available to him to spread messages that reflect his inner values, reflects that true, authentic intent that will be undeniably attractive for others to adopt.

We can’t wait for this wave to become a tsunami of not just kindness, but all kinds of positivity in Vietnam. Knowing his values and drive, we can’t help but feel like Nghia will succeed.

And success, he says, is one of a higher level. “Profit isn’t the goal here. As long as people are aware of these “waves,” it is a success to me. This is not about creating a business, but doing good.”

Stay posted
Nghia (and his adorable family:)

Modern Hustle:
12 Đường Tôn Đản, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City

7 Phố Tôn Thất Thiệp, Ba Đình, Hà Nội



Author Daan van Rossum Daan is Bright’s founder and a certified Life Coach. Having lived on 3 continents, he’s been studying cross-cultural happiness for a number of years. Daan’s speciality is around positivity, understanding your life goals, entrepreneurship and creativity. Daan lives between Da Lat and Saigon, but his heart is always in the mountains. Besides his Bright jobs and his work as a freelance brand strategist, his most important job is that of husband to his wife My.

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