We had the good fortune of connecting with Cara Nguyen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cara, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
I truly believe that I am only hindered by my own fears of failure. Life is about making mistakes and learning along the way. The idea that everyone wakes up feeling confident and ready to conquer the day is unrealistic. I strive to practice humility regularly, because I always want to be a learner. I don’t feel like I was truly able to experience life at it’s full capacity until I gave myself the chance to explore new ideas, and learn how to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. Growth never happens when I stay in once place. When it comes to any passions or dreams I have, I make a commitment to take it all the way to the end. Even when things don’t always turn out the way that I would like them to, I can pride myself over the fact that I gave something my very best. Giving up has not been an option for me. I have many different endeavors, including the small business, my education, and career goals.
What I have learned in the past few years of pursuing my dreams is that everything is a balance. There have been seasons where I have too full of a plate, and stretched myself too thin. I am guilty of getting caught up too far in the end goal, and neglect the beautiful journey along the way. There’s no need for any sense of urgency in achieving the things that I want, as long as I keep moving forward at whatever pace makes it manageable and enjoyable for my life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry because science has always been a passion of mine. Research and development in treatments for disease is where I would like to end up because it not only is fascinating to me, but I also want to utilize my passion for that industry into improving the quality of life for individuals. Pursuing my degree has made me want to throw in the towel multiple times. There have been times where I am in school full time and still work a 40 hour week, and I feel that I am crawling my way to the end of the semester. I learned how to dial it back because I was too tunnel-visioned on getting my degree in a certain time frame, but it was not worth the cost of my sanity or mental health. This year, I decided to take a break for one semester to reset myself and have made a decision that moving forward I will only take one or two classes at a time, even if that prolongs my degree.
I have always had an artistic knack and opening the small business allowed me to channel that creativity into doing something I love on the side. I was getting so wrapped up in life that for many years I did not make the time to do any form of art. My art is a form of therapy for me, because it mentally disconnects me from outside world and brings me calm and peace when I create. One of the things that my business partner and I pride ourselves over is that this is a minority women-owned business. We both came from lives of hardship in the past, and opening a business together really became surreal for us. We are blessed to have the opportunity to do something we couldn’t have dreamed of doing in the past given our difficult circumstances. Now we are opening new doors and we are discovering that the possibilities are TRULY endless. We hope that we can be an inspiration to other women that dreams really do come true when you put in the work.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love the Bay Area because there are so many hidden treasures here. Where do I even start! I am a huge hiker and foodie. I love hiking near Cupertino or Los Altos Hills, it is always quiet and serene there. Going to San Francisco to walk through the Presidio area overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge is also a must see. I would not think that a Bay Area experience will be complete without taking a friend to try Philz coffee! My favorite place to just hang out is downtown San Mateo, great people, great food, and great area to just walk around and enjoy the surroundings.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give a huge shoutout to my business partner Ally for working so hard with me to create our vision. And to those who have been gracious enough to give me the space needed to create my art, I would not be where I am at without you Jason & Mr. Steve. The list could go on forever, but a special thank you to my parents, Byron, Javi, Darlene, Claire who pushed me even when I wanted to give up. You guys have been my biggest cheerleaders.