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Linda Nguyen

Our interview with the founder of LOVE + MADE

by Largetail in Culture on 10 August 2012

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Linda Nguyen and her partner, Tammy Le, are the heart and vision behind LOVE + MADE, the fashion-forward lifestyle brand and events and marketing company. Since 2007, LOVE + MADE has been leaving its mark with a signature style of pop aesthetics in designing for such high-profile clients as Vans and WeSC.

Cutting her teeth at Obey, Shepard Fairey's punk-infused streetwear line, Nguyen quickly distinguished herself by launching the company's first women's line. Serving as Lauryn Hill's fashion assistant to leading the LA chapter of the networking group, Ladies Lotto, Nguyen's skyrocket success has encompassed a perfect blend of feminine sass and savvy. Working with an all-female team, LOVE + MADE continues to lead the way with an upcoming LOVE + MADE candle collection, Royal Elastics shoe collaboration and also a Stussy x Lovemade collaboration which launches in Stussy stores next week.

What were your interests/influences growing up and what was your background prior to starting LOVE + MADE?

As a teenager, I was fascinated with hip-hop culture. I began producing a monthly event called "L_ephunk" which showcased up-and-coming artists from LA and San Francisco. Living and growing up in Orange County, there was a lack of culture and diversity so being able to help put a spotlight on new talent and offer something fresh to my community felt really rewarding.

Event production provided me with experience in running a small business. It was also through L_ephunk that I discovered my passion for creating and for bringing people together. That same passion eventually translated over to my interest in design. I began hand-making accessories under "StenciL," a new brand I started.

At 21, I started an internship at Obey assisting the menswear designer. Just six months after landing the internship, I was awarded with a position as the women's designer through which I helped Obey launch their first women's line. Since then I have worked in-house and as a freelance designer for brands like L-R-G, Burton, WeSC, Shaun White for TARGET and Vans.

What inspired LOVE + MADE and what is it like working with an all-female team? How did you and Tammy Le meet?

My business partner/best friend Tammy and I met in the 6th grade. We started LOVE + MADE in 2007, driven by the desire to have something of our own. The concept of our brand is in the name. To put it simply, the collective promotes doing and making something from the heart. LOVE + MADE was, and still is, a labor of love and we wanted to convey that in our brand name.

LOVE + MADE is unique in that a big part of our mission is to support, inspire, and empower other brands. We aren't trying to bash on the boys or push this whole "Girls Rule, Boys Drool" agenda. We've simply learned that in the male- dominated lifestyle market, we need more of a strong female perspective.

Please tell us a little about Ladies Lotto and how you got involved.

Ladies Lotto is a lifestyle and networking community founded by Natalie Blacker. It aims to encourage independent women to think about and do business differently by providing them with a space to meet, network, mingle and get inspired. I've been involved with Ladies Lotto since attending my first meeting in NYC four years ago.

What sort of brands do you enjoy working with and what sort of demographic do you design for?

We love working with brands like INSIGHT on events, and Stussy for designs. We love lifestyle brands and the whole streetwear culture. We design for the girl who loves fashion, art, music and all things creative. She is strong, independent and driven. She is diverse in her tastes and influences and embraces her femininity.

What are some examples of events that you've helped put on and what were some of your stylistic influences?

You'll always find good music, eclectic company, and fashion-forward attendees at our events. The typical LOVE + MADE-produced event features an array of female talent ranging from DJs and artists to photographers and dancers. If LOVE + MADE is involved you can always expect a line of ladies out the door; we always respect the ratio. We also get hired to promote other companies' events. Some of our clients have included Puma, Urban Outfitters, Reebok, DimMak and KSwiss. We've helped companies promote everything from monthly music events to launch parties.

How would you describe your personal style?

Always a pop of color, whether it's in my bright lipstick, nails or shoes.

What are some personal highlights.?

One of my biggest career highlights was turning an internship into a design position at OBEY. It changed everything and jump-started my induction into the fashion world. Other moments that stand out include traveling with recording artist Lauryn Hill to South Africa for a styling gig in 2006 and my first LOVE + MADE handbag design with Matahari.

What career advice that you would give?

Surround yourself with people that inspire you, know that internships and networking can take you further than you think, and turn your ideas into projects.

What are you currently working on and what do you have in the works for the future?

I am currently working on a Stussy x LOVE + MADE collaboration that launches this August at Stussy stores and boutiques worldwide. Our goal is to continually expand our product category—we want to venture into home and cosmetics, even electronics. LOVE + MADE plans to continue collaborating with individuals and brands that reflect the lifestyle we support. In the next year, we will be launching home products and apparel.

The core values of the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Altitude Edition are edge, strength and innovation. Which of these values do you personally identify with in your life and why?

I really identify with all of Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Altitude Edition's values in both my professional and personal life. Staying cutting-edge and innovative are unchanging goals for me as a designer. I'm constantly trying to come up with fresh ideas that exhibit skilled craftsmanship and exceptional quality of product.

In my personal life, I define edge as taking chances and making game-changing decisions in my day-to-day life. I continually strive to maintain strength in self-motivation and innovation through looking to new perspectives in not just personal style, but lifestyle.

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