Often times, when we connect with other nonprofit organizations and they peruse our website and social media channels, they ask us why is there so much focus on fashion? Aren't you a nonprofit? We tell them this: yes, we are an NGO that provides support services for survivors of and people vulnerable to human trafficking and sexual exploitation. One of our programs is a vocational skills training program, Our Own Hands, that teaches jewelry making. We chose jewelry making because it is an easily-acquired skill, can be picked up by those who are illiterate (as many of our artisans often are) and can be therapeutic for those who have been through trauma and abuse. We also run a social business that specializes in producing and retailing the jewelry that is made by our artisans. The girls produce jewelry for the Senhoa brand, OOH brand (the girls' own creations), and for partner labels. When we first started OOH in 2010, we had the jewelry available for sale on our website and at events, but we did not establish the social business until 2014.
The term "social business" was defined by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus as "the new kind of capitalism that serves humanity's most pressing needs." We believe that conscious consumerism can positively impact the world and its people. So in 2014, we took our shelter-retention vocational training program to the next level--employing women full-time as artisans--elevating them from "service users" to "skilled employees." We also adopted business strategies to grow the brand: devising wholesale structures, amping our marketing campaigns and reassessing our cost of goods sold to create a thriving business. We did this because we wanted to focus on empowering the women we served by teaching them a marketable skill and providing them with fair wages and benefits and access to the global marketplace, as well as celebrating their talent as artisans. We also chose this route to maintain sustainability. 100% of the profits from the sale of Senhoa jewelry is rerouted into the jewelry program, with the excess going to the foundation to fund Lotus Kids Club and our other anti-human trafficking efforts.
In our first year as a social enterprise, we grossed $85,346, nearly twice as much as 2013's sales. It is our goal that Senhoa jewelry revenue will eventually cover all foundation program costs. It'll take some time and a lot of team work and support, but we will get there.
When you see all our Instagram photos of models and celebrities donning Senhoa jewelry or see us at LA Fashion Week, remember that we are striving to utilize business sensibilities and fashion as vehicles to achieve our humanitarian dreams. And the man behind all of this "fashion" is our in-house stylist, Andrew Philip Nguyen. You'll see him behind the scenes at our photoshoots and directing models during our fashion exhibits and shows.
Andrew has always had a love of fashion, even at a young age he was mesmerized every time his mother would get ready to go out on the town. Her beauty regimen would put him in a trance as she layered on her jewels, found the perfect hand bag for every occasion and finished off her look with her signature Chanel No. 5 parfum. It was almost a religious experience for him.
A Fashion Installation (featuring our latest collection, Kat & George for Senhoa) at our 5-Year Anniversary Gala Curated by Andrew Philip Nguyen
Hair: Tuyen Tran & Trang Do, Makeup: Jacky Tai, Furnishings: Master Designs, Models: Image Powerhouse & Shahana and Sydney Elaine Steinaker, Wardrobe: BGR Designs, Stylist: Andrew Philip Nguyen, Assistant Stylist: Hien Phan, Hair Accessories: Kat & George for Senhoa, Jewelry: Senhoa. Photo by Robert Swapp Photography.
It wasn’t until his freshmen year of high school where Andrew reignited and focused his undying passion for fashion while watching the first season of Project Runway. When the second season came around, he was instantly inspired when fellow Vietnamese-American Chloe Dao won the title. He then knew he could do what he thought was so out of reach. At first, he thought he wanted to be a fashion designer but he quickly found out he had no patience for sewing. So he ventured out to find another career in the vast creative industry. Sometime later he so happened to come by an amazing internship with renowned Vietnamese-American fashion designer Thai Nguyen who had just gotten off his stint on Bravo's Launch My Line as first runner-up and the rest was history. Andrew soon got his hands on all the behind-the-scenes action and was lucky enough to be involved in every aspect of a small fashion house. From assisting and directing multiple runway shows all across the United States, to styling photo shoots with top photographers, even assisting in line production, Andrew had the opportunity to be immersed in it all. He instantly fell in love with wardrobe styling while assisting Thai Nguyen and is now exploring a new outlet for his creativity.
Photographer: Mariel Lohninger, Model: Maggie Danielle, Hair & MUA: Roczane Enriquez, Stylists: Andrew Philip Nguyen & Thu Nguyen, Wardrobe: Lex & Mila, Jewelry: Senhoa
November issue of Huf Magazine. Photographer: Christopher Santiago, Hair: Dakota Hunter & Jill Zegarski, Stylist: Andrew Philip Nguyen, Assistant Stylist: Hien Phan, Grooming: Sameerah Hoddison, Model: Aidan Anderson of Seattle Models Guild, Jewelry: Senhoa
This past fall, he and fashion writer Amanda Nguyen launched an Orange County based digital fashion book named Alpha Omega. The fashion book has a strong focus on high fashion and talent that is found in the Southern California area. He plays as Chief Creative Director and Head Fashion Editor to this magazine he helped co-found. The magazine can be found here. With 4+ years of styling under his belt he has worked some of the biggest models and photographers in the greater Los Angeles area. His work has been published in multiple major fashion magazines. Andrew has even styled top pageant queens that have gone on to compete nationally for the Miss USA title such as Cassandra Kunze Miss California USA 2014, Bianca Vierra Miss California Teen USA 2014 and Hoang-Kim Cung Miss Nebraska USA 2015. Check out Andrew's work at www.aphilipn.com.