May 16, 2023

Chau Tonnu launched her Vietnamese chili sauce business, Me’s Way, in 2020, to share a piece of her culture. Three years later, she has built a business of devoted, repeat customers who can’t get enough of her traditional, spicy flavors. Chau is a “solo entrepreneur” who believes in supporting other women entrepreneurs but also trusts her own instincts and believes in her product so much that she keeps going, even when the obstacles are high. Read to learn more from Chau Tonnu as she shares her love for her growing business.

Jessie's Nutty Cup Founder, Jessica Taige

I want to share a piece of Vietnamese culture through what I know best: the language of food.


Why did you start your business? What motivated or inspired you?

I started my business in early June 2020. I want to share a piece of Vietnamese culture through what I know best: the language of food. I hand-make all the products in the USA, using the recipes that are unique to Huế, Vietnam and that are passed down three generations from mothers to daughters.

Fresh'n Juicy Banner

What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?

I wish that I knew the right people to work with when I started my business. It would have saved me a lot of time and money to get what I was looking for.



Why did you decide to join The WMarketplace?

Because I want to support women-owned businesses as well as be part of the group.



What has been the most challenging thing about getting your business up and running?

Having the budget to advertise and let others know about my products is the most challenging.



What has been the most exciting or rewarding part of owning your own business?

For me, starting a business is a lot like having a baby. At first, I was overjoyed when the business was established. But then I had to go through all of the ups and downs to nourish it, and take good care of it when it was just a tiny business. And like watching a child grow, I'm happy seeing it grow up a little bit every day. But it’s also stressful when I have to deal with obstacles, especially in the financial area. There are moments I thought I might give up, but the love for it is so big, it keeps me hanging in there, and believing in its bright future.



Can you identify a moment in your business that was pivotal in your success? Have you had an “AHA!” moment(s)?

The moment I can consider a AHA moment is when the customers have provided me with positive feedback about the products as well as the customer services. That's all success to me.

There are moments I thought I might give up, but the love for it is so big, it keeps me hanging in there, and believing in its bright future.

How long have you been in business and has your business changed since you started it?

I have been in the business almost 3 years. I have had many loyal customers who keep coming back and ordering my products many times and introducing the products to their friends and relatives.



Do you have a mentor, formal or informal? What role have they played for you?

When I first started the business, my two siblings were my mentors for a few months. But after that, I have been on my own, all the way.



What communities have been important for you as you grew/developed your business?

I don't have a specific community as I want to introduce my products to everyone who loves spicy food no matter what community.



Do you have items, photos or mementos on your desk that inspire you each day? What are they?

It is a picture of my product. It is my love so I like to look at it everyday. When I look at it, I feel very proud of myself and that I have created something on my own.



Do you have any advice for other women who are getting started in business?

This is a tough question since I'm the type of person who likes to be in charge and make decisions myself. For me, running the business myself is much easier than having partners. It gives me fewer headaches! When you have another person involved, you will have more things to deal with. It's super important for you to find a great partner that can get along with you, or have the same business mind with you. Otherwise, it will be a disaster.




Thank you, Chau, for sharing your advice and journey with the WMarketplace!




SHOP ME'S WAY



Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit TheWMarketplace provides to sellers.

Her Story: Chau Tonnu of Me's Way