NW Vietnamese News

Young Vietnamese designer’s debut fashion show this Saturday

September 30
23:06 2010

Bình Nguyễn is a young American born Vietnamese with a quest to design cool clothes while helping raise money for cancer care at Children’s Hospital. His small company, “Questkids”, will hold its first fashion show this Saturday night in downtown Seattle.

Family support and influence

Perhaps Bình’s quest began with his parents’ quest for freedom, when they fled Vũng Tàu via boat in 1978. The 30-year-old Bình was born in Auburn, WA, as the youngest of nine children. Bình describes his family as very close.

“Most weekends, we get together at my parent’s house,” said Bình. “It’s like a big house party. When you hang out with my family, you’ve got to be loud, witty.”

His five sisters and three brothers had a great influence on his life.

“I see them as my backbone, where I can go for advice,” he said. “I had the freedom to try new things.”

Even as a child, Bình was artistic. “He would paint all over the house,” said his sister, Mai Nguyễn.

He saw art as an outlet for his creativity. He painted with graffiti, pencils, water color and “anything I could get my hands on.” He has always loved design, “but it was music that turned me into a fashion designer.”

“My designs are inspired by self-expression, music, color and shape,” Bình said.

Bình’s mother introduced him to fashion and sewing. She is a seamstress in a factory and sews on the side for some clients. She sewed her children’s clothes and even made some of their daughters’ wedding dresses.

Six years ago, Bình started experimenting with fashion design. His sister Mai bought Bình his first silk-screen printing machine for his custom designed t-shirts.

Quest to Get Better

Bình has ten nieces and nephews, who often serve as his test models for his clothing. His niece, Taylor Nguyễn, inspired the mission behind “Questkids” when she was diagnosed in 2005 with kidney cancer at two and half years old.

“It shocked the whole family, because no one in the family has ever had any kind of serious illness,” Bình said. “We were with Taylor in the hospital when she was getting treated.”

At the hospital, Bình spent a lot of time playing with the young patients. He got a chance to see and feel what the children experienced.

“Some days, the kids would get together to play, and one would ask what happened to a certain person,” Bình said. “The response would be, ‘they didn’t make it’.”

The experience inspired Bình to find a way to give back to Children’s Hospital. He said, “All these kids have one life, one journey, one quest to get better.”

Bình pledges to donate 5% of his profit to Children’s Hospital as well as to contribute his design talents.

“I love designing because I love kids,” said Bình. “I see it as a way to give back to the community. I also get to do what I love and meet amazing people along the way.”

Mai added that “all the kids love Bình.”

Becoming a business man

Once Bình decided to start “Questkids,” he also had to learn how to become a businessman.

Luckily for him, he surrounds with good friends who are business savvy. One such friend is Thái Hằng Vũ, director of operations for Questkids.

One huge boost to Questkids happened in May 2010. The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce held a Microsoft-sponsored video contest for a business that could show how “Office 2010 helps their business.” Bình’s friend, Chris Williams of Electric Bubble Media, shot the winning video.

“It was one of my biggest achievements,” said Bình. After that, the retailers started calling in with their orders.

Although Bình’s family always supported his career choice, they themselves did not take his aspirations seriously, “thinking it was another thing he’s just trying out”, until Questkids won the Microsoft video contest.

Now they are extremely proud when they cruise the mall and see Bình’s works displayed in window fronts. Stores that carry his line include Deli Boutique, Zebra Club, Eqpt, Bootyland, Snowboard Connection and Little Vinnies.

Questkids’ First Fashion Show and Fundraiser

This Saturday, October 2, Bình will host his first show for QuestKids. He said he’s “overwhelmed with excitement.”

“This event won’t be your typical event,” said Bình. “It’s catering to the kids. There’s going to be Red Carpet, paparazzi, news reporters. The event will focus on raising awareness for Children’s Hospital and raising money. Everyone in family pitchd in toys to help with the set up with the show.”

His niece, Taylor, will be one of the models.

When working with children as models, Bình said, “You can’t predict anything from the kids, and things are always different.”

–Đặng Phong

Photos by Avi Loud. To see more photos, please visit Avi’s Flickr.

EVENT DETAILS: Questkids, Fall 2010 Fashion Show/Launch Party, www.questkids.com, Saturday, October 2, 1010, Deli Boutique, 1307 First Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101, 5:30pm – 8:30pm. Free. Sponsors: Via Tribunali, House of Cake, Studio 3, Deli and Manik. Beneficiary: Seattle Children’s Hospital

Binh Nguyen sits at his new studio space for Questkids.

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