For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish.
If I didn’t know better, I would think our traditional marriage vows were written by The Store on Queen’s Valentina and Angela Phung who affectionately refer to one another as Wifee and Hubby.
Their super close relationship as best friends and business partners is a rarity and it all started with a chance but destined meeting on February 28, 2012. After a random encounter in Angela’s condo, the two set up a lunch date that would lead them to a business venture that has resulted in influential social media status within five short years.
They are the faces, voices and essence behind one of the city’s trendiest retail stores; VaVa as the Fashion Buyer, and Angela, a former Fashion Designer, as the Head of Marketing. They breathe fashion, bleed confidence, and they embody what it means to ‘Be True.’
I caught up with the biggest fashion personalities in the city to talk branding, their unwavering confidence, and success habits, in January’s #Truboss edition!
BTRU: Happy New Year, ladies! Last year we caught you globe trotting and teaming up with the hottest designers to build The Store On Queens’s presence! What can we expect from the two of you and TSOQ in 2017?
V+A: For the store: Some more of that and a little bit more glitter! We have some plans….*cough, cough* maybe a bigger home… Rest assured we are cooking up something in the kitchen! *cough, cough* Maybe another store somewhere by TSOQ! *cough, cough*
Personally: Continuing the balance of life (work, family, friends, health, fitness, etc)…and hopefully will include boys (or shall we say, men) HAHAHAHA!!
BTRU: What is your number 1 resolution in the new year?
VAVA: I don’t do those. I don’t even set goals really. I just wake up and do the best I can everyday in everything.
ANGIE: I’m not sure, to be honest. I have life long goals that I want to achieve and I go until I get there. Does that count?….If not, maybe to wear more pretty bras! HAHAHAHAHA!!
BTRU: I’d like to take a moment to reflect on how far you have come. TSOQ has become a fashion landmark in Toronto. A lot of new and existing brands struggle to find their voice and define their brand the way that you have in such a short period of time. How did you find yours in an industry that is so competitive?
ANGIE: Being ourselves really and by not being afraid to be more daring with our styling. Vava does the buying and she searches high and low for the latest pieces that no one else has in Toronto. Kid you not, the chick lives on her phone and in magazines, so if something is seen trending she will immediately jump on it before it’s seen in stores. At times, she gets things in like a year earlier! HAHAHA!
BTRU: In the digital age, consistency is king and you take that very seriously on all of your platforms. How important has social media been in your brand building?
V+A: It’s extremely important. Social media is the modern day word of mouth. We live in an era where information is spread across the globe over night. You don’t even need to meet a person to see what they are wearing and you do not even need to ask where they got it to find out where you can buy it.
BTRU: The tagline, ‘You are strong. Confident. Beautiful,’ can be found on your website and you totally embody all of those traits in your personal and professional lives. Are there ever moments where you don’t feel 100%? If so, how do you pull yourself out of them?
ANGIE: To be honest, it’s really rare that I don’t feel strong, confident or beautiful. I think it’s just because I look at things very differently. I think that you can be “strong” and feel tired at the same time…being tired, doesn’t make you weak or not strong…you’re just tired! In other words, looking at it from a different perspective. “I’m just tired at this moment, but I’m not weak.” The same goes for feeling “confident”. Vava’s actually really shy, but she’s so confident and strong at the same time. I think that we all need to give ourselves more credit and try to look at things in a different perspective when that little negative voice starts telling us bad things. Which brings me to “Beautiful”….EVERYONE is beautiful in their own unique way. I think it’s really important to remind everyone of that because it’s quite easy to get lost in the standard that is set by the media as what defines beauty.
BTRU: What is the one piece of clothing or accessory every woman should have in their closet right now to help them feel strong, confident and beautiful on the coldest and dreariest of winter days?
ANGIE: Thigh high boots…..HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Something about those darn things that just make me feel like I can take over the world in them!!
VAVA: You’re gonna laugh, but it’s not clothing for me right now…HAHAHA! Normally I would say anything sequins, but really it’s all about my highlighter! HAHAHAHA! EVERYTHING looks great with a good highlighter! Oh, and pretty panties.
BTRU: From your social feeds, it seems food is just as important as clothes. What’s your go-to meal/food that always makes you feeling strong, confident and beautiful?
VAVA: A tic tac! HAHAHAHAHAHA (Inside joke)! But seriously, I feel my best when I’m really clean. So greens and protein. My goto is a hearty salad with a million toppings or an acai bowl.
ANGIE: BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Can I just say, food? HAHAHAHA!!! You can’t ask me that question!! That’s like asking a parent which child is their favourite! You just can’t!
BTRU: There isn’t a secret sauce to success but many successful women do have habits that stand out from others. What habits would you say contribute to your collaborative success?
VAVA: HAHAHA! A few things, we are stubborn and we never give up. We are resourceful and always figure things out. We are hard working. We strive to continue to learn. We have the ability to adapt to the forever changing world. We preach consistency.
ANGIE: What she said, but I never really work… so I don’t know what she’s talking about…HAHA
BTRU: Who is your favourite female #Truboss and why?
ANGIE: My all time favourite will always remain Coco Chanel. I respect her in many ways, the impeccably tailored designer, the smart and savvy business woman, and the unapologetically bold human she was. She was ahead of her time. She broke rules and always thought outside of the box. She ran with the brand when she knew she had something special going and built it to be something that now is a part of history. She was confident and knew she was going to be a legend. To this day, her brand and legacy still live on. Hands down one of my favourite #Truboss.
VAVA: To be honest, no one really… I don’t really look up to anyone, I never have. I don’t religiously follow many people and truthfully, I focus on myself. I love Sophia Amoruso’s story, but to say she is my favourite would be so typical.
BTRU: What kind of advice can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking for a little push to launch their own business whether it be on their own or with a partner(s)?
V+A: Go with every opportunity that comes your way. You never know where it will take you, who you will meet, and what you will learn. Know that it’s okay to fail and it’s not the end of the world. Stay focused. Work hard. Never stop learning (more importantly, always learn from your mistakes). Follow your gut because sometimes some things will not make sense in your brain. Be patient with others. Embrace change. Live within your means. Save your money.