Le Brian’s life can be compared to the wings of a butterfly, colorful. Starting with the blues and blacks that reflect a childhood tinted with sadness. Early years spent struggling to survive among the glass edges of a broken family. Brian first left home when he was seven, an age when most boys are playing Super Mario Brothers on their Wii.
It was a road that would find him sleeping in abandoned cars and praying to God to let him grow up to become a stylist just like the barber who showed him unconditional kindness along the way. “The barber gave me money and helped me out. I told myself when I grew up I wanted to be a stylist so I could help people too”, says Brian.
Instead of playing hide and seek during his formative years, Brian was learning the game of survival, especially as he crossed the bridge from tween to teen as an orphan. Looking back on the first few pages of Brian’s life, it’s evident how his part has influenced his destiny to helping underprivileged children throughout Vietnam. But before Brian began helping others, before he became the A-listers’ hairstylist of choice, he was put on a boat to a new life. From a refugee camp on an island off of Malaysia, to the Philippines and finally America, Brian was no stranger to hunger, rats, and loneliness. Some say that past experience prepares you for the future and what you learn today are tools for tomorrow. For Brian the hardships he endured made him sympathetic to those less fortunate and cognizant of his power to leave the world a better place than how he found it.
If blues and blacks were the predominant hues staining Brian’s early memories, then a shimmering green would color the next phase of his life. It was a successful entrepreneurial decade, thanks in part to the savvy business sense he learned watching his mother selling gold and silver at the market. He learned the value of customer service and more importantly how transform ideas into profits. Brian saw every endeavor as a chance to gain valuable experience and use it to grow into other lucrative ventures. But Brian’s days spent under the Californian sun wasn’t just a time of material growth but spiritual as well. Nietzsche’s most memorable quote, one that aptly reflects the human condition and Brian’s mantra, “What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger”, drove him to become innovative in order to design a kinder, more beautiful life. From selling food on the side of the road, assembling prosthetic pieces for a medical company; recording and selling songs from famous Vietnamese artists; running a nightclub, escaping near-drowning in the Pacific Ocean; to eventually opening his first salon Brian did more than survive, he succeeded.
“Staying true to my prayers as a child, I studied to be a stylist in California. I started a business in my house, with only two chairs in the garage. Soon my customers were taking up all the parking in the neighborhood and I was reported. But I managed to get out of paying a fine. It was then I realized I needed a legitimate place. So I borrowed some money from my roommate [pop singer] Thanh Ha, and opened my first salon in Orange County. When my business was stable for five years, I decided I needed to learn more. So I left and started as an assistant at Yuki Saroni, a very famous salon in Beverly Hills. But I only earned five dollars an hour! Who can survive on that in America? But I needed to learn new skills”, says Brian. The knowledge Brian Has learned over the years is something he willingly shares with his staff. He makes it a priority to teach everything he knows to help his employees learn a valuable trade and in turn financial freedom. Eventually, Brian foresees opening a Hairdressing Academy and offering his passion and knowledge in a more structured and accessible environment.
The present colors on the butterfly’s sails that best describe Brian’s life are red and gold; colors that represent good fortune and prosperity. Brian first returned to Vietnam in 2001. He was motivated to open a salon in his home country thanks in part to his large US clientele.
According to Brian, “A lot of my clients in the US would come here to sing, and every time they came back the states, their hair was ruined! So, I went back in 2001 but after three months my face totally broke out because of the weather. The pollution, the stress, everything – my skin was a mess. I couldn’t stay anymore. I had to go back. It took me five years to make my decision to completely move back to Ho Chi Minh. But, it was the best decision I have ever made. In April 2006, we had the grand opening of my salon on Calmette St., in 2007 we opened another salon in D2 and in 2008, I was chosen to become an Ambassador of L’Oreal, the only stylist in Vietnam to be selected to represent the global brand. Which brings us up to the present, on October 2nd, we celebrated the grand opening of Le Brian Salon & Spa Clinic in D3”. The newest “spalon” is designed around the concept of the ultimate pampering experience. Set in a restored villa, the ultra-contemporary design with its natural lighting and chic interior concept is unparalleled in Vietnam. Pampered guests are given the VIP treatment from the moment they enter the luxurious milieu which includes a complete range of beauty services, including hairstyling, body treatments, waxing, facials, manicures, pedicures and massage. No detail is forgotten at Le Brian Salon & Spa Clinic from the warm hospitable upon first entering to the exotic range of teas like intricate jasmine infused pearl.
To date, Brian’s life has been a true metamorphosis from rags to riches, somber colors of the past muted by a vibrant future. Now hair-stylist for visiting royalty, celebrities, pop-stars, high-power individuals and the beautiful of Saigon, his demi-gold status belies a humble and gracious nature. Yet, Brian’s (hard-earned) fame and glory hasn’t gone to his head but instead to underprivileged children throughout the country, trying to make those less fortunate, a little more fortunate.
(East & West Magazine, November 2010 Issue, Page 58-61)