How Charles Kieu overcame the odds to create his own empire

Published: Sun 31 Oct 2021, 1:29 PM

Last updated: Sun 31 Oct 2021, 1:30 PM

When you’re just starting out in an industry, it can be exhausting to hustle without any connections. While you’re still waiting to get your big break, it can be a good idea to take on any opportunities you’re offered. Charles Kieu has several different jobs in the music and fashion industry, and he learned a lot from trying out new things.

Kieu started working to become an entrepreneur while he was in college. Getting into university was difficult, but he knew he wanted to get a degree as a first-generation immigrant. “Going to school was important to my parents, and I knew I wanted to have something to fall back on,” said Kieu. He had a 3.0 GPA, but he credits his ability to get in to his community service record. During his junior and senior years of high school, he had more service hours than anyone in his school district. “I knew I had to stand out in some way,” he said. “The odds were against me, but I kept pushing.” In the end, he was accepted to the University of California, Riverside, to study business marketing. Kieu knew that everything he wanted to do could not be covered in college. “It was incredibly taxing to work on a business while I went to school, but I think it was worth it to enjoy the success I have now.”

While Kieu was still in college, he started getting into EFTs, production work, styling, event coordination, and helping businesses expand, and he was entirely self-taught. He would also spend an hour each way driving to Los Angeles to stand in line for clothes and shoes so he could sell and flip apparel. He soon realised that this model wasn’t sustainable and explored other work. However, grabbing all of these possible opportunities had a profound impact on him. “I knew I had to hustle to get a career I loved,” Kieu said.

From there, he managed the business for an app called CoppApp and started his own Shopify store. In the first year he joined, he made seven figures on the platform. Eventually, CoppApp was retired, and he created Cookies N Kicks, one of the largest sneaker resell stores in Los Angeles. “I knew I had talent, and I didn’t care exactly what opportunity came my way,” Kieu said. “I just knew that I wanted to learn and try new things.” He now manages an up-and-coming artist called KillVal, who had a breakout song surpassing 32 million streams on Spotify, and he’s signed a distribution deal. He also set up a show for the third anniversary of Juice Wrld’s album, Good Bye & Good Riddance, which over 2,000 people attended.

“I’m not sure where my passions ultimately lie,” he said. “However, I know that I’ve grown as a person taking these jobs and learning to be an entrepreneur. And I’ve grown into a successful person, despite the odds stacked against me. I can’t wait to see what I do next to change the world.”

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