I was born and raised in Hong Kong and came to the U.S. by myself when I was 24 years old. My family had a small apartment in Hong Kong and it was easy to have conflicts and fight so I moved out of my parents place when I was 16 years old. My parents wanted me to be a white -collar worker but I didn’t want to do that. I worked as a hairdresser and we were allowed to live at the salon in Hong Kong. I had a friend who asked me to come here and cut hair. I worked in Chinatown for 2 years then came to Queens, and met my wife 36 ½ years ago. My parents especially my mom didn’t approve of me coming here but when I got my citizenship, I brought them here. My dad had TB and I wanted him to live in the States since air pollution is bad in Hong Kong. He passed away at 84 years old and outlived his own doctor.
My mom was not happy here but my parents helped us to babysit our kids. Hard work comes from our culture. I was motivated to give a better life for my family. In the Asian culture, family is first. There are other cultures that are just like us, Italian, Greek, Jewish people, they all take care of their family. Everybody is like this.
I set up my business first then I had a daughter. I worked hard to create a better life for my kids. It’s been 33 years ago when I started the business in Queens, Hair Décor, and all my employees from day one still work with us.
My son is 29 years old and my daughter will be 32 in 2 weeks. My daughter has a PhD in Business and Organizational Behavior. She continues her research and her goal is to be on tenure track while teaching at the University. My son didn’t really know what he wanted to do, so I suggested the pharmacy program. My father tried to force me to do something I didn’t want to do so I don’t want to do the same thing to my son. I give my son advice and suggest an idea. I’m glad he listened to me.
A: What do you like about hairdressing?
V: I like that when I’m done with my customer’s hair they’re happy with the results. I try my best to make them happy. It’s very satisfying. I love it when customers love their hair.
A: What is your personal goal, dream or hobby?
V: I want to live comfortably, travel, move to Texas, buy and flip houses, eat healthy. I love outdoor sports and scuba diving and I want to learn how to golf when I retire. In Hong Kong I learned carpentry, how to fix houses and worked for a construction company so I love to do that. I learned handy man work from You Tube. On days off I like to fix the house, it’s my hobby.
A: Do you consider yourself a typical Asian or not?
V: I’m a mix of tradition and modern, with a typical Asian concept but more Americanized. I’m more open.
A: What do you think about the term people of color?
V: I don’t have a problem at all for any type of color, as long as you’re a good person. Color doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care if you are Black, White, Spanish, American Indian or like me. I work with all types of people from all walks of life. I love my job because when they’re happy, I’m happy.
A: What message do you want to impart to others about being Asian American?
V: We don’t bother other people. We focus on the job, are hard working and everything is for the family. Nothing is free. You may look at us, and say oh, this person is so successful, but behind it all, you don’t know how hard we worked. Don’t give us a hard time. I just hope people will be more understanding. I think we should fix the society to be better and to live in a more peaceful world. Let’s not go backward, but go forward.