Entrepreneurial Hannah Le from Birmingham has recently embarked on a childhood dream of becoming a model. This change of career direction evolved from running a beauty salon and also teaching aspects of it. Hannah’s down to earth approach and experiences of life makes her both realistic and ambitious in pursuing her goals. In this article she speaks to Nee Hao to give us an insight into her world.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, such as where you’re from?
I was born in Vietnam in Saigon. I’m not sure exactly what age I was when I came to the UK…I was probably around 6 years old. We came to Birmingham and I’ve been based here ever since. I’m Vietnamese, part Chinese and part French…I can’t remember what my mum said but it’s something like that hehe.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m a very passionate hard working person, if I enjoy something I usually focus all my attention on it to make it as successful as I can. I’m quite a shy person, my pictures might tell you otherwise but I’m not as outgoing as people might think. Once you get to know me I like to think I’m bubbly and happy. I always try to smile whatever the situation. I like to be helpful and give to people whenever I can, well at least to the people I love and to those I feel deserve my time. I think I’m also quite forgiving, perhaps sometimes too much so.
How did you get into running a beauty shop, and what is your role?
When I reached the age of 18 I decided that I didn’t want to work for anyone else. I wanted to be my own boss, and to this day I’ve managed to work for myself and make a living. I started working in the nail industry as it was good business at the time and there wasn’t as much competition as there is now, this is how I started my career in the beauty industry. I later opened my first salon when I was 21 and this later developed into other services including beauty, hair extensions, eyelash extensions, the list goes on I now also teach in these areas.
Why have you decided to go into modelling?
I’ve always loved the idea of becoming a model and from an early age. I love being in front of a camera. I’m not ashamed to say that I came from a poor background but this is perhaps what has inspired me to do well for myself. Making a living always has to be a priority especially when you have a family to look after, it’s unfortunate that the modelling never really happened because of this. I have a little more time to myself nowadays, this is why I really wanted to explore my childhood dream of becoming a model. Sometimes I think I’ve started too late, but if I never try now I’ll never know. I don’t want to look back at my life with any regret. I love the photography side of modelling and the art that goes with it, I get inspired by beautiful photographs I see.
What to you hope to achieve from it?
I like fashion modelling, the artistic side of modelling, and I love exploring new ideas. Realistically it would be advertising or promotional work that I would probably get into. I really admire work from great photographers and would hope to work with them in the near future.
What’s in your portfolio so far?
There’s been bits and pieces from the past but I want to look ahead and create a brand new portfolio that really expresses my ideas. I’m working with some photographers at the moment to create some new work so watch this space!
Do you think it’s harder or easier for Brit/Chinese /East Asians to break into modelling in the UK?
From my point of view I think it’s very hard for a little Vietnamese girl like me to break into the modelling industry. I like the challenge and the harder it is the more I want to rise up to it, there’s always no harm in trying new things!
A wise friend once told me “the word no is a very harsh word, but it’s all part of the journey, accept it and continue to give it your best shot, if you are afraid of hearing the word no you will never get anywhere in life”. I use these words to make me work harder, when I hear no it just makes me want to succeed and prove people wrong.
I know my look and size might potentially limit the sort of modelling career I have but to answer your question, I don’t think being of any particular background is a disadvantage in the UK modelling industry. If you’ve got what they’re looking for then you’ll make it.
Would you describe yourself as a businesswoman?
I would say I am very business minded, I’m always full of ideas sometimes I want to explode with all the ideas I have, haha I give myself a headache sometimes thinking about work and new ideas all the time!
What places have you been to that is really nice?
In the last 4 years I have done a lot of travelling, I’ve seen many new places, new cultures, each place has its own beauty. I love to eat so it’s great to try all the different types of food. Recently I’ve been to Vietnam, Hong Kong, Venice, Rome, Marbella, LA, Las Vegas, California and Florida, some of them I have revisited because I’ve enjoyed it so much.
Where would you most like to do a photo shoot in?
Probably somewhere over in America on a nice beach
What’s your favourite cuisine?
I would have to be loyal and say Vietnamese cuisine but I love all types of food!
What’s a typical day for you?
I don’t really have a typical day, every day is different. I don’t have much of a routine, one day I could be doing beauty work, another day I could be doing a shoot with a new photographer, on some days I might be doing bridal hair and makeup. I like to keep at least one day a week to spend time with my family, normally a Sunday.
Who do you admire or has influenced you?
I get inspired by talented people who are passionate about their art. There are too many to list but I’m fortunate that some of them are my friends. I’m sure they know who they are.
What do you do to relax?
I actually really enjoy photo editing and spend a lot of time doing this. I enjoy cooking and doing the house work, perhaps not other people’s idea of relaxing but I hate doing nothing.
What are your future plans?
I’m currently working on a glamour calendar which will include me. I’m hoping to get together with some well known girls to produce something pretty good. I’m looking to open a new salon and I also have an ambition to open up a pho cafe.
Do you have any pets?
No sorry I’m really scared of animals…even goldfish
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