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Founder Feature: Dr. Jacqueline Thao Nguyen

Her mother transformed from wealthy housewife to first-time entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry in Vietnam. The change wasn’t due to a burning desire to be her own boss or fulfill a life-long passion; Jacqueline’s mom needed to support her six kids while her husband was in a refugee camp for ten years.

Jacqueline Thao Nguyen was born in Danang, Vietnam. Her family moved to Saigon, then fled the country to refugee camps in Malaysia and the Philippines. Eventually, they arrived in the United States in 1985, when Jacqueline was 15.

Her mother emphasized the importance of education for her kids, working three jobs to put them through school. Jacqueline completed her undergraduate degree in three years and graduated from the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy in 1998.

“By becoming a pharmacist, I made my parents proud,” Jacqueline acknowledged. At the same time, she felt a sense of discomfort with her career. “Why do we wait until we get sick? Why don’t we as health care professionals educate the patient on how to maintain health and have a better quality of life?”

As a clinical pharmacist and a medical therapy management pharmacist, Jacqueline was able to sit down with patients with chronic illnesses and listen to what they needed. She studied various supplements, and found high-quality products she could comfortably recommend. When her patients started returning to thank her, she realized she’d found her calling. In 2008, she launched Dr. J’s Natural.

A grateful television producer, whose relative Jacqueline had helped with supplements, offered her a slot for her own health education talk show, which allowed her to reach out to the Vietnamese-American community with health-related information.

Dr. J’s Natural donates 10% of proceeds to various charities via Kiva, a crowdfunder for microloans around the globe.

Jacqueline has profound respect and gratitude for her mother. “I think my mom is the best mom in the whole wide world…she has sacrificed so much for us.”

Advice from this retired pharmacist? “Definitely, pursue a higher education if you can, but also do something that you love. Don’t try to do something just for the pure fact of money because it’s not going to be a fulfilling life.”

Katelyn Murphy-McCarthy

Katelyn is a writer and editor specializing in creative nonfiction. She comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, and loves hearing and sharing the stories of women who are making a difference.
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