660: What’s Holding You Back With Vivian Chan

Vivian Chan is the Co-founder of East Meets Dress which is an e-commerce brand looking to reinvent the cheongsam dress for What’s Holding You Back With Vivian Chanmodern women and help elevate Asian American culture. Prior to this, she worked at an early stage startup that was acquired by Facebook as well as at two nonprofits (Girls Who Code and Teach for America). She graduated from Yale where she also met her best friend and Co-founder. When she’s not working, she can be found playing basketball and eating yummy Asian food across the Bay Area.

Vivian shares how she was able to finally start her own business and live life on her terms instead of holding herself back.  She also shares tips that can help you in your own journey to self confidence.


Vivian Chan is the co-founder of East Meets Dress.

Cultural Background

Vivian is of Chinese descent.

Favorite Self Confidence Quote

Everything was impossible until someone did it.

Everything was impossible until someone did it.

Definition of Self Confidence

Self confidence is the belief that your success and your life is within your power and control.  You are the author of your own destiny.

Her Life Before the Discovery of Self Confidence

Vivian always had an urge to start her own company and do her own thing in the back of her mind but she was always afraid of putting herself out there of taking the leap and going all in.  She thought starting your own company was for people who had a lot of money, a lot of experience/skill sets, large networks, etc. So this was something she would put off and mark as “I’ll do this later when she was more established in her career, or she gained enough experience. But nothing really prepares you for starting your own company than actually doing it.

Vivian also thought she had to find the perfect idea and the perfect solution first before doing anything but you come to realize that there is no perfect idea and no perfect solution.  She realized she was placing all of these internal restrictions on herself.

The “AHA” Moment

Vivian started getting more restless and began to realize that if she is not building her own dream, then she is just busy building someone else’s. She looked around her and she saw all these restaurants, grocery stores, small businesses owned by immigrants and thought to herself that if they could do it with as many barriers as they had to overcome, she could do it too since she was lucky enough to have an education, no language barriers, so why is she holding back instead of taking a risk?

She thinks as women, there’s a tendency to be more risk averse. We appreciate certainty and stability in our lives. When she was at GWC, the founder would always say that we need to teach girls to be brave not perfect.  She thought back to her mom who moved to Vegas all by herself after divorcing her dad with only $600 in her pockets to start a new life and raise Vivian by herself. If she had the self confidence, then she can too.  Her mom always told her that if she is willing to work harder than everyone else and have relentless persistence, then she will make it.

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Her Life After the Discovery of Self Confidence

After the aha moments, Vivian realized there’s no better time than now to start her own company. What is the worst that can happen? If it fails, she would have learned something very valuable (worth more than an MBA) and she can also get back up and try again.

She would say though that just because she took the risk to start EMD with her best friend and co-founder, life isn’t all perfect after developing this self-confidence and realization. There are a whole new set of challenges and obstacles that  she deals with daily now, but it certainly feels like a part of her has been freed and she is actually pursuing something that brings her meaning and happiness.  She is no longer in this state of suspension.

Everyday is more exhausting than ever, but it’s also one of the most exhilarating things she has done in her life.

The One Self Confidence Tip For the Listener

If you’re thinking about doing something but haven’t yet, ask yourself, “Why not me and so what if I fail?” I promise you it won’t be the end of the world.

A tactical advice: when you first start doing something new, it’s scary, but consistency and persistence is important. When you do something over and over until you feel comfortable doing it and get better at it, that actually leads to self-confidence.

If you’re thinking of starting your own business or side hustle, it’s now easier than ever to do so with the vast amount of resources and tools you can find online. You actually don’t need a lot of money to get started – we’re entirely bootstrapped and haven’t raised any outside investments and that’s actually forced us to be very disciplined with our product and customer experience.

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