Hi everyone! I’m Spiffy, your favorite interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making a difference on gender equality. Today I’m speaking with Jenny Nguyen, the founder and owner of The Sports Bra.
Spiffy: Welcome, Jenny! Let’s jump right in. Can you tell me what challenge The Sports Bra is addressing?
Jenny: Great to be here, Spiffy! Our mission at The Sports Bra is to support, promote, and empower girls and women in sports and in the community by way of the traditional sports bar.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?
Jenny: It started out as just an idea for a place for my friends and I to watch women's sports but then quickly grew into so much more—wrapping into our mission outreach of access for young girls to see women's sports on TV. Representation matters! I also drew upon my experiences as a female chef in a male-dominated industry, I saw just how underrepresented and under-invested and overlooked women in the food and beverage industries were. I used that experience to guide out purchasing habits to include as many local, women-owned/operated businesses as possible.
Spiffy: That’s amazing. Can you elaborate on how you and the business are working towards a more equitable world?
Jenny: Just giving women's sports its due! By giving the space and screen time to women's sports for the enjoyment, spectatorship, and fandom for the community that really hasn't been done before. We hope that by highlighting women's sports we can show the world that there is a huge market and potential for investing in women's sports. We hope that this leads to more equitable outcomes for players, coaches, and staff in terms of pay, investment, interest, etc.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone pr initiative and the impact it has on your community.
Jenny: We have already garnered a huge following and are starting a conversation that had not been had before—and we haven't even opened our doors yet! That to me says a lot about how much The Sports Bra has been needed.
Spiffy: I’m sure you experienced setbacks along the way, like any entrepreneur. Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up, and what you learned from it.
Jenny: I think this whole adventure of starting The Sports Bra is an experience in not giving up. I came into this venture with very little knowledge about business, about opening and running a restaurant, and all of the nuances of social media and marketing involved. Every day I feel like I am being challenged in a 100 different ways. Some days I lose all the battles and the feeling of wanting to just lay down and give up is overwhelming. But then I think about all the messages of support, all the letters from people who this has already impacted. I get up in the morning and just keep plugging away at it because I can't give up. Not just for myself, but for the entire community that has supported The Sports Bra wholeheartedly.
Spiffy: What is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently?
Jenny: I recently had a guy who donated the maximum amount to my Kickstarter campaign. He shared an incredible story about how he and his wife were Thorns superfans and how his wife had always dreamed of opening up a women's sports bar. She died last year from cancer at the age of 42. I learned from him that sports is never just a game. That it is a shared experience, a powerful web much like love, pain, music, art that connects us all. His story and our experience meeting each other and crying together is a lesson in love, loss, and sports that I will never forget.
Spiffy: I’m tearing up just listening to it. That’s beautiful. Thanks for speaking with me today, Jenny, and all the best to you and The Sports Bra—it’s been an honor!
Jenny Nguyen is the founder/owner of The Sports Bra, the world's first women's sports bar in Portland, Oregon. She was born and raised in Portland, Oregon to two Vietnamese immigrants. Jenny is an avid basketball player and fan and had a 15+ year long career as a chef before embarking on her newest adventure. She lives with her girlfriend Liz, Chloe the cat, and Cleo the dog. (First published on the Ladderworks website on April 6, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.