Entrepreneurship in action: St. Olaf student opens Vietnamese bubble tea shop
A full-time St. Olaf College student is also the entrepreneur behind Northfield’s first Vietnamese bubble tea and food shop.
Chau Truong ’24 opened Tin Tea in 2021 during her sophomore year at St. Olaf.
In a recent Northfield News profile, Truong shares that she completed quite a bit of research on food and beverage trends prior to opening her business, which offers milk and fruit teas, boba teas with tapioca pearls, spring rolls, and bahn mi sandwiches. With no similar shops for miles, she knew Tin Tea could be a success in Northfield — but didn’t originally plan to try out the idea while she was still working on her degree.
“I wasn’t supposed to do this during college, but when we found the space, it was impulsive,” she told the newspaper. “I had a conversation with my family about running the business while expanding my education, and we went from there.”
Truong says becoming part of the St. Olaf campus community helped speed up her plans.
“St. Olaf showed me that there is a huge desire for a more diverse palette in Northfield,” she says, “which made my drive much higher to open Tin Tea as soon as I could.”
St. Olaf showed me that there is a huge desire for a more diverse palette in Northfield, which made my drive much higher to open Tin Tea as soon as I could.Chau Truong ’24
It has been a challenge for Truong to manage her full-time business while managing a rigorous academic load.
“Balancing the two requires patience and understanding from the ones around me and commitment to a hard work ethic,” she says.
Despite it being “no easy task,” Truong remains motivated. She says she’s been buoyed by the support of and encouragement from St. Olaf faculty members, including some who have become Tin Tea regulars.
“Waking up every morning and remembering that I am extremely privileged to pursue my education and run a business simultaneously reminds me that I have a special place in this community and in the greater world,” she says. “Those reminders drive me to work at full capacity, each and every day.”
Above all, Truong’s entrepreneurial ambition has been motivated by her parents, who immigrated from Vietnam two decades ago and eventually settled in Faribault, just south of Northfield.
“They are my greatest role models and nothing inspires me like they do,” she says.