KIM TRAN was a social leper growing up in Perth’s northern suburbs.
The Highgate business-woman, who immigrated to Australia from Vietnam at age three, says she and her older brother were the only Asian students at school, and thus suffered from racism.
Puberty did her no favours either, she says. “They called me ‘Asian pizza’ because my face was so pussy from my acne,” the now 27-year-old says.
“I grew up with a single mum who knew no English, and in a culture where children aren’t allowed to talk around adults because it’s rude.
“So I didn’t talk at school. I had a squeaky voice, too, so I was the just the little quiet girl in the corner. I didn’t feel like I had a voice. I was depressed and bullied because of my skin. I struggled with social skills and stand up for what I believe.”
Ms Tran overcame her insecurities after Year 12 — at just 16, a year younger than most students — going to beauty school, and starting her own business at 19.
This month she won the prestigious Telstra WA young businesswoman of the year award for work at her North Perth beauty clinic, La Belle Peau.
Ms Tran says it was only as an adult, while studying and working, that she finally developed the courage to start her own business and help others with skin problems.
“I’m so blessed to be able to transform people’s lives,” she says.
“Some come in with their heads down, but after each visit, life comes back to their little faces.”
She shares her successes with her mum, whom Ms Tran admires for being able to raise a family on limited funds, in a foreign country.
by EMMIE DOWLING