When Nguyet Hoang moved to Prince Edward Island, she found few places to buy solid wood furniture with classic lines.
“I haven’t seen such kind of furniture here,” she explains, sitting at a dining table in a store showcasing polished pieces in rich dark caramel tones.
“There should be room for me to enter this market,” she says.
Nguyet “Ivy” Hoang entered this market in early 2018, when she opened Ivy Furniture on the main floor of the Confederation Court Mall. Her shop offers living room, bedroom, dining room and library furniture crafted in her native country of Vietnam and imported to P.E.I. She describes the furniture construction as more traditional, the design more classic — reminding some Islanders of the Victorian furniture from a beloved grandmother’s home.
Hoang describes the atmosphere of P.E.I. as the main reason her family now calls it home. She moved from Ho Chi Minh City with her husband and son in 2017.
“For us, the most important is the peace in mind,” Hoang says, explaining her family’s attraction to the Island. “We would like to come to a quiet place, peaceful place rather than the cosmopolitan city, where it’s noisy and it takes time to adapt. P.E.I. is the right choice for us because we can slowly get adapted to life. “
Hoang also appreciates the Island’s natural features, including its maritime climate and proximity to the water. “I like the sea,” she says. “In our home country, we have to take about one hour and a half to go to the beach and come back.”
Hoang immigrated under the Provincial Nominee Program and saw her background in furniture as a natural foray into business here. In Vietnam, she ran a small furniture factory, which mainly exported to Russia and Europe. That furniture and export experience, plus her previous work in office administration with foreign companies in Vietnam, gave her skills she now uses to import furniture and handle shipping logistics and cost.
“If you can’t control well, it will be higher,” she explains.
The furniture factory, now owned by family members, continues to supply Hoang’s store. Most of her featured items are made from kiln-dried American yellow poplar, which she says stands up well in this climate and provides rich finishes.
Hoang says the majority of Ivy Furniture’s customers have not been newcomers but longtime Islanders eager to find solid wood furniture with traditional details. She agrees it’s a specific market, but one that could be expanded through possible sales or supply to other parts of Canada.
“I’m a new brand, so I need to make people understand and trust the brand of mine.”
Though a few shoppers have suggested she could add modern styles to her showroom, Hoang plans to focus on her niche market for classic furniture.
“I go with what I am good at, and I have experience with,” she says.