Eight years ago, T Ngu began making the kind of jewelry she wanted to wear—clean designs reflecting the beauty around her. “There wasn’t a lot of minimalist jewelry out there, something you can wear everyday that looks great on pretty much anyone,” she says.
After mere months on the scene, bloggers and buyers alike fell in love with her jewelry line, Upper Metal Class. Finding herself working through the night, T quit her day job to focus on her business.
In April 2017, she jumped on an opportunity for a storefront on NE Sandy. Her new shop, Project Object, features work by women, LGBTQ makers, and people of color, a beautiful curation of art, home and paper goods, clothing, and her own designs.
Donating 10 percent of revenues, T finds joy not in building her own wealth but in helping others. In her pop-up event space and gallery, T often collaborates with local businesses such as Via Raiz and hosts events like Dia de los Muertos: A Benefit for Mexico, where all proceeds were donated to earthquake relief.
When reflecting on her dedication to giving back, T speaks about the lessons she learned from her mother. Fleeing a war-torn Vietnam, T’s family left everything behind in search of safety. Crammed on a boat, they endured an encounter with pirates before landing in a Hong Kong refugee camp. Eventually, they were sponsored by an American family and departed for Minnesota, where T was born. Provided with the tools to succeed in America, T’s mother was able to help the rest of her family relocate—at one point housing twelve people in one small house.
As T puts it, “There is no purpose if you’re not able to share what you have, what you know, or what you do with others. Those people impacted our lives, and I hope that I can do that for others in some way.”
Written by: Nicole Carmella Buchanan
Photos by: Kim Nguyen
Published: February 2018