IAM1896 – Entrepreneur and Digital Content Creator Runs a Designing eCommerce Business

Podcast Interview with Emily Duong

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode of the IAMCEO podcast, Emily Duong, a 22-year old entrepreneur and digital content creator, is the guest. Emily graduated from Chapman University and has a strong background in competitive sports, including figure skating and tennis.

After years of competitive skating, Emily discovered a passion for designing her own dresses. When she was 17, she turned her love for design into an eCommerce business, Elite Skate Wear, which she continues to manage and grow today.

In the podcast, Emily shares valuable insights:

CEO Hack: She recommends two books that she has found insightful: “Principles” by Ray Dalio and “The Daily Stoic”.
CEO Nugget: Emily advises being strategic about approaching business and keeping one's eyes focused on the goals at hand.
CEO Defined: For Emily, being a CEO means living life according to your own terms.

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Emily Duong Teaser 00:00

My ability to understand the skating community in itself really well has allowed, the brand to grow in strength and just in general, be able to stand out among the crowd of other dressmakers. Whereas we are coming in more of as a brand like, Lululemon or Nike where skaters just naturally want to be a part of that community and just buy from the brand because it's something that they're a part of, not just that they're wearing. If that makes sense.

Intro 00:29

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the IAMCEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:56

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the IAMCEO podcast. And I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year.

And we're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, and what I like to call the CB Nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month, we are focusing on operations. The systems will set you free. So think about systems, think about flow, sustainability, potentially working out in your morning routine, waking up early e-commerce, and different business models. Think of the operations in the models that basically set up the foundation to allow the creativity within organizations, but also to make sure the trains are running on time and things are going as they should.

Now, this is extremely important because we often can turn to the sexy parts of business and forget about the operations and how important that is. So I really want to focus this month on this specific topic. So sit back and enjoy this special episode at the IAMCEO podcast.

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the IMCEO podcast. And I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Emily Duong of Elite Skatewear. Emily, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Emily Duong 02:14

Thank you so much for having me.

Gresham Harkless 02:17

No problem. Super excited to have you on. And what I want to do is just read a little bit more about Emily so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing.

And Emily is a 22-year-old entrepreneur and digital content creator and a recent college graduate from Chapman University. Growing up on the East Coast, she was a competitive elite-level figure skater and USTA-ranked tennis player at the age of 18. She packed her bags to pursue her dreams of living in Southern California.

With 10-plus years of competitive skating experience, she found a niche and love for designing her own dresses at the age of 17 and created her own e-commerce business, Elite Skatewear.

Today she continues to scale the business as well as writing weekly on her lifestyle blog and growing her podcast Young and Ambitious. Emily, are you ready to speak to the IAMCEO community?

Emily Duong 03:02

I am ready.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:03

Awesome. Let's do it. So I wanted to kick everything off with what I call your CEO story to hear a little bit more about you and what led you to start your business and your podcast and all the awesome things you're working on.

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Emily Duong 03:12

Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. So as I mentioned, I started my business around the age of 17. So I was a junior in high school and at the time I was still competing and I just always was really drawn to doing things myself. And I think that kind of set the foundation of my entrepreneurship personality.

And so when it came to my dresses, as I got older and more competitive in the sport, I realized that I felt really connected with the musicality of my routines, as well as just putting together the finished costume myself in terms of design and just the overall look and vision.

And so, later on, I always got comments and praise on my designs and my dresses. And I realized that it was a good opportunity to just try it out as a business. So I initially started on eBay and I had a few designs up there and it picked up pretty quickly.

And as I went into college, my college years, I brought that business along with me and really started to seriously scale. I'd say around the junior year of my college time. And from there I started working with retail partners in pro shops throughout different rinks in the U. S. And from there I have expanded to about 10 stores now in the U. S. And continue to work on that.

Gresham Harkless 04:34

Nice. I absolutely love that. And I know there's definitely probably a lot of people listening to this that are wanting to be able to just do it as you been able to do. And you said you and I think it's one of the, I guess maybe secret entrepreneurial skills.

You have to have where just wanting to try to do things and go out and just put yourself out there as far as creating things. So it definitely sounds like that's been something you've been able to do and to master it sounds like.

Emily Duong 04:55

Yeah, yeah, 100%.

Gresham Harkless 04:57

Absolutely. So, I wanted to hear a little bit more about elite skate, where could you take us through exactly what we'll find when we go to your site?

Emily Duong 05:04

Yeah, so elite skatewear is quite a niche product and a very niche industry, especially if you're not a figure skater or you're not familiar with the sport at all. So I think that's been a nice selling point for me, especially just as a Blogger and entrepreneur in combination.

Elite skatewear. I essentially work with customers and skaters on designing custom dresses for them. So these are the dresses you see, on TV in the Olympics. I'm just I think of it like wedding dresses where people get them customized. It's to their exact measurements.

So, for my customers, they are actually sending in their measurements, their torso, waist, everything, and a specific design, whether they chose directly from our website or I worked with them to alter a previous design. We've done just to fit their needs more. Everything is just being custom-designed for them.

And then a typical turnaround is about 4 to 6 weeks. And then that gets shipped out to them. And I do all of that shipping and packing and etcetera. So, that's more of the product and service side, but on top of that, a key differentiation for Elite Skatewear is that it is a brand and also a community within the figure skating world, which we've been growing, especially on social media, Facebook, Instagram, and that's just been really, really nice for skaters to enjoy with us.

Because everyone in the industry is very, not only competitive, but it's typically more selling a dress to a skater and leaving it at that. Whereas we are making a community out of it on Instagram and, celebrating other skaters within Southern California where we are based or just even on the East Coast, wherever we are celebrating skaters on their wins and their accomplishments.

And we're really engaging with the community. So that's another big factor within Elite Skatewear.

Gresham Harkless 06:59

Nice. I absolutely love it. Sounds of course, you were, a part of that community and you still are a part of that community just in a different way, but you understand it a lot more. I don't know if that's been your been your perspective.

Emily Duong 07:09

I would say so 100%. I would say that my ability to understand the skating community in itself really well has allowed, the brand to grow in strength and just in general, be able to stand out among the crowd of other dressmakers.

Whereas we are coming in more of as a brand, like Lululemon or Nike, where skaters just naturally want to be a part of that community and just buy from the brand because it's something that they're a part of, not just that they're wearing, if that makes sense.

Gresham Harkless 07:39

It makes so much sense. And I think when that community doesn't exist to be able to have 1 or to build 1 as you've been able to do definitely allows that opportunity for us to have a voice, but also have a platform to some degree.

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Emily Duong 07:50

Exactly. Exactly. And I would say, yes, 100%. It has really helped skaters feel a part of something rather than just, seeing each other as competitors as, the sport and most sports are very competitive.

So, it's sometimes hard to remove that competitive thought when you're dealing with our skaters. So I think this community we have been growing and building has allowed them to alleviate that.

Gresham Harkless 08:15

Yeah, absolutely. And this might be, your secret sauce. And I know you already touched on it a little bit. But do you feel like that competitive background that you were doing for so long at a young age and able to do that consistently? Do you feel like that helps you out as far as your business, but also your podcast and growing all the things that you have?

Emily Duong 08:34

I would say that my background in skating and just as a competitive athlete has allowed me to maintain my competitive spirit and, my self-discipline in, in having a business as well as a podcast that has definitely helped me in all aspects. And I think. That perspective as well as just really understanding my way of thinking when I was younger and as an athlete has, I've been able to translate that and relate to those who are my age or, my age when I was competing as well.

So that has allowed me to really build a true human relationship and connection in both my podcast as well as my business.

Gresham Harkless 09:17

Absolutely. You get to really delve in, you get that connection as far as you've been able to do with the blog and the podcast that you really get that deeper relationship in that community as you've been able to grow.

Emily Duong 09:27

Yeah, and I would just add 1 more thing, too, is that I find that is just a huge selling point for, in terms of how to just to differentiate yourself from others. And I think that, with social media and technology growing, I think that we're losing a little bit of that human touch.

And I think that's why, my ability to understand the consumer thinking and the way that what makes them really accepts tick in a way, like what makes them drawn to a brand or drawn to whatever I'm working on.

It's truly that genuine human connection. And it's really important to have a technology continues to grow.

Gresham Harkless 10:04

Yeah, absolutely. It's crazy with all these ways we have of connecting with one another. And, you have Facebook, you have Instagram, you have text message, you have WhatsApp, you have this, you have so many different things that we can connect that sometimes we feel like we're more disconnected than ever before, but it's weird because we have so many different ways.

But I guess I don't want to put words in your mouth. Are you saying to you is just also how you approach and what you do on these platforms to build that connection. It's not just the platforms in and of themselves.

Emily Duong 10:32

I would 100 percent that. And I would just say as well. I think that's a big key ingredient into in the success of everything I've worked on to my blog, my podcast, the business is just being able to understand the community effect and understand the consumers as humans and people and almost as friends rather than just, business to consumer.

Because I think that's where, especially nowadays, a lot of consumers lose you because they don't feel that connection. And in my understanding of just general human psychology, just that aspect is really what pulls people into any brand and anything that they haven't met yet or talked to in person.

But when you feel like they have, and they can feel that relationship and that growth, I think that's what has at least helped me in my success.

Gresham Harkless 11:22

Yeah, absolutely. I think that a lot of times you can tell, when you're working with a business or you're buying something from a business where you feel like you're like, you're more of a metric than actually human being.

And you can definitely feel when people actually, take the time in order to build that connection, build that relationship. And you can also see that a lot in the content and information that they have as well. So I appreciate you for doing that. I appreciate you for expounding upon that as well, too.

So I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be an Apple book or a habit that you have, but it's something that makes you more effective and efficient.

Emily Duong 11:55

Okay. Yeah. I would say there are quite a few out there for me. I'd say in general, there are two books that I've read. Especially it was around the time I was pivoting. To expand into retail stores and work with, wholesale partners. And two of those books are one Being Principles by Ray Dalio. And the second one is the Daily Stoic.

Gresham Harkless 12:17

And so now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. So this is a word of wisdom or a piece of advice, or if it could happen to a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

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Emily Duong 12:27

I think a few things that have really helped me in the past few years in growing my business and just being able to manage life as an entrepreneur while I was in college, especially, I would say, being able to be really strategic and have a good strategy and kind of how you're going to approach your business and like the steps to get there has really helped me.

So, taking it into my personal example while I was in college, I was a junior in college and I knew I was, graduating in two years and I always asked myself, where do you see yourself after you graduate? And my goal was always to be able to choose my path instead of have my path chosen for me.

Because I think the problem is when you don't have a specific vision and on top of that, don't have a strategy to get to that vision, I think that's where. The line and the path towards it, you can get lost. And I think that's just a huge piece of advice I'd give to any entrepreneur and business owners to consistently have your, your vision out there and really keep your eye on that vision.

I bring it back to tennis, even just keeping your eye on the ball.

Gresham Harkless 13:33

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote-unquote CEOs on this show. So Emily, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Emily Duong 13:46

I would say being a CEO means to me being able to live a fulfilled life on my own terms. And I always have viewed being a CEO not just a CEO of a business or of all my projects, but simply just a CEO of my own life and that I'm in control of my actions, my choices and essentially the ultimate outcome of my life.

And so, my personal goal has always been to live a fulfilled life on my own terms and really be fulfilled in everything I do. And so, just essentially being a CEO really means for me, it's, living life on my own terms.

Gresham Harkless 14:26

I love that. And I love that word that you use fulfillment because I think so many times, we get lost in again, we keep going back to kind of metrics or numbers or it has to be this or has to be that.

But fulfillment is really, of incredible importance and understanding that it's not It's being a CEO as a podcast host, not being CEO as somebody that owns an e-commerce site or somebody that has a blog or somebody that owns a home improvement store. It could be all those different things, understanding that they're not necessarily one, they're all aligned and they all make us who we are and all things that we can be CEOs from.

Emily Duong 14:56

Yes. Yes.

Gresham Harkless 14:58

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Emily, I appreciate that definition. Appreciate your time even more. What I want to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and listeners know. And then, of course, how best they can get ahold of you, find out about your blog, subscribe to your podcast and all the awesome things you're working on.

Emily Duong 15:14

Yeah. Yeah. So I have quite a few I guess platforms. My podcast is just a Young and Ambitious Podcast. My co host is Sienna Mirabella. She's known for her YouTube creation. I'm also writing on my blog weekly. I talk a lot about mindset and just going back to my personal theme, living a fulfilled life.

And I share my own insights on that at My business Elite Skatewear is just And I am on Instagram at Emily E Duong. Duong is spelled D U O N G.

Gresham Harkless 15:48

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. And we will make sure to have those links and that information in the show notes as well, too, so that everybody can follow up with you and see all the awesome things you're working on.

But again, truly appreciate your time, not just for today, but all the awesome things that you're doing and helping out as far as reminding us to build a community and keep that human-centric focus as well, too. But again, appreciate you and hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 16:11

Thank you for listening to the IAMCEO podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at IAMCEO is not just a phrase. It's a community.

Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts. Subscribe and leave us a five star rating. Grab CEO gear at

This has been the IAMCEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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