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Unconventional Optometrist: Mariane Nguyen

18 Dec 2023 11:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Mariane Nguyen graduated in 2015 and now practices in South Coast NSW. In 2020, with she started Untagged, a small business specializing in handmade pet ID tags. 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello, YO community :) My name is Mariane and I have been an optometrist in the south coast of NSW since 2015. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine myself as an entrepreneur but that all changed in 2020. With all the spare time I had during COVID lockdowns in regional NSW, like many others, I decided to buy a new puppy. My husband and I named our new Cavoodle puppy - Archie. He had the tiniest button nose at 8 weeks old and we were in love instantly with him and couldn't say no. When it came to the fun part, the acquisition of dog accessories, we had a lot of trouble finding accessories that were small enough for him. We had trouble searching for extra small dog collars and dog tags and ended up getting a cat collar! This is where I had some time to dive into the world of pet businesses. I saw a gap in the pet accessory market for pet ID tags. I launched a collection of metal 'baby tags' which are all hand-stamped & handmade and my small business has supported me through COVID as well as maternity leave and even now in 2023.

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What made you want to study optometry/be an optometrist?

I have always wanted a career in health & have always found fulfillment in helping others. After high school, I enrolled in Adv Science @ UNSW and came across a vision module that sparked my interest in optometry.

Tell us about your typical day or week as a business owner. What do you find are the most challenging aspects and most rewarding?

The most challenging aspect of owning my own business is being able to balance work with family time. Because I enjoy making the tags as well as working on the business, it is easy for me to get lost in my home office for several hours. I have therefore decided to allocate 3 days a week where I work on my orders. Another challenge for me is the amount of time spent on my phone for social media/marketing - I am still working on this one haha. The most rewarding part of my business is seeing photos of my customer's pets in my handmade tags as well as seeing repeated customers - this is the greatest compliment for me.

How do you balance between optometry and your own business/passion project? 

It was difficult to find the right balance! What I found has helped is not leave too many loose ends behind. When I clock off as an Optometrist, I try to ensure I have finished all my referrals/reports and other optometry-related work so that my mind can switch off when I am working on my business at home. Likewise, when I am working on UNTAGGED, I do the same to the best of my ability. The reason for this is that I left too many things unfinished. I would dwell on it at home and it made me less efficient when I was working on UNTAGGED. I also have set days that I work on the business during the week and outside these times, I am either in clinic or spending time with family. This is still a work in progress. 

Do you have any advice for young optometrists out there who would like to pursue their passion but haven’t quite gotten started?

I say go for it! But before you do, ask yourself why you want to pursue this passion, how will you pursue it and what are you pursuing. I'd also recommend having a plan, and then a backup plan - don't throw all eggs in one basket, and be willing to be fluid & resilient. 

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