Mandy Kao started her first business at the age of 6. Her product? Rainbow-colored flour-and-water baby-doll figurines. Her business plan? Sell each one for a profit and buy a pet turtle. As far as childhood investments go, a friendly reptile is a pretty solid one, but the biggest return on this fledgling enterprise turned out to be a life-long love of entrepreneurship.
Today Kao runs Titan Management, a real estate empire she co-founded, and heads a self-named and -funded foundation for young people. She is also the founder of CEO Glam, a popular fashion website that takes those three letters to some eyebrow-raising places. (“Mandy is the CEO of her business, her family, and her life,” reads her bio. Recipes are available under the heading “CEO of Food.”)
Recently, the busy blogger, mother of three, and, yes, CEO sat down with Houstonia to talk “housewife” style, up-and-coming Asian designers, and why even ridiculously glam business moguls should shop at Forever 21.
How would you describe your style?
I have the yin and yang; I mix my Rolex watch with a three-dollar bracelet. I like to always mix opposites. I would never wear head-to-toe designers. If I see something I like, then I’m going to translate it myself, with my own twist. I’m not afraid to mix something designer with Forever 21. I try not to dress like a housewife: high-heel shoes and a big bag.
Do you have any favorite designers?
I started collecting Chanel when I was 16. I usually always wear something Chanel. I think it reminds me of the special times I had with my mom—we’d go shopping and she’d buy me a special purse. I also like to wear and promote Asian women designers: Chloe Dao, Gemma Kahng, Nha Khanh—she’s from Dallas, strong and feminine. I love her style. I like to support them by buying something every year, every season. We can all help each other.
What is CEO Glam?
It’s a page that’s fun and fashionable, but the message is that I want to help other women be the best version of themselves. I want them to feel abundant. Even when I was first married 20 years ago and all our money went back into the business, I always felt abundant. I never felt lack. When you think that way, the universe will conspire to make it happen.
Did the universe make that turtle you wanted happen ?
Oh yes! I bought him with the profits and carried him around everywhere I went in a “handbag” of sorts. It was one of those almond cookie tin cans! The turtle was a good investment. He was my best friend.