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Building A Billion Dollar Female Led Fashion Retail Powerhouse

As the founder and CEO of Maison Retail Management International (Maison RMI),  Mai Son Pham aims to lead Maison RMI to become one of the largest fashion and retail platforms in Southeast Asia in the upcoming 5 years. 

From humble beginnings, launching its first MANGO store in 2004, Maison RMI now has over 22 international fashion brands with more than 150 physical stores in Vietnam and owns a fast-growing e-commerce platform, MaisonOnline. 

Besides, Maison RMI is developing ambitious plans to invest over $70,000,000 into its expansion in Vietnam and other regional SEA markets over the next few years. 

In order to achieve this goal, Mai Son has shared her key management style of trust management and empowerment, especially empowering female leaders. Maison is proud of the diversity and empowerment of the female business leaders within the Maison RMI organization. With over 61% of total staff being female, Maison is a champion for the value of women in the workplace and is constantly looking to recruit new talented women to join her growing team.

Building A Billion Dollar Female Led Fashion Retail Powerhouse

Is empowerment, especially for female leaders, a trend or your motivation since the day you started your own company?

I’ve always had a passion for fashion and a strong desire to create something unique. I saw an opportunity to fill a gap in the market by offering high-quality, trendy clothing that empowers women to feel confident and express their personal style. That motivation, combined with my entrepreneurial drive, led me to start my own company originally with the MANGO brand. I wanted Vietnamese women to have access to affordable fashion brands they would love, that was the inspiration for me to start my business. We’ve since diversified with our many brands and consumer segments, but empowering women to express themselves through affordable fashion was how it started.

Building A Billion Dollar Female Led Fashion Retail Powerhouse

Building A Billion Dollar Female Led Fashion Retail Powerhouse

Building A Billion Dollar Female Led Fashion Retail Powerhouse

Building A Billion Dollar Female Led Fashion Retail Powerhouse

How have you seen the representation and leadership of women evolve in the Vietnamese fashion and overall business industry throughout your career?

Over the years, I’ve witnessed significant progress in the representation and leadership of women in the fashion industry. When I started, there were fewer women in top executive positions. However, today, I’m pleased to see more women taking the helm of major companies and making their mark in various roles, even in industries that people used to assume are only suitable for males.

Even businesses run by women sometimes have a higher chance of receiving capital investment than businesses run by men. This does not only affirm the ability of women in the business but also shows the openness and development of society.

In your opinion, what are some of the unique strengths and perspectives that women bring to the fashion industry and the workplace in general?

Women bring a multitude of strengths and perspectives to the fashion industry and the workplace. Their creativity, attention to detail, and ability to understand diverse customer needs are invaluable. Women are also fighters who are able to rise to challenges, stand up for what they believe in, communicate effectively, and defend their perspectives. Women’s ability to multitask and adapt quickly also contributes to a dynamic work environment. 

At Maison RMI, half our Board of Directors are female and half our executive leadership team is female, with many of our largest brands run by the incredibly talented ladies featured in this article with me today. 

Building A Billion Dollar Female Led Fashion Retail Powerhouse

What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

My best advice for a female entrepreneur considering entering business or starting a company in general is to THINK TWICE. Make sure that you are completely comfortable with the unknown and the idea that this could be a 10 or 20 year commitment demanding a huge amount of your time, energy and focus if you really want to succeed in business. It’s not a priority for everyone, But if you decide it’s what you want to do in life, understand this is what is required.

Building A Billion Dollar Female Led Fashion Retail Powerhouse

Furthermore, be SELECTIVE – there are more opportunities available than you have time or resources to execute – saying no is a skill and a discipline. When I meet a founder who says yes to everything – I will never invest in them. Look at our business, I’ve been running it for over 20 years and we still just do fashion, recently launching cosmetics. We’re focused on doing one thing exceptionally well. That’s the key to success.

How do you envision the future of Maison RMI?

Our vision for the future is to become one of the Southeast Asia’s leading fashion and retail platforms. With over 150 stores currently, we plan to open an additional 400 in the next few years. Our growth is not just limited to Vietnam, as we already have a presence in Cambodia with plans to enter additional markets soon. 

Building A Billion Dollar Female Led Fashion Retail Powerhouse

We have new and exciting brands in the pipeline and will also be announcing several acquisitions of existing fashion brands and retailers in the coming months. While fashion will always be at our core, the launch of LUSH cosmetics earlier in June also marks our expansion for us into a new field. It is truly an exciting time. I envision a future where customers who sign up for our loyalty program ‘Maison World’ have access to exclusive benefits and many of their favorite brands at the tip of their fingers with same day delivery via our MaisonOnline shopping platform, or one of the hundreds of stores we’ll have across the country. And no matter what, at our core, female leadership will always play an essential role in our growth and continued success.

Lastly, what legacy do you hope to leave behind as a female founder and CEO in the fashion industry?

Building A Billion Dollar Female Led Fashion Retail Powerhouse

I hope to inspire and empower other women to pursue their dreams fearlessly. By demonstrating that women can excel as leaders and innovators, I hope to pave the way for greater gender equality and diversity in the business world. I also want to make my children and country proud. That means becoming the de-facto standard and market leader for retail fashion in Vietnam. I aim to continue to be a parent whom my children look up to and are inspired by to pursue their dreams and ambitions.

The interview with CEO Mai Son was conducted by Nhip Cau Dau Tu – Issue 820, released in print edition June 2023. Please feel free to refer to the original article here.

Read more:

  1. Interesting Facts Related To Working In The Human Resources Department At Maison RMI
  2. What Makes Maison RMI A Great Place To Develop Your Skills And Grow In Your Career


– Maison Corporation Communication Team –