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Stories

Jenny Nguyen-Barron

by margit


About

Jenny is originally from Adelaide, Australia. She recently got married and lives with her husband near Washingthon Square Park in New York.

Contact

twitter  
instagram 
website

 

The other day over dinner with our friend Colin, we talked about mediocre superpowers - meaning a superpower that isn't completely illusionary. Here is one for you: Getting by on just 2 hours of sleep, so that you have more time for all the other exciting things in your life. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But if you are the only one able to enjoy it, maybe it gets old after a while. So, let's think of something, that is not limited to yourself, but might even be more useful to other people. What would your mediocre superpower be? Another example: Having the ability to almost instantly cheer-up anyone - no matter their degree of self-imposed sadness or melancholy? Having such positive and contagious energy, that no one can resist it? Wouldn't that be awesome? Well, Jenny’s got exactly that one!

She is a true people person, a pleasure seeker and a human powerhouse. On her website meltingbutter.com she and a team of international contributors are curating hotspots around the globe. In other words, imagine having a best friend in pretty much every major city, whose aesthetic, interests and taste coincide with yours - not pretentious, not flashy, but innovative, fun and authentic - who you can ask just about anything, from where to eat, where to sleep, where to dance, where to shop, where to get your art fix and where to unwind, and who will always give a recommendation, that is spot on and right up your alley. Born out of a creative rut, Jenny started Melting Butter as a food blog 4 years ago, where she posted cooking recipes every few months - hence the name. When she started documenting her travels, it slowly evolved into a listing of cool places around the world, but it wasn't until winter 2013/14 that she decided to do it seriously. She left her job and started posting content daily. Melting Butter now is Jenny's main focus and has sparked many more interesting activities and assignments in a fairly short period of time - one example being a recent 3-day blogger trip to Colorado, where she accidentally signed up for zip-lining, even though she is terribly afraid of heights, which gives you just a slight idea of her spontaneous and strong willed personality. She also consults on content, digital and social media strategy and works as freelance travel, fashion and food writer for ForbesLife, NationalGeographicTraveler, Gotham Magazine and others. It really is hard to pin her down. She calls herself an entrepreneur. In my mind, she is a lifestyle curator and trend scout with a unique intuition to anticipate and tap into her generations' hedonistic cravings.

Jenny grew up in Adelaide, a city in Southern Australia, that she - despite the population of 1.3 Million - describes as small. “People there aspire to and end up in more traditional careers.” From my own experience, I can confirm that a city can feel painfully small, if you are having a hard time finding creative spirits and playmates for your mind.

Today Jenny is probably the furthest away from a traditional career - with its Monday through Friday, 9-5 workdays, project reports and clearly defined job description - than she could possibly be. Her day usually starts early with a cup of tea, a good browse through the web and her social media rounds. She will soak up and read anything interesting, she can find online and then set herself some goals for the day. With easy distractions like social media and the internet lurking behind every mouse click, you have to be organized and disciplined to stay focussed. A big part of Jenny's day is usually dedicated to project work, which could be writing for Melting Butter or working on various assignments for her clients, but she also tries to get out at some point, to find inspiration for new content and indulge in new and possibly tasty things. She is a foodie and she loves to eat, which of course is no surprise, but when she made her passion her career, every dumpling soup she slurps down and every bagel she has, also became her job. Jenny is always on, always working or thinking about work - from the moment she gets up to the moment she goes to bed. 

Knowing where she comes from and where she is today, you can probably imagine, that her path is not the most linear one. She actually studied law at university. (Something that, when she first told me, made me go: WHAT?! ) However, she quickly realized, she didn’t want to be in the conservative environment that seemed to come built-in with this subject. She knew - for her own sanity - she needed to be in a more creative climate. What that meant exactly and how she would get there, was unclear. But one thing was clear: She needed to make a change.

I somehow managed to turn my hobby and passion project into something real. It’s really hard work and it’s hard to switch off, but it’s worth it to own something that you love and that you’re proud of.

Feeding her hunger for culture and new experiences, she first moved to Melbourne, but just like her hometown before, her home country soon felt too small - she wanted to see the world. Like many young Australians, she ended up leaving and ventured out - halfway across and around the globe - to London, Amsterdam and finally New York. She worked for marketing and advertising agencies and developed big global TV, print, digital and social campaigns for brands such as Bottega Veneta and Volvo. The business experiences, she made, working in the creative communication and digital space for all those years, are experiences, that heavily inform what she does with her site. They helped her steadily grow Melting Butter and make it what it is today.

Her inspiration comes from friends, family, anyone she meets while out, places she goes, things she experiences and any meaningful interaction she has. They make her happy and she wants to pass them on to the world - these interactions and the inspiration, she gains from them. She wants to be a resource for people, who are seeking inspiration, ideas and extraordinary experiences that make their lives fuller and richer. And with almost 10,000 followers on twitter and 4,000 likes on Facebook, she surely is on the right track and might want to get used to flying a little higher.

 

Three Questions

What would you say were the biggest obstacles and challenges you had or have to overcome on your way?

Probably myself! It took me a long time to have the confidence in myself to put visible effort into something at the risk of failing in front of my friends, family and peers.

What helped/helps you overcome them?

Obviously the support of my husband and the closest people around me. But moving to New York City played a big part in overcoming it all. This city is full of people, who have the confidence to try and realise business ideas. That really inspired me to do it myself. People here are so supportive and complimentary when you put yourself out there and the opportunities presented are endless. When I started to get a taste of it all, I became so much more confident in my work that I took the leap and quit my day job!

Is there anything you would say, you had to learn the hard way?

I think I'm still learning this but it's important to know your financial worth. Sometimes it's hard to say no to an opportunity to work on an amazing project, but if the financial reward is not equivalent to the time and energy you're putting into it, there's an opportunity cost that you need to consider seriously. I realised working for myself, something really simple that we hear all the time but don't really comprehend - that time really is money!