Who are you? & can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am the Founder/CEO of Novel Education Group, a homeschooling and academic agency. I grew up in Portland and am first generation Cambodian. After college, I moved to LA and was a private tutor for years to many different types of students including celebrities, athletes, influencers and world travelers before starting my business. As a woman, minority, and business owner, I’m proud to share my story and be transparent about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. If nothing else, I hope to inspire another person to build the confidence to pursue her own passions.
The joy of learning has always been important to me because knowledge and education are part of a toolkit that we carry forever – regardless of circumstance, job, relationships etc. it’s forever ours, and there’s something deeply empowering about that. As an entrepreneur and education innovator, my mission is to impart the value of education and its impact on long-term success to the younger generation.
What exactly is Novel Education Group?
Novel Education Group is a private homeschooling and academic agency that specializes in providing customized curriculum and educational experiences for students with unconventional lifestyles. Among all the agencies, we seek to provide something unique and fulfilling by Making Smart Stylish Again through the art of effective education with flexible and highly tailored curriculum. The truth is, education doesn’t have to be separate from passion – they are one in the same. And what we do is find the intersection between fundamental education principles and students’ passions, academic, and career goals so that material is relevant, retained, and applicable to real life. Learning how to have a critical eye, being well-versed in speaking and writing, and having confidence in problem solving are key goals with all of our students.
In addition to the entertainment space, we also work with international/bi-coastal families who require a tailored approach to schooling, and we also provide traditional academic services, test, and college prep. Novel Education Group handles the entirety of logistics, materials, and schedules, from A-Z, so students and parents can focus solely on learning. The goal is to change the way we perceive homeschooling and academic advising and bridge the gap between unconventional lifestyles and a successful education.
What inspired you to start Novel Education Group?
My inspiration for starting this business has been 2-fold:
(1) My unexpected love for teaching, which emerged in college when I was a Biology major, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and what my passions were. Even then, I realized it was more than the act of teaching itself that resonated with me. It was about seeing the confidence that emerged and transformed my students and classmates when they “got” the material. Suddenly, everything seems accessible and tangible, and it was then that I felt a strong responsibility to share the art of education and the purpose behind teaching. I could influence a student’s attitude about school and knowledge in general. In our digital age, especially in Los Angeles, there is a ubiquitous belief that education is increasingly less relevant in a world of growing entrepreneurs and social media stars. However, I cultivated the tools to change the way young people thought about education by guiding them into gaining new appreciation for knowledge and showing them how it can impact every avenue of their lives. Especially with my uniquely influential clientele, the possibility for change became very clear.
(2) Fulfilling a huge void in the market for private, specialized education. After working with several agencies, schools, and curricula, I had first hand experience about what worked and what didn’t. My goal was to consolidate the successful components of my experience and bring best practices to Novel Education.
Novel Education’s clientele has ranged from middle class, emotionally struggling teens to international families to Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Ireland and Hailey Baldwin and the kids of Dr. Dre. If I’ve successfully changed the way these students perceive the value of learning, then we can change the way our younger generation engages with education on a larger scale. Students are able to achieve high academic success while being creative and pursuing hobbies and career goals that complement their schooling. Education can be another way of enriching the mind rather than conforming to the traditional structures of a top-down delegated curriculum.
How did you come up with the name?
It was important to choose a name that captured “new” and “innovative” at the same time. The word “Novel” represents the essence of the business and our innovative and holistic approach to learning while being a play on words that highlights our focus on schooling.
You have home schooled people like the Jenners and Dr. Dre’s kids; can you tell us about that?
Homeschooling people in the entertainment industry taught me a lot about balance and creating an environment that motivates young career minds. Being open and transparent early on about academic and career goals is the most important part of getting young people to connect with the material. Building a rapport and real relationship with the student gets them excited about prioritizing learning and making time for it, even amidst crazy schedules. Early on, as I started gaining traction and doing well with students in the entertainment industry, Kris [Jenner] took notice and hired me as Kylie and Kendall’s private educator. They were able to spend more time exploring their passions while still receiving a proper education. And at that point, our education style and philosophies struck a chord with Dr. Dre, and we were brought on to homeschool both his son and daughter.
What is your favorite part about running Novel Education Group?
My favorite part is meeting all the different types of students and discovering what their interests are. We’ve had clients from all over the world: Dubai, Mexico, Europe and all of these students do amazing things. It really opens your horizons.
What is your least favorite part about running Novel Education Group?
At times, the biggest hurdle can be working with a student’s team to prioritize schooling for their client. It’s understandable that they are focused primarily on the student’s career. So we have to keep both their career and their schooling in mind and communicate that they go hand-in-hand.
How do you spread the word about your company?
Many of our clients have come on board through word of mouth. More recently, we’ve been able to open up through more platforms including social media and publications. As we continue to build capacity, I’m able to share more messaging and tips on organization, studying, prioritization which really resonate with both young people and adults.
Can you share a success story from one of your clients that has completed your services?
I had one student in particular who was in 9th grade when we started working together. He was struggling with math and essay writing. I noticed early on that whenever we took a break during our sessions, he showed me this huge array of jazz songs he was excited about. I’ve never met a kid who was so into jazz! His family was Chinese and the student’s dad was an attorney so the pressure to follow a “traditional” path was quite heavy. At the time, he was a student at one of the most difficult and demanding private schools in Los Angeles so he barely had time to pursue his passion, which was music. After a year at his private school and our work together, helping him find his niche, he spoke openly and candidly to his parents about what he really wanted to do, and they allowed him to withdraw from the private school to transfer to LACHSA. Ultimately, he got accepted to Julliard and now has a career in music production with a major record label. When we experience these kinds of successes with our students at Novel Education, it really illustrates the impact of what a customized education can do for students. It quite literally changes their lives.
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
The most important thing is creating a solid business model and structure to support a product/service that fills a void and alleviates a pain point in the market. For us, education and academia are a perennial business; there are always current and new students and families that need academic support. Be sure to believe in what you’re doing. Knowing how to articulate your offerings will go a long way. And don’t jump the gun – take your time to curate your business before taking on several clients. Focus on the beginning, and remember why you started.
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying / Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I truly believe that a leader always instills confidence and autonomy in her employees/colleagues/peers – never the opposite. If you want people to listen to you, lift them up, connect with them, and don’t focus on trying to make it clear that you are the one in charge.