If a gift from Red Envelope has brought a smile to your face, you can
thank the gift-giver as well as Kristine Dang (attended
The San Francisco-based company, known for its luxurious yet affordable
gifts, is largely the result of a risk she took seven years ago when
she left her job at Williams-Sonoma to join a startup Internet retailer
with the not-so-appealing name, 911 Gifts.
Her gamble was well worth the seven-day work weeks and the lack of sleep
that followed. Dang is now an executive vice president overseeing the
merchandising and creative efforts of a thriving company that reported
$79.3 million in sales last year.
Once an aspiring fashion designer, Dang was attracted to SFSU's apparel
design and merchandising program as well as its proximity to her parents
and nine siblings.
For five years Dang studied fashion illustration and apparel design,
took marketing and computer classes and grew savvy in the relatively
new arena of Web design. The broad range of skills she picked up at
SFSU made her an ideal candidate for the startup.
Dang redesigned the company's Web site, wrote a new business plan, attended
trade shows and forecasted sales for the company. Eventually the progress
piqued the interest of investors who helped bring in top-level executives.
But most importantly, there was the name.
Dang looked to the New Year's traditions of her native Vietnam for inspiration.
"When I was young, every New Year's my dad would hold red envelopes
behind his back, our eyes would widen and we'd start screaming because
we knew there was something great in that envelope," she says,
referring to the Asian tradition of giving children money in red envelopes.
Dang enjoys passing on that same type of excitement inside the company's
signature red boxes with hand-tied white bows, each arriving with its
own story -- all ideas which came from her.
She feels fortunate to be part of a rare dot-com success story. Dang
has worked hard and apparently the red envelopes from childhood have
proven true to their promise: In Vietnam the contents are known as "lucky
-- Adrianne Bee