Naly is the fifth of six children to Hmong immigrants who immigrated from Laos to the United States after the Vietnam War. Naly was born on July 8, 1988 in Modesto, California before her family relocated to Syracuse, New York. Her family of eight lived in a 2-bedroom duplex in inner city Syracuse, New York and received support from the local Catholic charities. Her parents worked odd and humble jobs to make ends meat. Although they were poor, they never lacked a loving and strong family unit. Naly’s father was a school teacher in Laos and understood the power of education. He pushed all the siblings to study hard with a focus on going to college to get out of poverty. Her older siblings eventually graduated high school and began attending colleges in upstate New York.
In middle school, her parents were able to save and buy their first home, moving the family to Cicero, New York. From the diverse neighborhoods and schools of inner-city Syracuse to the suburban neighborhoods of Cicero meant that Naly and her siblings quickly became one of a handful of minority students among a cohort of white counterparts. It was there that Naly experienced her first encounter with blatant racism when a student openly mocked her and called her a “chink,” a derogatory term used towards Asians. It was difficult for all the siblings to adjust, however, Naly focused on school and didn’t let it hold her back.
She took a fond interest in reading and writing. Naly could be found enjoying the lazy New York summers reading dozens of books and writing stories in notebooks. It was here that she randomly picked up one her brother’s college textbook and taught herself how to use Adobe Photoshop 7 with the lessons and companion software CD. The hard work paid off, and in Junior-High, Naly won the English Student of the Year Award and found a new creative outlet. Just as her confidence was rising again, her parents faced a setback with their jobs and factories closing all over the New York region. They quickly sold their beloved first home and abruptly moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to start over.
In North Carolina, Naly went from a diverse school in inner-city Syracuse to a predominantly white school in Cicero, to a predominately African-American school in Charlotte, NC. Although she struggled to fit-in, she excelled at school and easily adjusted to the education regimen in North Carolina. However, at home, her family struggled to find their footing again in a new city. With three of her siblings still attending college in New York, her parents and her two brothers made the move to North Carolina living on Charlotte’s South end before it was gentrified. During that time, the neighborhoods were largely made up of the Hispanic community where her family lived in a 2 bedroom apartment. Although her parents were able to find odd jobs to put food on the table, Naly began working in a paper factory alongside her mother to help. She would go to school from morning until 2:30pm, then go to work with her mom at the paper factory from 4pm until midnight some nights.
After a year living in Charlotte, her parents with the help of her older siblings were able to buy a new home in north Charlotte for them to move to. Unfortunately, this meant Naly and her siblings had to change schools again due to the distance outside of the school district. Naly reluctantly changed high schools in the middle of the year as her family transitioned into their new home and began to relax into their lives in North Carolina.
At the age of 16, Naly’s skills in graphic design and Adobe Photoshop continued to progress. She didn’t let her formal education interfere with her love of digital design and she began to freelance. She posted her skills on Craigslist and got her very first client doing freelance graphic design work.
Naly attended the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and majored in Mass Communications. During her first semester a student called her a “chink,” reminiscent of her middle school days. However, instead of keeping her head down, she launched the universities first Asian Student Association along with her college girlfriends to educate students on asian cultures and countries. This platform, along with her passionate spirit launched her into a campus leader where she often spoke publicly at school functions about diversity. She later joined the Office of Multicultural, Minority, and Diversity Affairs’ Roundtable of Presidents, a small group of campus student founders and leaders. She traveled to local schools to discuss diversity, led speeches on diversity, and was the mastermind behind UNC Pembroke’s first diversity fair called iWorld. The event was a huge success with partnerships among all the diversity organizations on campus. She was also part of the Student Government body as PR Chair.
Her self-confidence continued to soar in college where she worked as a Librarian’s Assistant to help pay for school. She continued to freelance graphic design throughout this time, including contracting with some offices within the university itself. In her sophomore year, she applied and was selected to be apart of the exclusive UNC in DC Program - a statewide program that selected one or two students from each major university in North Carolina to attend an exclusive internship/educational experience living and working in Capitol Hill, Washington, DC.
Naly applied and was successfully accepted as a summer intern at a top Communications firm in Washington, DC while living in a studio apartment in Capitol Hill. The experience working in living in DC was life changing and made her see the possibilities of life after college. After an invigorating experience in DC, she later returned to UNC Pembroke with her eyes set on a bigger goal - studying abroad.
The following year, Naly applied and was accepted to attend the world renowned University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in Sydney, Australia. With the help of her parents and siblings who were so excited, she sold all her stuff on Craigslist and packed her bags for life down under, not knowing a single person in Australia. After a 30 hour flight from the east coast to Sydney, Naly arrived and began studying Advertising, Public Relations, and Design classes at UTS. She also found a side hustle teaching English to college students, business professionals and seniors throughout her stay in Sydney. Additionally, she continued to do freelance graphic design work to keep her skills fresh.
During her time in Sydney, she did a great deal of soul searching and simply coming-of-age. It was her first experience living and being alone in a foreign country far away from family and friends. The travel bug hit her and she later traveled to Indonesia and Europe as well. Although she wanted to stay longer, graduation was nearing so she headed back to America, and graduated from UNC Pembroke with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications.
Early career years
Naly graduated college in the summer of 2010 - one of the worst times in the economy. She moved back to Charlotte and gave herself 3 months to land a job. If not, she would move elsewhere. With scarce jobs, Naly decided to put her degree to work and started NYPR, a boutique fashion public relations agency out of her parents homes. Within one month, she landed her first client and began working on local fashion show public relations needs. Very quickly, she became disillusioned with the fashion industry and lost interest, ultimately shuttering the whole company.
With no company, no job, and no prospects of jobs in Charlotte, she packed her bags and moved to Maryland where her eldest brothers were currently living. She was very diligent about finding a job in Communications, Marketing, or Graphic Design. Within 3 months, she landed a job with a scrappy startup interested in building Electric Vehicle Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles, even though the first mass-market vehicle hasn’t hit the market yet. She also received an offer to work at a large corporate public relations company in Washington, DC. Spending the weekend to debate, and recalling her displeasure with NYPR, she took a chance and joined the scrappy technology startup. That decision changed her life.
Thrust into startup life, Naly was part of the original team that helped started the company before it became one of the largest EV Charging Station developers and producers in North America. She was the only female executive and was involved in product design, marketing, software design, public relations, sales, and customer support. She used her PR skills to get the company featured on TV, radio, and in newspapers and magazines. She moved up the ranks, working alongside the Founder and CEO, as the company grew and eventually designed one of the first EV Charging software and mobile location apps in the marketplace.
Naly eventually exited, and left to become the Director of Marketing at one of the fastest growing Cloud and Datacenter company’s in Baltimore, Maryland according to Inc. Magazine. She was one of the first female executives and completed an end-to-end rebrand of the entire company bringing them to modern design standards. This included a brand new logo, responsive website, and most importantly, redesigning the customer cloud software platform.
Present day towards future
Throughout her time as a technology marketing executive, working alongside Founders and CEOs, Naly often mentored and supported women. She advocated for the hiring of more women, and mediated difficult team environments among both men and women. Through their questions, Naly began blogging on her personal website with career advice. Within 6 months of launching her personal website, she was hand-picked to join AOL’s Lifestyle Collective distributing her articles. She later had partnerships with Lilla P and Purpose Jewelry which shared her vision of promoting and empowering women at work and life.
Throughout her career, Naly hired and fired multiple marketing agencies often feeling frustrated with high costs, over promises, little result, and poor art direction. After firing yet another agency, Naly began conceptualizing the idea for a technology marketing agency with as-a-service features. Using her personal experience interacting with agencies and pairing it with her first-hand experience working inside technology companies, she exited the cloud company to launch LN Creative Group, a technology marketing agency offering Marketing-as-a-Service (MaaS).
Today, LN Creative Group is headquartered in Annapolis, MD with satellite offices in Wroclaw, Poland and Bangalore, India. They offer technology marketing services such as responsive website, software and mobile app design and development, marketing automation, email marketing, branding, content, and more.
In addition to the success of her company, Naly began growing her speaking career covering technology, marketing, and women in business. She was a keynote speaker at the 2018 Women’s Conference in Maryland held by SCORE, part of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Naly is currently writing her debut business book, “Tech Marketing Made Simple,” which teaches business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals how to leverage technology for marketing and grow their business.
Naly currently lives in the Washington, DC metropolitan area with her husband Chris Rice, and their chocolate lab, Taco.