Alexis Matthews-Frederick currently runs four companies, across retail, health and nutrition, education and finance. With a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology & Sociology, specialising in organisational psychology, she brings over two decades of corporate experience at notable companies like Volvo and Century Yuasa Batteries, as well as contributions to the Gateway Bridge Upgrade Project.
She supports her local community as the Vice President of the Logan Chamber of Commerce and as member of Regional Development Australia representing Logan & Redlands. She champions improved educational outcomes through her venture, “TAP: To Activate Potential,” and advocates for the Home School Community on the Logan Education Round Table.
As a Vietnamese refugee, Alexis brings a unique perspective and rich cultural background to her business and corporate relationships. Passionate about fostering collaboration among diverse groups, she has re-trained in the health and nutrition sector, aligning with her goal to enhance community health and wellbeing.
I have only vague recollections of my family’s arrival in Australia as refugees from Vietnam when I was just two years old. It was 1981. There was still much turmoil there after the Vietnam War. My father had been part of the South Vietnam military special forces, so there was no real option but to leave.
How they left was quite sad. My parents left Vietnam with a handful of family members in the dead of night. They left a letter with a neighbour to hand over to my grandparents in the morning and set off, not knowing what the future held. My dad organised for us to escape on a wooden boat. I was one of three children under the age of two on the boat – myself and two other cousins – and it was quite scary.
The voyage, lasting about seven days, became harrowing as we ran out of food. Fortunately, an American Navy ship appeared on the seventh day, rescuing us and bringing us to the Philippines. I don’t recall those memories but when my parents retell the story it’s very heart-wrenching for me to know what our family went through.
After a year in the Philippines, we were offered a permanent home in Australia. Settling in Wacol, Brisbane, life in our small wooden dwelling felt foreign, and the language barrier added to my mother’s anxiety.
Growing up in a Vietnamese household in Australia, I initially felt different but later embraced the diversity. Despite the challenges, my strict upbringing instilled a strong work ethic and gratitude for the opportunities provided by my parents. This gave me a level of awareness and a drive to do what I needed to do to get where I am today.
When my family arrived in Australia the focus was on assimilation – trying to amalgamate into what we thought the Australian culture was at the time. I don’t think we defined it properly. Now I see that it’s about diversity.
I feel I have a role to lead by example by making cultural diversity a norm in all areas of my life. I advocate for celebrating cultural diversity, particularly through food, which has the power to unite us.
Being different hasn’t been without its challenges. Growing up I just wanted to belong and not stand out. I have a daughter now who’s 15 and she is completely different to me. She loves who she is. I guess it’s less about adversity than becoming aware of and celebrating the differences.
My pursuit of entrepreneurship didn’t all happen all at once. Inspired by my parents’ entrepreneurial spirit, I founded Professional Nail Salons after university while I was also working in human resources. What was supposed to be a side hustle is now 22 years old!
Over time, my businesses expanded to include Think Feel Thrive, which I initially got into to address my daughter’s health issues, and TAP: To Activate Potential, focusing on coaching and mentoring for a positive mindset. My Time Accounting naturally followed to support my clients’ financial well-being.
So the four businesses happened organically, each being interconnected and linked. For me, that’s what business is about – solving problems.
While busy with my ventures, I maintain a balance by giving back to the community and cherishing time with my family.
For aspiring migrant entrepreneurs in Australia, I encourage seeking support, as there is a wealth of assistance available from both the government and the community. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a crucial step toward success.
Organisations such as your local Chamber of Commerce are eager to support entrepreneurs and you’ll meet people like me who’ve been there and can provide practical, experience-based advice.
Help is readily available – all you need to do is ask.