For most, SHOT Show comes with many meetings — usually planned ones. However, you may have chance encounters with people at an after party, a booth and sometimes at media events that become significant. On my third day of Shot Show, while getting lunch in the massive and packed food court, I had a chance meeting with a young woman named Vy Tran. I can’t recall exactly how we got to talking, nor did I expect to talk to anyone over the dull roar of the room. However, I soon became enamored with her very unique business, and her story left an impact.
Tran is the founder and CEO of a company called “Wonder Hoodie Inc.” With an appropriate nod toward Wonder Woman, Vy is quite the wonder woman herself. Coming from humble beginnings in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, she has been motivated to make her family, specifically her Vietnam War veteran and POW grandfather, proud. After the war her grandfather moved the family to the United States to provide opportunities for better lives.
Armed with an education in understanding the welfare of others, Tran conducted safety consulting at large companies like Google and Waymo in the Bay Area. She was born to help protect others, though I am sure at the time she never expected to be brought to this precipice.
What is Wonder Hoodie?
Wonder Hood Inc. makes bulletproof hoodies that protect against .44 Magnum semi-jacketed hollow points and everything else in the level I, IIA and II zones. Even better, these hoodies look good, resembling clothing folks typically wear. The company also offers “Wonder Denim” jackets that look great. In fact, I would absolutely wear one.
“Wonder Hoodie has created and designed the world’s first NIJ-IIIA bulletproof hoodie — the only product on the market to seamlessly and discreetly protect your body and head from bullets and knife slashing,” said Tran. “We have patented our bulletproof head technology to protect your head (back, sides, etc.) when you need it. When you don’t need it, you can just put it down — like any other hoodie. And get this, we’re usually 40 to 90 percent cheaper than our premium competitors. We don’t just make you slap on a few bulletproof rectangles into square pockets like our other competitors — our interiors wrap around your torso, protecting your sides and even offer 3 inches of overlap in the center of your chest. We’ve redefined what best-in-class protection means for bulletproof clothing. You won’t want to buy another bulletproof jacket without head protection ever again.”
Affordable for a Cause
A lot of companies use their success and message to fulfill a need. And Wonder Hoodie is no different. In fact, for every 10 hoodies sold, or jackets, the company donates one to a student or teacher through the Safe Schools Program.
Even better, prices start at $450 for kid sizes and $595 for adults. Additionally, these hoodies grow with your kids; when kids outgrow the hoodies, the company will send another in the proper size. This is just further proof the folks there understand times are tough; they are working to keep safety as affordable as possible.
Q&A With Vy Tran
I was able to catch up with Tran to learn more about the company and the woman. In fact, some of the most fascinating aspects of the company is Vy, and her very personal story on how it was founded. She certainly tells it well in her own words.
Who is Vy Tran?
My name is Vy Tran, and I’m the founder of Wonder Hoodie Inc. Prior to starting Wonder Hoodie, I was a Health and Safety Manager for some large companies around the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve consulted for companies like Google, Waymo and Amgen, etc., on health and safety protocols, risk assessments and emergency management. Personally, I was born into a poor but loving family in Ho Chi Minh City. My grandfather served in the Vietnam War and was a prisoner of war for about three years. After his release, he was granted a chance to bring his family to the U.S. This is how I first immigrated to the United States. I’m grateful every day for his sacrifices and service, and am always finding ways I can honor his memory and give back to the other Vietnam Vets in my community.
Shortly after moving to the U.S., my father passed away from liver cancer. With this, I grew up in a low-income, single-mother household in the U.S. Eventually, I became the first in my family to go to college. I majored in Health and Safety and vowed to keep workers and low-income communities healthy and safe.
What Inspired the Creation of This Product?
I made Wonder Hoodie out of a personal need, because I couldn’t find bulletproof clothing made for women and children or at a price point that I could afford.
Last year, around Christmas time, my next-door neighbor, a mother of two was walking home when she was confronted by two teenagers for her purse. She wouldn’t give it up and was shot eight times in the chest, just steps away from her home and mine. Her son, who patiently waited for her to come home, saw the entire event from their window and immediately called the police. Unfortunately, it was too late. The event made local and regional news for many days.
I couldn’t stop thinking about this event. I couldn’t sleep at night knowing my mom and little brother had to walk home every day in the same neighborhood. So, I looked online for something practical to buy them but was met with bulletproof suits and other gear for men and at prices that sometimes exceeded $4,000. Fed up that there was nothing out there for my family at a price point I could afford, I set out to make my own. I had a background in Material Science and Health & Safety, so I had an idea on how to get started immediately.
No one should have to feel unsafe living in their own neighborhood or feel powerless to protect their loved ones. My mission is to make bulletproof clothing more accessible to all who need it, and I won’t stop until this happens.
What’s in Store For the Future?
This is a little secret, but I guess its best people know about it now instead of waiting for our commercial to come out. With our bulletproof clothing, you are able to unzip the bulletproof section to wash and clean the outer clothing layer/shell. We will be selling additional outer layers and shells so you can mix and match in the near future. You can wear a black bulletproof hoodie one day and a camouflage hoodie the next!
Wonder Hoodie Specs
- Contains head protection
- Overlapping panels secured by Velcro
- Removable hoodie
- 50% Polyester and 50% cotton fleece
- Unisex sizing
- Meets NIJ IIIA standards for bulletproofing
- Weighs between 4 and 9 pounds (1.5 to 3 pounds for kid sizes)
- Available in multiple colors
- Made in the USA
- MSRP: $595-$650 ($450 for kid sizes)
For more information about Wonder Hoodie, please visit wonderhoodie.com.