ARLINGTON, Texas — A business owned by a kid is getting a lot of attention in North Texas.
Olivia Huynh isn’t your average 11-year-old. She holds a lot of titles, including loving big sister, child actor and entrepreneur. She’s a huge fan of Harry Potter, Elon Musk and Taylor Swift.
“I want to be an actor, a singer and an artist when I grow up,” said Huynh with a big smile on her face. “There’s a lot of things I want to be when I grow up, and I can’t choose. Might as well do them all.”
We can see her love for all things outer space and cats in the decor of her Arlington bubble tea shop she claims is the only one of its kind in Texas.
Rocketbelly is straight out of Olivia’s imagination, and her pocket.
“She really is the owner,” said Olivia’s mother, Mary Huynh. “She thought of the concept and runs the place. Most of the money we used came from money she’s earned in modeling and acting gigs.”
When she was 4 years old, she told her parents she wanted to be in movies. Her mom created a YouTube channel where a very excited and talkative Oliva, who went by the nickname Ollie, made DIY arts and crafts, sweet treats and shared easy-to-make birthday present ideas.
Around that same time in 2016, Olivia started booking auditions for commercials that needed child actors. Her smiling face can be seen in various TV commercials for big name franchises including Pizza Hut and Chili’s.
After years of collecting money from acting and a short-lived baking business, she told her parents she wanted to open a self-serve bubble-tea shop, and they followed her lead.
“A lot of people find it hard to believe that an 11-year-old can run her own business,” said Olivia’s father, Joseph Huynh. “She has all of our support. As her parents, we’re going to make sure she can accomplish anything she wants to do. She inspires me all the time.”
Olivia wanted her boba shop to be different by giving her customers the opportunity to sample before they buy.
The outer space themed shop opened in the fall of 2022. It offers tea lovers the option to taste test and customize their drinks with 10 milk tea and two fruit tea flavors, along with the 28 different toppings including freshly made boba. Customers can also enjoy traditional, Japanese style chicken katsu.
“I really like space,” said Olivia. “It’s very extraordinary, just like this shop. We’re supposed to be inside a spaceship.”
The entrance to the shop’s restroom is decorated with bright neon colored planets that glow under the black light.
“We call this outer space,” said Olivia, very excited to show off the mural her mom hand-painted.
For repeat customers like Fort Worth resident Cyriniti Craig, getting to sample the product makes the experience out of this world.
“I love that she allows us to taste-test,” said Craig. “I actually had a bad interaction with that before, I got a boba drink and it wasn’t the best taste, but the shop I went to wouldn’t let me trade it out. It’s good that here at Rocketbelly, you can actually taste what you’re getting beforehand.”
Olivia and her parents have big plans for the boba shop. They’d like to open different locations across North Texas.
As for her acting career, Oliva said she’s shooting for the stars.
“Olivia is very optimistic,” said her mother. “The word ‘no’ is not in her vocabulary. I truly believe she’ll accomplish anything she focuses on, and we’ll be there to support her.”
Olivia believes with the support from her family, she’ll someday be in blockbuster movies.
When I asked if she has advice for anyone wanting to follow their dreams, she directed me to her favorite quote, a Latin saying displayed on the wall of her restaurant.
“Per aspera ad astra,” chanted Olivia gleefully. “It means, through hardship to the stars. If you fall down and fail, you get back up again. Don’t stop what you want to do.”
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