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Yue Zhang

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Yoyo Zhang, co-owner of Aqua View, at 20 Crafts Avenue in Northampton Thursday.
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Yoyo Zhang, co-owner of Aqua View, at 20 Crafts Avenue in Northampton Thursday.

Job title and company: Owner of Aqua View Design, a tropical fish store at 20 Crafts Ave., Northampton

Age: 24

Your duties: Retail sales and operations, caring for the fish and other stock.

How did you land your job? I became interested in aquariums and fish as a hobby and decided I wanted to make that my career.

What’s most challenging about your work? To reach more customers. I started with a limited budget and I spend most on my aquarium displays and products, so there’s almost no funds available for marketing. Thanks to my current customers — they love my store and bring me new customers.

What do you like about your job? Keeping an aquarium is not just about keeping fish alive. It’s about how to create an environment that will optimize the health and beauty of the creatures that live in this environment, which may include fish, invertebrates, plants, etc. It’s almost like the attitude I bring to my own life and work. Besides that, an aquarium is a great thing to own: It makes you feel comfortable and can be soothing for a home or a workplace. Asian people also believe that an aquarium may bring you luck and good fortune.

What is your key to success? Great customer service. As a small business, it’s very tough for us to survive against big chain stores. Our advantage is our professional knowledge and one-on-one customer service.

How do you feel the Valley economy will fare this year? There’s a lot of news out there about the economy recovering this year. I believe all of us will get better soon, as we all have confidence in the future.

Why did you choose to do business in the Valley? I went to school here for four years. This is a small town, unlike big cities with more opportunities. But Northampton and surrounding towns give me a strong feeling of belonging, I love the diversity here, and the blending of different culture and art. I want to stay here, and I want to do something that will add value to this Valley.

Who has helped mentor you professionally? Not many people, mostly friends who also have fish as a hobby.

Name a few of your goals for the coming year: Top one: Getting more and more people to know about Aqua View Design, Then, besides retail selling, we would like to establish an aquarium service section, which would include installing, internal designing and future maintenance of aquariums for residents and businesses. We’d love to work with some local nonprofit organizations like hospitals, schools, senior centers, etc. Aquariums work great in these places to relax people and for educational purposes.

Tell us a little-known fact about you: I immigrated from China at the beginning of 2006 when I was 17. I moved to Northampton at the end of 2006 and graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2011. I started my aquarium business in 2012 at 24. Moving to the United States was a great step for me; then starting a business is another one. I think life should always be moving forward. I want to do something that shows my value, and adds value to the world. I’ll keep working forward, and so will my business.

What is your advice for others seeking business success? There’s no advice yet; I haven’t been successful. But a good plan and being confident would be a great start.

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