• Johnny Dang is a famous jeweler in America, best known for his unique and high quality grills.
• He was born in Vietnam before the Vietnam War and moved to the US with his family in 1996.
• He started his business with help from his friends and soon met his future business partner, rapper Paul Wall.
• He has a $4.5 million flagship in Houston and a net worth of $20 million.
• He was recently featured in a five episode documentary series called “House of Dang”.
Who is Johnny Dang?
Johnny Dang, aka TV Johnny or ‘King of the Bling’, is the most famous jeweler in America, best known for his unique and high quality grills. Every rapper and hip hop artist is familiar with his craft, and he served as the inspiration for the song “Grillz” by Nelly ft. Paul Wall, Ali & Gipp. For a lot of artists, getting a custom grill or other piece of jewelry from Johnny Dang is proof that they’ve ‘made it big’, but how did an immigrant from Vietnam go on to represent the hip hop bling scene?
Thanh Dang was born on 21 November 1974, in the Dak Lak Province of Vietnam, right before the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Growing up in post war Vietnam was extremely difficult for Johnny for a number of reasons – his father was a soldier who fought on the side of South Vietnam, and after the war ended, he was imprisoned for an indefinite period. He escaped from jail after serving more than ten years, in an effort to start a new life in the US for himself and eventually his family. It took over two weeks and almost dying from hunger for him to finally reach the American coast. Unfortunately, it would then take almost another 10 years before he managed to get his family out of Vietnam.
Johnny grew up with five siblings in a small village with no electricity, in a house made from mud; the key to survival was being there for each other as a community. In their village, where everyone was just barely scraping by, it was important to keep your friends close and help one another. This sort of mentality would later prove crucial in the US, when he needed help starting his own business. His grandfather and father were jewelers, which is how Johnny got to learn the trade.
In 1996, Johnny and his family finally made it to the US, more specifically, Houston, Texas where they reunited with Johnny’s father. They lived in a house with two other families so there was barely enough room for all of them – the Dang family only had one bedroom to share between all of them, so Johnny and his brothers Kevin and Jimmy had to sleep on the floor. The rent was only around $250, and considering their life in Vietnam, cramming together in a warm house was a small price to pay if it meant that Johnny and his siblings could have a shot at a normal life. Since they could hardly speak basic English, they enrolled into a community college where they could study the language, and get to know more about the business world in the States.
In the beginning, Johnny worked for a Chinese couple at their jewelry repair shop on weekdays, and on weekends he went to his stand at the flea market. He didn’t get paid in cash for his work throughout the week, but instead in gold, which he would then use for his own business. Even though Johnny was familiar with the jewelry repair business, he was far from being a professional. His cousin was the one who mentored him at his first job, for which he was paid $500 in six months. To Johnny it was unbelievable that someone would not only teach him how to work but also give him a salary for it; in Vietnam, people had to pay for a mentor. This was his first glimpse of the famous “American Dream”.
After six months he found another job for which he was paid $35 a day. One of the reasons Johnny became popular was because while everyone only made solid gold grills, he started using diamonds. He had to take out loans since diamonds were expensive, but he did so in a deliberate and cunning manner. He gathered his friends and together they would take out smaller loans each month so that they would keep the interest rates low. This allowed them to pay back the loans little by little until their business eventually boomed. Johnny bought 5 or 10 carat diamonds from brokers as opposed to now, when he buys them directly from manufacturers in Israel and India, cutting out the middle man.
Around ‘98, ‘99 Johnny expanded his business, from making his grills in a 300 sq. feet garage, to start hiring more employees and needing more room, so he rented a space in Sharpstown Mall and a workshop. It was at this time that he met his future business partner, rapper Paul Wall. Paul was impressed by Johnny’s technique in making grillz that didn’t require the filling of teeth, and two years after they met they started working together.
Teaming up with Paul was a very smart move on Johnny’s part. Before they met, Johnny had trouble communicating with customers, and he would often get into fights with them due to miscommunication. Having Paul around was extremely helpful, because while most of his customers couldn’t understand his broken English at all, Paul had no problem getting the message across. He also introduced Johnny to a lot of celebrities who would then spread the word about TV Johnny’s premium grills. The first major figure Johnny did a grill for was rapper Master P. Soon, after which Slim Thug also wanted a pair of grills, then Mike Jones, and from then it just snowballed into the massively successful business it is today, making grill after grill for celebrities such as Kanye West, Snoop Dog, Post Malone, Beyoncé, and many more. Even Jeff Goldblum was seen sporting a pair of TV Johnny’s original grills.
In 2016, Johnny built a flagship at a new location. A $4.5 million, 14 000 sq. feet building on 6224 Richmond Avenue, near the Galleria. He also changed his brand, from TV Repairs to Johnny Dang & Co. Fine Jewelry – his father had come up with TV Repairs back when they had a single table to their business, but the acronym TV actually comes from ‘Thuan Vietnam’ not ‘television’. When Johnny expanded his business again, he figured he needed a more professional name that wouldn’t make customers believe that he repairs TVs.; this is how Johnny Dang & Co. was born.
Personal life and Appearance
Johnny Dang is married to Jennifer Vu, co-founder of Fashcino Jewelry. Jennifer created Fashcino with her sister Swan Vu, as an extension to Johnny Dang & Co., and it includes pre-designed products as well as fully customized items.
Most of the time, they make an effort to keep their kids out of the spotlight, but Johnny has said that they’re highly interested in the family business and that they frequently use their summer vacations to learn how to produce and fix jewelry. His daughter is enrolled in business courses to better equip her with the knowledge necessary to manage a business.
Back in 2020, Johnny did a five episode documentary series for VICE on YouTube called “House of Dang”, sharing some of his history, and showing the world what a day in his life looks like. After the series ended, Johnny was asked to do a reality show about his life, but he declined, saying that good reality shows need to have some sort of drama and conflict, which is why he didn’t want his kids to take part in something like that.
Johnny Dang stands at around 5ft 5ins (1.65m)tall, and weighs around 150lbs (68kgs). He has black eyes and short black hair.
With a single set of grills being worth up to $250.000, you could say that Johnny Dang is quite well off. It’s believed that his annual income exceeds $2 million, and his estimated net worth around $20 million.
From living in a house made of mud to owning a $4.5 million store in Houston, and even buying a gold-plated car just for the kicks, Johnny Dang is a clear representation of what the ‘American Dream’ stands for. He invests in cryptocurrency, but with little luck. After the value of their mutually held crypto dropped, Johnny ended up breaking his business relationship with his friend and Vietnamese YouTuber Khoa Pug back in 2021. Johnny