Marshall to Midnight: Alum opens cookie store

Just five years ago, 2012 Marshall alum Johnny Nguyen was sitting in his cubicle at Navy Federal. While his days were filled with staring at a screen, his nights were filled with — cookies?!

Inspired by his old late-night haunts at James Madison University, Nguyen would go on to open MidnighTreats in 2020 to bring late-night stores and cookies to NoVa. 

“I wasn’t a baker or anything, so it was a lot of trial and error,” Nguyen said. “I was recording all the recipes on a spreadsheet, and so with a tiny handheld mixer, we just made like 100, 200, variations. My kitchen was full of cookies, like constantly.”

Majoring in Computer Information Systems at JMU, Nguyen said his original career goal was just to make a lot of money, but since then, that has changed.

“You know the cliche, ‘if you love what you do, you’re not really working?’ It’s definitely true,” Nguyen said. “Ironically, I think you’ll make more money if you’re pursuing what you like in the end because you’re gonna work harder at it.”

For prospective business owners, Nguyen said the best thing to do is to make sure you are pursuing your passion, that you have a plan, and you seize the moment as the “perfect time” could never come.

“Don’t listen to people saying not to go for it because that was definitely like a barrier for me hearing family saying, “You have a stable job, don’t leave it,’” he said 

Even though he might not have noticed it at the time, Nguyen said his experiences at Marshall helped prepare him for his future business.

“I feel like I should have like paid attention more in school, same with college,” Nguyen said. “I see the value in it now. [School] at least it teaches you how to learn. The actual memorizing equations and all that hasn’t played into account, but learning how to learn has been helpful.”

Nguyen also said that you shouldn’t trap yourself in the mindset that you have to go to school, college, and get a nine-to-five.

He said, “If you feel like that’s not right for you, it’s probably not right for you.”