I’m a middle child with two brothers. My widowed grandmother sponsored my family to the United States which is how my family immigrated to New York City. Like most Asian families, my mother really set the standards for our upbringing with my father putting a firm foot on things to keep us in line. I was quite studious until I went to college where I was really exposed to other creatives that didn’t put as much value in being studious than living and creating.
I feel very fortunate to have been raised in NYC with all the enriching experiences I’ve had. The people I have met and the friends I have made, have opened up my views to a multicultural acceptability and tolerance to people’s differences. I have been exposed to the arts in different mediums from photography, fashion, dance, architecture, live music, and theater. I would say that growing up in NYC has given me an appreciation for traveling to remote places beyond seeing other cities in the world.
My first job in fashion was from an internship from F.I.T. I was hired after my internship ended. This was the first job I had in an industry that I did not think I would be part of growing up with parents who are a part of the industry. I am very glad that my mom had taught me how to sew from a very early age because it has helped me immensely throughout my career. The difference of working in design and development when I know how to sew a garment makes me understand what is possible and what isn’t instead of relying on others to tell me what I can design. It was also a company that made me realize if I really want to be in fashion, I need to work with smaller brands to hone my skills.
When I got paid for the first time I was elated because I was finally getting paid for the work I had done in my internship. During my internship, I had learned a lot because I was always the person who would say yes and figure things out. I was happy that I had a job right out of school with a company I liked while most of my classmates were looking for jobs.
I began my career in the fashion industry by working in design and production for brands like Tracy Reese, rag & bone, and Protagonist. In between these positions, I worked as a consultant for about 25 fashion brands and houses. After 25 years of experience, I felt like I gained enough knowledge and connections within the industry, so I launched my own brand. I wanted to offer women a solution for that ‘nothing to wear’ feeling. I did so by a creating season-less, capsule collection with easy-to-style, elevated essentials. I always aim to design and craft garments that are easy to style and wear with an elevated aesthetic.
The styles are made from mills who produce high quality fabrication, like our grade A cashmere yarn sweaters. The styles we design in our atelier always consider how women will wear these clothes. Typically, women have a closetful of fashion trends or impulse purchases that gives them too many options to create outfits that look put together and stylish. There is a uniform minimalism to the styles that makes looking polished and timeless a simple task. Our Stealth Dress in Collection One has a built-in spandex lining that shapes to the woman’s figure to give her full confidence with one simple garment. In the latest collection, the Dunaway Blouse is a sheer, cotton voile top with an attached lace camisole underneath for effortless femininity. With the busy lifestyle of today’s modern woman who is balancing work, home and social obligations, having a closetful of too many options becomes a daunting task when getting dressed. I want to promote investing in wardrobe curation with thoughtful purchases that reflect a personal style and shows how we live in the clothes we wear. With each collection, I carefully reflect ones self-care and how we can present the best version of ourselves. These styles are the foundation for women to put their own personal style on by accessorizing or matching with the ‘it’ purchases.
I don’t remember a time when I have not been saving or had a bank account. It is something my parents had started for my brothers and me at a very early age. Every Chinese New Year, we had to give over all our lucky money to them to put into each of our savings accounts. My parents would make it a contest for us to see who can hand over the most. I think that’s why I know more family members and my parent’s friends than my brothers combined. I was in it to win it. When I started my first job in fashion, I would always put about half of my earnings from my checking into a CD account so I cannot pull the money out without being penalized for it. My overall cost of living was minimal living with my grandmother. I would spend most of my money on traveling and socializing with friends.
I have always saved with three goals in mind. The first is retirement which I had started an IRA account since my first job in fashion. The second is a rainy day which was something my mom had instilled in me from as far back as I can remember. Lastly, it is for big purchases. I had saved enough to buy an investment property. I sold the investment property to start this business. The way I see money is to have it aide me to live a lifestyle where I can do the things I am passionate about. This is the fashion brand I have launched.
I’m a firm believer of living within your means. It means assessing your total living expenses monthly against your monthly income. Save with an amount and goal in mind because it will incentivize you. Plan out your social activities because tickets and alcohol can be pricey if you don’t. You can put daily spending caps on your cards if you are a habitual user. Plan your purchases so they don’t become wasteful splurges.
Smart spending is creating an allowance for yourself to make sure you are spending within your means. In the day and age of credit cards and payment apps, it is very easy to lose track of your spending because there is a disconnect to what your expenditures are compared to the funds you have. By putting a dollar amount to your allowances, you will be more conscientious what the value of your purchases and your spending habits. Sometimes something on sale is of value if you need it instead of just wanting it. Other times spending more on a quality product that will last will have more value when you think of the cost per use.
I do comparison buying. I weigh the price with quality to see if the higher price will yield me something that is better made and last me longer. Sometimes, a high price tag comes with a better design. In the end, does the price justify the cost per use or overall experience? If yes, then it is a smart spend. I don’t think a hefty price tag is always the best nor do I think paying less always mean you’re getting a good deal.
I don’t like using apps when it comes to budgeting. I like to do the math the old fashion way to see what I am spending and where so I am not disconnected from budgeting myself. I use a spreadsheet to analyze my expenditures against my funds. I find when I look at the receipts and bills, I will be more conservative about my spending because I do set an allowance for my spending.