What Does Being South Asian Mean to You?
I feel like I have embraced all my cultures and have been able to pick the best of them. My designs are inspired by natural forms and architecture from my upbringing in Hong Kong — my business acumen comes from being Indian, and that allows me to think practically about my work. Overall, it is a great balance of both being creative with the craftsmanship and also being able to sell creativity in a profitable way.
What Does It Mean to Have Style Right Now?
For me, style is all about what the brief requires. If I am walking into a Zoom business meeting, I want to dress smart and not be distracted from the conversation I am having. If I am going to brunch with my friends, I want to dress fun, something that will really put me in the mood, and I'll test out a few new looks. I am constantly changing my style because I love experimenting. My friends call me a chameleon because I love dressing based on the occasion we are going for or a place we are traveling to.
The Best Piece of Career Advice You've Gotten?
I have two, and both are from my South Asian parents: 1) What do you consider growth? Is it all of the fancy features that you just added to your product? A new office, new employees, and a glowing article you just were featured in a leading industry publication is all great, but it doesn't constitute growth. Growth means that you're building a product and adding customers. 2) Spend less than you earn. There is no point living check to check and not saving up for the rainy days. This probably applies now more than — COVID is a sheer example of an unforeseen circumstance and, luckily, we had saved up enough for my company to not let anyone go and stay afloat. We are being even more careful with our resources, especially this year. Saved resources allow us to give you a choice.
Something You Wish You Knew Before Starting Your Business?
Perhaps the biggest misconception about starting your own business is that you're only focusing on chasing your passion. I am not just going to be designing handmade jewelry 24/7. That may consume 15 percent of my time. Instead, I am spending a chunk of my time on developing business strategies and marketing campaigns, shooting and styling jewelry, selling and organizing shows, interacting with customers and manufacturers, and doing administrative tasks like looking over bookkeeping, invoicing, and payroll. In short, I am a business owner first and then a creator and designer of jewelry.
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