Wudaokou Watch: "I Feel Privileged and Fortunate to be a Designer in Beijing"
I was born in Toronto, Canada.
I came to Beijing because I was working as a casual nurse in Canada but were no full-time jobs. I fell in love with fashion design and since then I have gained success all over china with my label ZamZam, which launched at Mercedes-Benz fall fashion week. My inspiration comes from science and technology, which is what I studied at the University of Toronto. I dreamt of being a scientist or a marine biologist, but somehow I ended up in fashion. Design is one of the most powerful forces in our lives.
I feel very privileged and fortunate to live in Beijing. Beijing is very convenient and efficient but also recognizes creative, hardworking talents. I’m am truly happy and blessed to be happy in Beijing. China is my home and I can truly say it feels like it’s my first home. The Chinese population has opened their hearts to me and I would not be where I am today without their help.
The biggest challenges I have faced here were mostly people not understanding me. I don’t believe that anyone is perfect; we are human and we do make mistakes. I hope that China can see that in me and see that I have good intentions. I truly believe that everyone is evolving and that no one is perfect, and that we can do our best to become the best version of ourselves. I am proud to say that I have learned to never judge a person and never intentionally make anyone upset or hurt their feelings. I believe everyone is beautiful in the skin they live in no matter what race, size, height, age, gender or ethnic background they have. I am not better than anyone nor less than anyone I feel equal to everyone I see in my circle of life.
My favorite hangout is with my children at school. I love being around children because children see me as me and never need to use words to judge me. I think children make me ready to inspire and make a difference, which is one of the most rewarding aspects of my career. I have traveled to many places around the world and one of the things I respect most about China is how the Chinese respect their elderly parents and their children so much.
When I'm feeling homesick, I make sketches and create ideas in my head to challenge my worries and my stress. Drawing and creating things keeps me motivated and gives me the confidence to create new looks. I’m always looking for ways to include different cultural attributes in my image. I feel that constantly changing my image keeps me at peace.
What I love most about Beijing are the aunties that dance at night in front of major shopping malls. I feel there is a powerful energy when they dance in synchronized ways and keep adding to their dancing team from the people who turn out to watch them. This is definitely something you wouldn't see in Canada.
My most memorable experience was the first fashion show I attended in 798 District. I had never seen a fashion show in my entire life and I felt been so privileged to see one. In a way, China gives you more opportunities to experience things that you couldn't in other countries unless you were rich or powerful. I was just a simple, low-income teacher at the time. It was a dream come true and the most memorable moment of my life!
My life in Beijing has been so busy that is it sometimes hard for me to keep up but I keep holding strong and I always tell myself to work hard and never give up, and the rewards will follow in the future.
I think that you should always believe in yourself, be happy, and know your purpose. Don't worry about what the world is saying about you, just be happy and focus on your own issues, because people care about people who care about themselves. Some may seek to destroy and discredit you but they will only make you stronger. Have courage and be kind to all no matter how people treat you.
Photos courtesy of ZamZam