There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. – Nelson Mandela
Feeling settled means a lot of different things to many people.
Some classify marriage as the ultimate form of settling down while others think buying their first home or having children is a sure indication they’ve established a life for themselves.
While I’ll love to marry, own a property and have babies one day, my idea of settling down is to build a life doing things I love.
One of the very few things I love dearly is fashion. If you don’t know why I love it, you might want to read all about it here.
I’ve always enjoyed dressing up in high school – I even told my mother buying dresses were an “investment” – but it wasn’t till I was in college when I discovered a whole world of designers, fabric, fashion shows, buying, visual merchandising, editorial shoots, trade shows, and a whole lot more. I was fascinated by this new realm, so while many college students traveled during their summer holidays, I knew I wanted to try to get my foot into this world.
I applied for internships, and after being rejected by a couple, I finally got my start as a beauty intern in CLEO magazine. Sure, it wasn’t what I’d hoped since I wanted to be in the fashion department, but I couldn’t have asked for a better beginning. My beauty editor Stephanie (a huge shout out to one of the nicest and most caring editors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with) trusted me with everything: from interviewing celebrities, deciding and writing my own front of the book pieces, pulling clothes for photo shoots to organizing the beauty closet. I became incredibly busy, but I was already hooked.
I returned to Syracuse and craved for more experiences. My roommate, Allie, encouraged me to apply for the associate fashion editor position for Zipped, Syracuse University’s only fashion publication. I was nervous (because I applied the previous semester and was rejected) but I tried anyway. It didn’t hit me I had successfully secured the position until I started pulling clothes for the women’s fashion spread. I remember being in a thrift store pulling these vintage sweaters for our fall shoot when I thought, “I know nothing is forever, but my love for fashion is for eternity.”
I completed my undergraduate classes in Dec 2011 but had another semester before my commencement, which gave me three options: a) to return to Malaysia and skip my ceremony, b) to take up more classes in Syracuse, c) to intern. I said I’d try the third option, but if I wasn’t offered one, I’d return to Malaysia to see my parents. Applying for fashion internships is a nerve wrecking process considering the industry was (and is still) so competitive. I applied EVERYWHERE – from big guns like Vogue and W to boutique fashion PR firms.
A week after classes ended, I packed my bags and moved to New York. I was ready for my adventure as an intern with Zang Toi, a Malaysian fashion designer based in Manhattan. And what an adventure it was – on my first day, I was assigned to pick up diamond earrings and send them to his home where the team was preparing for a fashion shoot. I tucked the jewelry in my bag, and hugged my purse as tight as I could, and rushed to his place – only to discover the shoot was over. The next five months were spent figuring out how the subway worked, visiting fabric stores and taking inspiration trips, working behind the scenes in all his fashion shows, and immersing myself in a world I’ve always dreamed of being a part of. I not only fell head over heels in love with fashion, but with the Big Apple too. I stayed in the crappiest and smallest apartment in New York, but it was the happiest six months of my life and I didn’t want to leave.
But like all good stuff that comes to an end, I said goodbye to the love of my life and vowed to return. After a year juggling my full time job in Malaysia and writing for a US-based fashion website, I received my acceptance letter to Fashion Institute of Technology. Making the decision to leave the stable life I’d built in KL and go to school was probably the hardest I had to make – was I willing to give my job, my financial independence, and my relationships up in Malaysia to study fashion abroad?
I resigned, told my boyfriend he didn’t have to wait for me if he didn’t want to, and left.
Living in New York with as little money as possible proved to be challenging. But once I was in school, I forgot I had beg bugs in the apartment. I forgot I could only afford to window shop. I forgot my family and friends were a million miles away. I was so absorbed by all the fashion that surrounded me. So I, once again, applied to a million internships and was overjoyed when I had the opportunity to work for Stella McCartney.
During that time, I trekked to the office in -27C weather and worked 12-13 hours a day including weekends. When I was finally home, I couldn’t even muster the energy to have a meal or call home. Some called me crazy, but this was something I chose to do. Till this day, I’m glad I went through it. The industry may be cutthroat but I’ll fight for what I love.
After I graduated, I made the painful decision to return home after a year because I didn’t want to depend on my parents for financial support anymore. Coming home, this time round, I was determined to settle down.
While my peers were getting married and starting a family, all I thought of was my own definition of settling down.
I began job hunting but all the jobs I applied to didn’t sit right with me. I felt there was a vital aspect missing but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was.
My prayers were finally answered when a close friend introduced me to a woman who just created her own fashion start up. I had been feeling so uninspired after being in Malaysia, but after one conversation, I knew it was the job for me.
I initially was concerned about taking a pay cut – after all, living in KL isn’t cheap – but this job isn’t just a job. It’s more than just a career.
It allows me to surround myself with the things I love. It excites me, keep me on my toes, and reminds me that life is an adventure. It will hopefully make me feel like I’ve settled down for good.
So, to all my blog readers, friends and family, I’m embarking on a new journey with my friend at a new start up called Rent A Dress. The concept is easy – we are an online portal bringing designer dresses, which you can rent for only a fraction of the price. Below are some of my personal thoughts on Rent A Dress:
Why rent? Why wear designer? Why choose Rent A Dress?
- We are making style accessible to others. We love fashion, and we want everyone to share that love with us. We want to jazz up your regular nights out and we want your special occasions to be even more memorable. If you don’t have the funds or if you have the funds but won’t wear the same dress twice, Rent A Dress offers quality dresses for a small fee. All you have to do is go on our website, browse our selection, pick the dress you want, and check out. We’ll deliver the dress to you and you’ll return it after you wear it. You don’t even have to wash the dress or send it to the cleaners!
- When I refer to designer dresses, I’m not just talking Chanel, Fendi, Prada etc. Part of our vision is to educate people on the different designers you may not have heard of. There are loads of designers who spend a lot of time and money searching for the right fabric, designing and making the right dress for your big night. When you wear these dresses, you automatically feel the difference in fabric, cut and fit. We promote designers who are as passionate about providing the best quality for their ladies. Rent A Dress only offers dresses we would personally wear ourselves.
- I joined Rent A Dress with Shuen (the founder and a superwoman) because we shared the same values. Yes, Rent A Dress is a business, but we treat it more than just a business. We value quality above everything else. Coming from a fashion background, I understand the techniques and processes of making a garment so I can see why designers charge the way they do. I understand most of us (myself included) may not be able to afford those dresses so Rent A Dress is a platform for us to invite you to share that opportunity of dressing up with us. Fashion is all about making you feel your best, and we want to achieve that feeling for you. Every girl, no matter the circumstances, deserves to look and feel her best on any night she pleases.
I would be tremendously grateful for all the support, and if you’re loyal readers of the blog, you’re going to love that I’ll be documenting my journey as well as announcing special promotions and discounts for Rent A Dress on my blog.
And to my mother, see! Buying dresses can be an investment, after all.
Thank you everyone, and loads of love XXX