The new helmet! (FYI, the bike below is the husband’s not mine. I don’t know how to drive one. Yet.)
This is me, pre-haircut. This was taken just before I got married, so my hair was a little longer than this when I finally cut it.
Here I’m all made up wearing pjs–I just got home from a party last night and was in the middle of getting ready for bed and in my tired haze remembered y’all requesting photos. (That’s why my lipstick’s all gone.) It’s basically a blunt bob a little longer than chin-length, a little longer in the front than the back.
What do you think? I know, I know, the photo’s not too good. I’ll post a better one later.
-Chopped off 8″ of hair yesterday. Husband says he feels like he’s cheating on his wife because I look so different. I haven’t had hair so short in years. I got sick of the damaged ends. It’s actually too short for any of my faux pieces. Hrm. Shoulda thought of that beforehand.
-Looking forward to going to L.A. in a couple of weeks. I’ll be there April 13-18th. Gonna see my baby brother! We’re gonna go to the arcade and shoot stuff and ride fake motorcycles and eat hot dogs and discuss literature and politics. He’s kinda awesome. He’s such a typical 15 year old, but then he’ll surprise me–a couple of years ago, he read 1984 just because he “felt like it”. Oh! and gonna meet some cool blogosphere folks!
-Speaking of motorcycles, the husband finally ordered me a helmet so we can go on rides. It’s black, of course. Woohoo!
-Found out playing sudoku relaxes me, but not when the husband hovers over my shoulder randomly saying “3 over here”.
-Thinking it’s totally unfair if someone calls you to schedule a phone interview, forgets to call you, and then reschedules, and then calls you 2 hours to tell you the position has been filled. Bah. Don’t want to work for someone that disorganized anyway.
-Happy to hear California is banning plastic shopping bags. I’m sure my Environmental Sciences major sister will be even happier.
-Struggling over setting up a calendar for the next year. I’m a deadline-oriented person, and I vacillate on how much deadline padding I need for various things. And then I keep remembering more things to add to the calendar. Anyone know where I can purchase a big poster calendar so I can see the whole year in one glance?
-Cleaning and organizing. Trying to figure out a way to rearrange the furniture so I can make better use of my workspace. Peeping toms can generally find me randomly staring intently at my living room. Suspecting my kimono are breeding while unattended. Sorting and reviewing my library. Suspecting someone (with great taste, of course) is stealing from my books and mags stash.
-Smoking less lately.
-Realizing the more I read about up and coming designers, things would be way easier if I were a pretty gay man or at least a thin cute girl. I’m only half kidding. Okay, I’m mostly kidding. Okay, okay, that was an awful thing to say.
-Wishing I could have a frank conversation with someone where we could discuss my strengths and weakness in preparation for starting my own company. I’m feeling a bit ungrounded right now.
Hello darling VC readers,
Thank you so much for thinking of me, but no, I do not have any interest in being on Project Runway. First of all, the idea of me being on television horrifies me. Secondly, the idea of me being on television without eyebrows terrifies me. Third, to me personally, the cons outweigh the pros on being a PR alum.
That said, I don’t see why you shouldn’t audition if you want. I like watching the show–super fun. If you are interested, check out bravotv.com for more details. Casting starts in LA this coming weekend.
So. I come across something, obsess over it for a bit, then drop it. This week, it’s learning to bake a perfect red velvet cake from scratch. I’ve never baked anything from scratch. The husband, knowing my impulsiveness, wisely suggested we borrow a cake mixer from a friend rather than buy one. With my red couch, the red Netflix envelopes littering my desk, and the graves of imperfect (half)cakes, I don’t ever want to look at anything red ever again.
I’m talking to my darling M, and I’m hyped up on too much caffeine and I’m rambling and I tell her, “Yeah, it’s how I know I belong in fashion. It’s the only obsession I have that still holds strong after years and years. Twenty, to be exact.” Yes, there is a photo of me somewhere, rockin’ an awesome 80s homemade perm (my mother was a hairdresser when she lived in Korea), playing outside with a friend, clutching my mom’s old JCPenney’s catalog.
So, what have I been doing instead of blogging the fantastic tales of a brand-spankin’ new DE? Um, reading. A lot. Taking notes. Thinking thinking thinking. Stuff online about lean manufacturing, a real paper-and-ink book called Developing Products in Half the Time. It’s about as dense and dry as packed sawdust–we’ll see if I can glean anything useful from it. I mean, it came highly recommended, so I don’t see it as a waste of time, but let’s just say it’s not a light and fluffy breezethrough. Neither are my cakes. Okay, the last one was pretty good, but Test Subject Gabe says there’s an slight aftertaste. Sigh.
I’ve also been jobhunting for that perfect part-time admin job so I can have some income while I launch the beginnings of the Zoe Hong Empire. (Okay, totally kidding on that name. No need to confuse people into thinking my line will resemble costumes from a Gong Li period flick.) Honestly, I’d like to work somewhere where I can actually still contribute in a nonfashion way. Working at a real estate office would be rad. I have a big interest in real estate and we all know interested people make better employees.
So, I’m going to sign off now, since I’m just rambling nonsensically. Have a great weekend, kids!
These gorgeous silk jersey gowns are the work of my friend and colleague Jeanne, of The 615 Project. That red one is just *sick*, but I really covet the black one on top, since I never go sleeveless in public (women like me exist and we’re not all 65 years old!).
Photos are by new-to-the-Bay-Area photographer T. Shane Gilman and you can check out more of his work here.
Hit me like a ton of bricks last night. Head feeling like its stuck in a vice, pain beyond anything I’ve felt before, overwhelming nausea. The husband says it’s a migraine. I don’t know–never had one before. Feeling better but still not 100%, so taking a day (maybe 2, hopefully not) off from thinking/reading/research/writing/obsessing. Oy, my head.
Otherwise, I’ve been good. Making to-do lists, designing some concept pieces (not things that will necessarily go in the line, but pieces that help me visually define my customer), thinking lots, confirmed with various people that no, I have not lost my mind. Socializing as much as I can now since I’m predicting work-related social isolation later on.
Have any of y’all seen Seamless? (I used to work for two women from the South and “y’all” got stuck on my tongue.) Showing this movie to the husband is on my to-do list, so he can have some idea of what he might be living with in the nearish future. Also planning to show him Unzipped. They may not be exactly what it’s like to start your own business, but it’s closer than anything else out there and I feel I need to warn him. Heh.
I like books that make me feel stupid. The good kind of stupid, of course. Makes it worth the money. If I didn’t learn anything, it means the book didn’t cover enough information or go in deep enough, because if I know anything, I know I don’t know everything. Far from it.
Some of you have asked me what books I’ve ordered. Of course I refuse to review books until I’ve read them, so the book reviews will trickle in, but first of all, I’d like to make sure all VC readers who are in the industry have read Kathleen’s book. (If you haven’t bought a copy yet, go buy it directly from Kathleen here.) I’ve read it twice. I don’t really care if you’re a designer, a patternmaker, an accountant at an apparel manufacturing company, working for yourself or someone else–you need to read it. No, Kathleen didn’t pay me to write this. Kathleen asked me to start writing for F-I in May of last year and I wouldn’t have agreed to if I hadn’t already read the book and the blog and respected both.
I also just finished this book, The Fashion Designer Survival Guide: An Insider’s Look at Starting and Running Your Own Fashion Business, by Mary Gehlhar. Don’t buy the book only because Zac Posen wrote the forward. It’s just a half-page blip basically saying Mary is rad. I’ve met Mary; she is indeed rad. Incredibly professional in a sea of slackers and laggers.
If Kathleen is the head cheerleader, teaching, guiding, training, and cheering your way to success, Mary is the deadpan goth chick who makes a point of warning you of every single possible wrong thing that could happen. Honestly, if you can read the whole book, every word, and finish it still wanting to start your own business, you, at the very least, have the necessary passion. Ms. Gehlhar isn’t negative, she’s just very good at presenting a huge range of possibilities of what could go right or wrong in every stage of the business, from contracts, money, production, shows, sales, press, and more.
My opinion? Read Kathleen for an indepth look in how an apparel manufacturing company should operate. Read Gehlhar for an honest overview of how the industry operates for an apparel manufacturer.
By the way, I’m returning this book, Fine Embellishment Techniques: Classic Details for Today’s Clothing, because it’s too hobbyist for my purposes. Definitely check it out if you’re into making one-offs for yourself or custom clothing clients.
Why do you read this blog? To get information, right? To get answers to your questions? To see if I have any information that will help you get a job/launch your company/be better at XYZ thing?
Let me just make this clear: I do not make my living off blogging, not here and not at Fashion-Incubator. I make my living as a designer and illustrator and my blogging is a culmination of my wanting to help people, meet other industry folks, display my work, rant to people who have shared the experience and can empathize, and engage myself and others in interesting conversations. I’m not going insult you by trying to lie and tell you that all my motives are completely altruistic. Even people who donate millions of dollars to charities do it for the resulting tax break and the warm fuzzy feeling of do-good-ing. I gain a lot of benefits too–the top one being some of the amazing people I’ve met that I never would have otherwise.
So what’s my point? My point is that sharing my experience with you is not my job. I’m not obligated to do it. But under the right circumstances, I enjoy it immensely.
One of my favorite things to do is have coffee with a colleague and have some great conversation. Yesterday was awesome–three hours, great fellow designer, some snark Oscar fashion talk, some industry griping, some troubleshooting and offering advice (both ways), some good coffee, and plans to carpool to the LA Textile Show together next month.
So approach me–I do want to get to know you. And if I can, I want to help you too, but trust me, everyone has boundaries and expectations of professional behavior. You can only win by being respectful–in all things.
Your first email needs to be professional. After we’ve established a relationship, sure, bypass that final grammar check, but I’m not the only who won’t take you seriously if you email me like ur on im omg can u help me???? how cum no 1 will hire me??? No way in a million years will I refer you to any of my industry contacts. r u kidding me???? Go buy a vowel and a clue.
You are in no position to be demanding. Would you ever approach a fabric guy and say, “Ok, tell me everything I need to know about all your fabrics. No, I’m not going to buy any, I’m just trying to pry all the information out of you to start my own business.” Count the milliseconds before the fabric guy would toss you out the front door. Email me on my recommendations on books and let’s have a conversation–tell me what you have, what you like, what you don’t like, and be specific. “I’m trying to learn more about dyeing silks, and book X didn’t give me what I was looking for. What would you recommend?” Do not ask me to regurgitate all the information I have from having read all those books. Book reports are for lit majors.
Check your sense of entitlement at the door. Beggars can’t be choosers. You are not entitled to me sitting for five hours typing out all the knowledge I have in my head, especially if you ask me to “do it really soon cuz i’m totally on a deadline”. Yes, this really happened to me! All this is from actual experience! If you’re not turned off by this behavior, I don’t want to know you. You know what I don’t understand? How being polite and professional became old-fashioned. There’s a line between bold and rude–don’t cross it.
Note: Just because I respond to you with a link from a older blog post of mine does not mean I’m brushing you off. It ONLY means I’ve already written about it and I’m directing you to information I don’t want to retype.
Yes, I’ll probably come across as a crankypants in this post, but I don’t care. If you think this post is nasty, you’re in the wrong business. I write this with your best interest in mind. You want to succeed as a designer? An entrepeneur? You absolutely need to be polite and professional, especially when soliciting free help. You’d be amazed at the doors you can open for yourself just learning to introduce yourself properly. First of all, I’ll be more inclined to give you a more in-depth answer to your questions and I’m easier (in that regard) than a lot of industry professionals I know.
All sorts of interesting job openings have been emailed my way the past 3 days, including one fairly tempting ad for a design director with 5+ years experience (that’s me!). Five interesting job leads in 3 days while I couldn’t find any for 3 months! Fuck! Excuse me.
Whatever. Moving on.
To do list: order some books, plan trip to the L.A. International Textile Show next month, call Kathleen and ask her if I’ve lost my mind, clean workspace, find regular part time job.
Have I mentioned I love my husband? Starting tomorrow, y’all can start emailing me at zoe at zoehong dot com!
As some of you may know, I’ve not been myself lately. Being unemployed doesn’t sit well with me. I’ve looked and looked (and looked and looked) for a design job, but SF is just not offering anything in that realm. It would be a different story if I sent out a million resumes and got rejected everywhere, but I can count the number of resumes I’ve sent out on one hand–there just aren’t any jobs, period. Also, I am a people person–as much as they annoy me sometimes, spending long days alone does not agree with me. The husband doesn’t come home until 8pm, so the majority of my day is spent alone, and lately, banging my head against the wall. Feelings of worthlessness and loneliness do not a happy VC make. So things came to a boil on Friday and this is what I came up with:
First of all, I had 5 options:
1. Keep looking for design work. Keep banging head against wall.
2. Become a housewife. Strangle self with apron strings after shoving husband in oven. He’s skinny–he’ll fit.
3. Assaf suggested we move to L.A. More jobs for me, close enough for him to telecommute easily with his office in Redwood City. I had to kindly remind him I hated living in L.A.
4. I suggested we move to New York. Lots of career opportunities. I watch Assaf struggle with his desire to be a good husband try to stop his lips from screaming “BAD IDEA!” My friend J has no qualms about saying that he hates that idea. Another friend scrunched up his face in that not cute way. Truth be told, I didn’t really want to move to New York anyway.
5. Stay in San Francisco, start my own company. Right. Because I have so much start up capital sitting in the bank right now.
So option #5 it is.
I’m starting my own company!
Like, right now. Are you as excited as I am? Probably more, because you don’t have the underlying terror that is preventing you from bouncing around the house like a chinky eyed version of a Mexican jumping bean. Or something.
I’ll be getting a part time “regular” job, and spending the rest of time plotting the beginnings of my future empire. Heh. Wish me luck.