In high school, I really wanted to study something related to fashion. There were only a couple schools with art related majors in Taipei, but I couldn't get in because my scores were not high. After high school, my dad took me to Malaysia and I decided to stay and attend a fashion school because I would learn what I want to learn instead of ending up studying something I didn’t like back in Taiwan. After studying fashion there, I also studied in England, and then came back to Taiwan. Coming back from being abroad, I had great hopes for myself and felt like I was a little different from others.
I worked for a company that had a unique set up, with a big table to draw patterns on in the middle of the store. Even though I was a designer, I would encounter customers while they were shopping. They would see us designing right there and could talk to us and tell us what they like. When people tell me what they like or want and I can make a better design for them, it's exciting. I think interactions between people are interesting because they're not dead. It's not like you just draw a piece of clothing. You receive feedback from the other person and it becomes alive.
After I started working, there were some challenges that were very different from being a student. I realized being a designer in Taiwan is pretty tiring. The street fashion factories and industries are mostly in China, and Taiwan doesn’t have really good factories to help young designers. The market is also small. Many brands want to keep making what they want to make, but they don’t have anywhere to sell their products.
I’ve met a lot of designers that make really good things, but they didn’t realistically sell. I think that’s a pity because it's like they are being drowned out by society. It’s also hard for people to expand internationally, so people are kind of stuck and not moving forward. I like designing. I like beautiful things and I like people buying my things and feeling happy. But, I think this industry will only continue with the help of other people. That's one of the reasons I joined my company.
Since clothing prices are higher here and can't compete with China, if products don't sell, then designers lose faith and wonder if there’s something wrong with their products. Some of the designs don’t sell as well here, but maybe in other countries they would sell better. You never know the market’s reaction. We want Taiwan to be seen internationally as a place with capable, talented people. We started bringing together designers to an online platform.
My partner in my company also told me about 3D modeling and fitting and how he thought it was cool and should be shared with others. On our site, you can put your measurements while you shop and see how the clothes will fit, so you save the time and hassle of returning things that don’t fit. We really think even though some people might not have the best body, everyone can still be fashionable.
It’s not exactly related to my job, but there is something I think I will like forever, and that is my sewing machine. Every time I go back home to Taichung, I want to use it. Whether it’s hemming my mom’s pants or whatever, I’m happy. I think the most interesting thing about this machine is that you can do something with it that makes people around you happy. It’s not about making money, but I can even use leftover fabric and make bags to give people as gifts. It’s not just a machine to me; it is like a storybook that can write a really great story to make someone happy. It has life.