Happy Easter Monday everyone!
Today I’m excited to introduce you to an amazing Beijing-based designer and friend of mine, Currie Lee. A South-Korean Canadian, Currie is a New York licensed attorney-at-law ~ turned ~ bag designer. Take one look at her designs and you’ll realize just how talented this ex-lawyer is! Plus she is one of the sweetest people you could meet. Giving up a steady, relatively high-earning job to follow her passion for fashion and design, Currie is a great example of what can be achieved when you follow your heart and do what you love – after just a few short years, her label is already enjoying huge success in China!
We met in Beijing almost three years ago, when her label - D-SATA by CuR - was just starting to make a splash, and it’s been impressive to watch her business grow. I hope you will enjoy her story as much as I did :)
So Currie, tell us a little about yourself – what was your upbringing, and how did you go from law to fashion?
Perhaps because my parents were both academics who studied abroad and returned to South Korea, they wanted me to be a professor or, at least, a lawyer or politician, as most of our other family members. As a dutiful daughter however, I became a New York licensed lawyer. But I have always LOVED fashion, and in the end it was my husband who encouraged me to pursue my dream of becoming a fashion designer!
Tell us about D-SATA and what inspires your designs.
My passion for fashion began with me naughtily cutting-up my mother’s couture pieces (!) to recreate fashion week with my Barbie dolls! My grandmum and mum also used to dress me up in skirts and jackets from their “up-cycled” vintage tweed, boucle, chenille and houndstooth Chanel suits – which started my love for vintage and black & white!
My label DimSum of All Things Asian (or ‘D-SATA’) by CuR was borne from my love of vintage and all things Asian, and my belief in ‘waste not, want not’. I seek to embody a sense of vintage style – exquisite yet discreet - into my contemporary pieces that are recognizable not by their logos but their designs and materials. Each collection also expands on D-SATA’s concept of sustainable fashion, using materials that are not only timeless in tradition and trends, but also ethically and environmentally conscious. My pieces are hand-crafted using natural or recycled materials in Southeast Asian ‘cottage industries’ by women who earn a ‘living income’ (as opposed to minimum wage).
What are your ambitions for the brand and where do you hope to be in 5-10 years time?
I actually am media-shy despite the magazine and TV interviews I have done! Although I take my brand seriously, I retired from the legal profession simply to pursue something I love to do which is design accessories and bags, so I have not yet thought of where I or my brand will be in 5-10 years. I do not engage in advertisements or marketing (unless sponsoring a charity or gala event) but perhaps this might change as D-SATA develops… only time can tell!
How would you describe your personal style?
Retro-vintage or classic-chic. With clothing I do have a weakness for haute couture or luxe brands as I tend to purchase few items that are timeless classics, and usually in neutral colors (each purchase is with the intent to wear it literally forever!). With accessories and bags I love anything ‘fun, fearless and fabulous’, although I am a little obsessive about the quality of the materials and craftsmanship of each piece. I also love using colorful accessories and bags to add a dash of color to my otherwise neutral wardrobe.
Who are your style icons, or which brands do you look to for inspiration?
Definitely Grace Kelly – poised and timeless!
Where do you shop in China – do you have any favourite places/tips to share?
Unfortunately, I don’t shop in China as much of the collections are either overpriced or outdated. My bestie has an e-commerce site Luxbible, which is the only place that I have made purchases from over the past few years in China.
So when you’re not designing or taking part in some fabulous fashion event, how do you like to spend your spare time?
Traveling! I am an impulsive and irresponsible traveller – I tend to make hotel reservations and book my flights the night before… oops! Haha.
A big thanks to Currie for sharing her story with us – I love how passionate she is for using sustainable materials, and how she finds a way to produce her pieces that helps women improve their lives by earning a decent wage. How inspiring!
I hope you guys enjoyed the interview, and stay tuned for another post tomorrow!