I was raised in a traditional Chinese family and I remember the pressures and expectations put on me to follow a certain path.
Today, there are Asian men and women breaking out of that mold and excelling in so many different fields.
Tonight, I introduce you to one young budding designer putting her unique mark on the fashion industry.
“I felt like in Hong Kong, I couldn’t express my artistic self,” Katherine Kung said.
Life in china seems like a world away for Katherine Kung.
“We are a very classic Chinese family," she explained. "We have to be good to each other and get straight As at school.”
At a very young age, she realized her passions and skills didn’t align with tradition.
"[In} 2nd grade I took my mother’s kitchen towel, cut it up, and made a dress for my barbie dolls, but I didn’t know how to sew so I had to confess to my mom,” she smiled.
Fashion flowed through her veins so did a worry about breaking the mold. One her family quickly dispelled.
“In general, they were very supportive," Kung said.
At 15, Katherine moved to the United States and later attended School of Visual Arts then the Fashion Institute of Technology.
“When I first got here, I hated it, for first six months I was staying in my apartment, ordering in and watching TV,” she laughed.
The young designer eventually secured coveted internships at places like Oscar de la Renta and Donna Karan.
In 2013, she launched her own line, Kung Katherine .
“A lot of people when they first hear my brand they’re like why is it Kung Katherine? It’s confusing," she said. "You get it because we use it as a surname instead of a last name.”
This is an extremely tough business that continuously tests her.
“I remember sitting at my desk and trying to stock buyers from across the country with hand written letters, emails, and look-books," she remembered. "We [would] get no responses and it’s discouraging but then I also feel like if it’s that easy then everybody would be doing it.”
She focuses mainly on evening wear and always remembers her roots.
“Where does the inspiration come from?" I asked as she showed me her designs. "A lot of them come from the Chinese background and the Chinese influence like for example this one, the brush strokes remind me of the Chinese ink art.”
Her pieces may be inspired by China, but they’re all made right here.
“I see that this industry needs a lot of self support so I made it very clear to myself and my customers that we need to do made in NYC,” Kung said.
She hopes to keep growing and one day making it to New York Fashion Week.