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Age 32, Los Angeles, CA - Out Episode 3
QDescribe your family. AWe were an Asian immigrant family, so there were definitely challenges. My mom has worked in garment manufacturing factories all her life. It's very hard manual labor. I got my work ethic from my mom. While my mom worked hard to make sure our necessities were met, finances at home were still tight, and I learned to support myself financially growing up. So I was very practical and independent in my teens.
QCurrent occupation? AComputer Engineer/Programmer. Just recently left a job doing technical work for an investment bank.
QPast jobs? AMy first job was when I was 12, packaging sweaters for pennies at a factory. By the time I was 18, I worked 80 hours a week doing miscellaneous jobs to save up for my first year in college. I've done everything from odds and ends in garment factories to waitressing, sales, filing, etc.
QPets? AI had a miniature dachshund growing up, but none at the moment. I jokingly tell my hubby we are going to have 30 puppies one day, like that episode of "Family Guy."
QNicknames? AAsum, a nickname from uni friends (or college friends -- we Canadians like to distinguish university and colleges). It was my school user ID. They thought it was funny because in Cantonese, it sounds like the term you call old aunties.
QWhen did you realize you had designer potential? AI always knew I was visually creative since I was young. It was the one thing I did not struggle with. I won numerous art awards growing up (I recall one of my art teachers got mad at me when she found out I was going into computer engineering instead). I wanted to be a designer since grade school, but I didn't pursue it until I was 20. But even then, that was on my own. It was only when I showed my portfolio for a FIT entrance interview in 2008 and got great feedback and encouragement that I knew I really I had potential.
QFirst garment you ever made? ASome cheap poly organza tube-top with a bow in the back.
QWhat's your design training/schooling, etc.? AI took miscellaneous courses at night when I could in Toronto during my computer internship semesters at Humber College and Ryerson University. But mainly I learned on my own through my own projects to start. When I moved to NYC, I started taking night classes at FIT. In 2009, I enrolled at FIT full time, for a one-year accelerated fashion design associates degree.
QHave you won any awards for your designs/work related to design? AOutstanding Design in Draping Specialization in FIT 2009. I also won a finalist spot at the Charleston fashion week 2012 Emerging Designers Competition, where I got to present to fashion giants like Anne Slowey and Fern Mallis.
QStrengths as a designer? ACreativity, editing.
QWeaknesses as a designer? APerfectionism, over-thinking, confidence at times. My brain gets the best of me.
QWhat are your influences? ASome years ago, I had a lot of anime influences. You can still see some of these angular design details in my work today. Now sometimes I'm influenced by very romantic things, from a certain image to music. I also love to give a bit of abstract art feel in my clothing.
QWhat's playing on your iPod when you're designing? AI listen to some Asian music (K-pop, J-pop, Chinese, Taiwanese) as well as mainstream R&B and hip-hop.
QFavorite material or fabric to work with? AAt this very moment, washed cotton twill.
QItem you're most proud of designing? AMy finale dress at Charleston Fashion Week. Another designer sweetly told me it was the most beautiful thing she's ever seen in real life.
QFavorite designer(s)? AStella McCartney, Rick Owens, Alexander McQueen.
QSketch or drape? ABoth. Recently, more sketching.
QPatterns or solids? ASolids. It's hard to start out as an independent designer with patterns because you can't afford exclusivity, and making your own prints can be extremely costly.
QFavorite colors? AAt the moment, greyish dusty pink -- I used various tones of it throughout my wedding. Afterwards, one of my bridesmaids painted her bedroom like that and called it 'Angela pink.'
QBiggest fear as a designer? AHaving a naked model down the runway. Malfunction.
QFashion must? ABrown booties (no lace) with a bit of heel. This can easily match a lot of outfits.
QFashion faux pas that drives you crazy? ANude stockings with sandals, but I'm sure it can look cool if done right in some editorial.
QUgliest item of clothing/accessory you've worn? AMy Catholic high school uniform. It was a twice-hand-me-down.
QFavorite style icon? ARihanna, Keira Knightley.
QWhat would you design for the First Lady? AA modern asymmetrical suit-dress in a light grey-ish/dusty pink color.
QCelebrity you wish you could design for? ARihanna: a cool shirt dress with an alternative twist. Keira Knightley: a fresh-looking leather jacket or trench she could wear with lots of everyday outfits.
QFavorite supermodel muse? ANatalia Vodianova.
QIf you had to name your label, you'd call it... AAngela Sum.
QIf you weren't designing, you'd be... AHanging out with my hubby or catching some TV or a movie.
QPlaces/cultures you wish you could design for? AAsia (Korea, Japan, Hong Kong).
QDream place to set up your business? ALA, NYC, or Toronto. It really depends on life.
QWebsites that feature your work? Afb.com/by.AngelaSum, angelasum.com, fashionarttoronto.ca, amandakphotoart.com, charlestonfashionweek.com, tofashionistas.com
QHow were you described as a kid? AWhen I was really young in Hong Kong, I was lazy, probably really dumb. We were ranked as kids in school and I think I was ranked like a hundred something. But I got a second chance and more supportive encouragement in Canada, so I started working harder. By high school, I was the top student winning tons of academic awards. I even got ranked first in engineering many semesters, beating out 100+ guys -- it was a surprise to me, I was really intimidated going in, it was one of the top most competitive programs in Canada. Anyway, I was very determined and hardworking. I guess I was a keener, a nerd. Now I'm just a fashion nerd.
QHow are you described by your family and friends? AHardworking, determined.
QWhy do you think you're easy to live with? AI think I'm fairly considerate. I can be introverted at times, and perfer some alone space.
QFavorite hangout? AAnywhere with hubby. We both work a lot so just any time together is great.
QFavorite movies and TV shows? A"Suits," "Family Guy," "Seinfeld," "How I Met Your Mother."
QFavorite books/authors? AI'm not well read, I don't have the time between a computers career and a design career. I loved "The Devil Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisberger, go figure.
QFavorite websites? AGoogle. I like to Google a lot on random stuff. If it wasn't for this fashion passion, it would be the next computer thing I'd be interested in pursuing.
QYour Twitter handle? A@byAngelaSum
QFavorite Twitter accounts? AI haven't kept up.
QFast food or gourmet? AFast food. Can't afford gourmet.
QCooking or takeout? ACooking, to budget.
QFavorite foods? AEggs!
QBeer or wine? ANeither. Girly fruity cocktails are my favorite.
QGuiltiest pleasure? AVarious ice cream treats we keep in the freezer.
QBiggest pet peeve? ATailgaters. They make me nervous!
QHow did you end up auditioning for PR? AI always had an excuse with work, but now that I've resigned after relocating, hubby encouraged me to just go for it. I auditioned once right after finishing FIT. I was hoping for a reason not to go back to computers/finance, before my student visa was up. I did not know how to represent myself at all and brought a mess of things.
QFavorite past PR designer? AUli - I remember I loved her final collection. Mondo, he just seems like such a nice guy I'd get along great with, and I love his boldness.
QChallenge you wish they'd bring back? APuppy challenge, just cause I love dogs.
QChallenge you hope they don't? AScreaming baby. Can't imagine taking care of crying babies while screaming.
QYour take on team challenges: AI think I could love or hate depending the group dynamics. But it's always hard because designers are very independent. It's a good opportunity to collaborate though.
QWhat do you look for in a model? AA good attitude, a clean look. I like a "cute" look (as opposed to someone more classy or sophisticated-looking).
QDo you think you can win "Project Runway"? ATo be honest, I'm not sure. I believe I have the skills and creativity but there's a lot of tough challenges and I could choke, or just have a bad day and get kicked off. I'm also someone that never likes to get too ahead of myself. So, all I can do is try my hardest and hope for the best.