Career ruts are bound to pop up every once in a while, no matter where you sit on the totem pole. If you find yourself feeling uninspired or confused, you’re definitely not alone. The big question? How to push forward when that roadblock inevitably blocks your way. For Vanessa Hong of The Haute Pursuit, a change of scenery makes a world of difference.
And Hong should know: As a fashion blogger, the creative director behind her own ready-to-wear line, staying inspired is do-or-die. Her constantly on-the-go lifestyle might seem tiring to some (she splits her time between Hong Kong, New York, and Paris) but for Hong, the changing scenes is exactly the creative fodder she needs.
Recently, Hong decided to make NYC her new home base to serves as her creative foundation as she designs her next collection. “New York is unlike any other city in the U.S.,” says Hong. "I love how dense [it] is; there is a lot of everything—art, people, shops—on every city block.”
We caught up with Hong to find out which spots she can't miss when in town, the ultimate packing tips, and on-the-go must-haves, like her trusty TUMI suitcase.
MYDOMAINE: There are so many different paths to becoming a blogger. What was yours?
VANESSA HONG: I started my blog six years ago in my cubicle at work. Definitely on the DL! Not too soon after, the hobby started becoming really serious, and the next thing I knew, I was being courted by agencies. I quit my job about a year after and never looked back.
MD: What about your ready-to-wear label, THP? How did that come together?
VH: This was really an organic outgrowth of [my blog]. My earliest dreams were to always work in fashion, probably because my mom went to fashion school. Through my work, travel, and exposure to the industry, I began to carve out the idea of a womenswear line. I’m proud to say that I’ve done all of this on my own, without outside financing; I’m a testament to the idea that hard work pays off.
MD: Why do you think your followers respond so well to what you’re putting out there?
VH: I really love fashion, but for the most part, I’m a very straightforward sort of girl, which is why a lot of people can relate to my style. My style also changes depending on what city I’m in. In New York, it’s always more subdued, with heavy reliance on great coats and shoes. In Hong Kong, I tend to wear more fun items, and Paris is a little more glam.
MD: Speaking of, you were in New York City recently. What was on your itinerary?
VH: I’m looking at apartments because I’m designing my next collection and have decided to make New York City my creative base.
MD: Why New York City? What about it inspires you creatively?
VH: The first time I came to New York, I was just amazed by the diversity and really how everyone and everything just mixed so well. It’s really beautiful and inspiring. I also love how dense New York is. There’s a lot of everything—art, people, shops—on every city block. I always feel limitless when I’m in New York.
MD: What are the places in New York City where you find inspiration, or just go to relax?
- The newest The Row store on 71st Street is a beautiful mecca for anyone who loves fashion and interiors.
- The Apartment is a unique space by creative director Vanessa Traina in SoHo that is a multi-brand showroom that looks like your dream apartment.
- I always make it a must to go to any Dover Street Market wherever I am in the world, and New York is no different. The visual displays are always stunning and the fashion selection super strong.
- Kunjip is great-quality “fast food” in Koreatown if you want a quick, delicious bite. They have great vegetarian options and teas.
- And finally the Whitney Museum is the perfect size for a half-day solo museum trip. It’s also located in the Meatpacking District, which means close access to food and coffee shops.
MD: What did you bring with you on this trip?
VH: I brought the TUMI 19 Degree suitcase, durable without compromising on style, which is really important for me when I travel. The case is sleek but highly functional, and it kept me organized for my whole trip. I travel anywhere from two to three times per month. Another secret of mine is Ziploc bags. I put everything into designated Ziplocs—one for electronics, makeup, hair products, etcetera. Lastly, I always bring my yoga mat, my books, a journal, and lots of water.
MD: How do you prepare for a trip to a new city?
VH: I always think about a place visually before I embark. I do a lot of research about the area, the food, the sites, and the culture so that I know I'll be stimulated the whole time. Right now, I'm looking at India and Iceland.
MD: What else inspires your work?
VH: Inspiration for me comes from everywhere. My friends, women on the streets, history, art, museums, books, music. I’m a sponge and absorb everything and anything around me.