Jasmine Smith is a Hong Kong based fashion stylist, blogger, designer, entrepreneur, and long time friend of Sideroom.com. Over a decade since dancing on stage at the Sideroom.com launch party in Auckland, we caught up to talk about life, business, and creativity in Hong Kong.
Tell us a little about your background, where are you from, where are you now, and how did you get there?
I am originally from New Zealand, where I went through all my schooling and studied fashion design at Auckland’s AUT, when I left university I continued my work in the fashion industry as a fashion stylist, working on magazine editorials, commercial shoots, and designer campaigns. I have since developed my role as a fashion entrepreneur through working as a stylist, personal shopper and blogger in Hong Kong. Recently adding ‘Designer’ to that list with a newly launched lingerie brand called RAVEN + ROSE. Hong Kong was an unexpected outcome in terms of creating a ‘home’ abroad. It was the result of a stop-over in Asia on my way to London (where I never ended up making it to) and an automatic sync with the vibrancy that makes up Hong Kong.
How long have you lived in Hong Kong and what is it about the city that made you decide to stay?
I have now been in Hong Kong for 8 years and the decision to stay here and not continue onto London was based on this cities strong and dynamic working ethic, its no limitations rule in terms of how far you want to push your career, its hustling pace and interesting people – all of which results in a city that never sleeps and always dresses for the occasion.
You are always juggling a few interesting projects, but lets start with dressmeblogme. What was your original intention for the projectand how has it evolved over the past few years?
‘Dress Me Blog Me’ is a blog that I started four years ago as a means to advertise myself as a personal shopper and stylist in Hong Kong. It was essentially a modern way for me to connect with my cliental. What started off as a budget friendly means of advertising organically evolved into a full time job as a blogger in Hong Kong, where my social media standing became the main source of my income.
How has the local market reacted to your work with dressmeblogme?
Hong Kong is a market that is always thriving for the newest product, the biggest idea, to be at the forefront of industry movements – so the country reacted amazingly to social media and supported its growth – which in turn meant my career boomed.
To support the development of bloggers in Hong Kong, I also set up a community called ‘#HKFashionBloggers’ – which is dedicated to strengthening the creative community and helping its members become more effective in their careers as fashion bloggers by being Hong Kong’s authority on the business of fashion via social media channels. This is all done via networking events, thought leadership nights, and collaborations that I set up and host.
Your latest creation is a lingerie brand called Raven + Rose, where did the name come from, and what is the concept behind the brand?
‘RAVEN + ROSE’ the name, was chosen as it symbolises both the dark intellectual side of femininity as well as its blooming and sensual nature; it brings together these two dynamic facets of femininity into harmonious balance.
I wanted to create a brand that is both a perfect compliment and a beautiful contradiction.
My RAVEN + ROSE designs represent edgy females in a way that still promotes their sensuality – without having to resort to push up bras or padding, as it’s the female form, its natural curves, that I believe should be embellished as apposed to re-shaped into something that fits the stereotypical mold of what it means to be sexy.
What are you plans and dreams for Raven + Rose?
I’d love to take RAVEN + ROSE back to New Zealand and Australia as a lot of my inspiration is rooted in aesthetics from my homeland – its dark and modest view on fashion. I’d like to grow the brand internationally as well as expand on what it offers. At the moment it’s lingerie – but that could evolve into much more – all the time representing females, and perhaps eventually males, who flirt on the outskirts of what is mainstream.
The biggest challenge is communication style and interpretation. And this isn’t really a language thing – in a business conversation, for example, both parties might be using the same word, understand that same word, but what the word can mean culturally and in business goes way past its dictionary definition. Business is a game that has different rules in different countries and adaption is your biggest asset – possibly also the biggest challenge.
I’ve found that the advantages of working in Asia have come in the form of efficiency, people work fast here, so it is possible to get a lot done in a limited amount of time without compromising quality.
Describe your lifestyle in Hong Kong, how has the city and its culture influenced your way of life?
My life is epically paced, operating on what feels quite literally like a 24/7 notion. This runs in perfect sync with Hong Kong and the expectations this city has of its inhabitants, as this is not a country to ‘chill’ in – you live the ‘high life’ but in return Hong Kong demands a lot back.
The Asian culture has altered my everyday lifestyle and my attitudes and approaches without a doubt, I’m a different person in Hong Kong than I am in New Zealand in terms of the way I react to my environment. But I’m still me – and I love this city – as wild and fast and demanding as it can be!
Do you think living in a city like Hong Kong has allowed you creative opportunities that would not have been available in NZ?
I have no doubt it has!
Here in Asia I have direct and regular access to luxury brands, designers, and projects that would have never been in my reach in New Zealand. This is mostly due to Hong Kong being the stepping stone into China, and with China in full focus at the moment this means there are huge creative opportunities for me right at my front door.
The creative scene runs on more of a mainstream level here in Hong Kong – but it is still a ‘scene’ nonetheless. It differs immensely from that in New Zealand, London or New York by having its own motives, direction and contributors – but that is exactly what creativity is anyway – a unique voice – and Hong Kong definitely has that, even if not completely matured or easily recognised yet.
Can you give some recommendations for other creatives visiting Hong Kong?
If visiting Hong Kong, some of my favourite places to hit are:
|| PMQ ||
The old Police Headquarters, situated in SoHo (just out of Central Hong Kong) is a shopping destination that supports local designers and is where you can find so much home-grown talent.
|| LITTLE BAO ||
Right next to PMQ is ‘Little Bao’ – a MUST stop for amazingly modern yet classic Hong Kong Bao’s – YUM!
|| TAI PING SHAN ||
This area is filled with amazing lifestyle stores, galleries, temples and fashion boutiques – it’s quaint filled with culture, amazing finds and quiet(ish) streets.
|| TEAKHA ||
This cute little creative tea shop not only makes the best Chai, but also makes you sit outside on crates – just one of the quirky touches the add to their atmosphere. Renowned for their Green Tea Cheesecake, it’s in Tai Ping Shan and is a great place to stop by in the weekend.
|| THE SPACE ||
This Art Gallery is well worth a visit, and is situated in-between quite a few other galleries, so if you’re looking to get a feel for visual arts in Hong Kong, this is a good area of Hollywood Road to hit.
|| STOCKTONS ||
One of my favourite whisky bars in the city, it’s worth a dark and sombre evening enjoying their cocktails.