एक

'The beginning is such a good place to be, my darling. There is much in store. But there is acknowledgement of what came before the beginning to mark this moment as a beginning. And in that place I was there, too. But let's start where beginning is - the union of Me and you, the awakening of your heart, bit by bit, to Me. These first starts are for you to appreciate the moments that came before them - to see where I was, what I was doing, before you recognised my presence. Let me take you back to where I was when you couldn't see me there. Perhaps the definitions of beginning will need to be rewritten. I always begin again in you, child. I am the discovery of the beginning - all hope and life in you. I will give you a fresh start this day. I give you new breath, new eyes, new ADVENTURE to set out on with me. But I want to start this beginning by going back to where I've always been with you/ I have always been with you, my child, even when you couldn't see it. I want to show you now.' 

As I finished my morning reading and began to sink into my work I couldn't concentrate. I wondered at how beautiful those words above were, how profound it left me, knowing that writing about the history of fashion buying, and the origins of couture shows - how insignificant my words became in perspective of the power of the words beforehand. I moved onto some of my design work, in theory, this is what I love, this should make my heart full with creativity but I just wanted to hear those words again.

This is me... I've never quite felt at home - the only sense of belonging has been in what I do. Having lived in-between worlds that are not at all very intertwined, I felt like an outsider at every turn. I identified myself in my abilities whether that was in dance or being a part of the fashion industry. I use to find worth in achieving things because I didn't know where I belonged. I always felt very local, yet international. I liked the ease of pretending to be Malay, the extremely laid back lifestyle and the larger than life laughters. I could also enjoy the metropolitan culture of Hong Kong. And the grassroots behind it that enlightened a fascination of my heritage. The privilege of being British, my diverse extended family stretching from Nepal to America. I could explore and delve into any of these things, but none of it will ever take me by the hand and tell me exactly who I am. It's funny to think about. Nothing will ever be as good as the best thing you've experienced. Pretty straight forward but so crazy at the same time.

'If this seems crazy, it is to bring glory to God.' 2 Corinthians 5:13

I just wanted to write a quick one to encourage you guys, to push forward, to keep going, and to cherish moments that you don't quite understand yet. Dwell in spaces you are not familiar with, make peace with your circumstances, if there is a lesson in it, seek that out so you can move on. Keep going.

Bon temps

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Sorry that I've neglected you. A little - a lot has happened since my last post. Take a look here for a brief run down: http://jwngeow.tumblr.com. Pre-new year I spent settling back in Manchester and England, splitting my time between family and friends and cracking away looking for a job while revisiting a few hobbies that has been intimidating me. Combine those with my inability to face my floods of thoughts and feelings that I've been afraid to open the trap door on. It means collating a years worth of trying new things and jumping into new experiences and I have no idea where to start.  I've enjoyed the comfort of coming home to know that some things will always remain the same, to have a place to unwind, collect thoughts and think about the next steps. So without further a due, let's catch up. 

I loved living in Gulu, I would choose to stay in Uganda but besides from my internship ending over there, moving on feels right. The lifestyle was baffling, unexplainably irregular and chill all at the same time, but if I could sum it up in one word, it was ridiculous. Everyday was an adventure. I feel like I've shared those good moments with you on social media, and I'm left yet with the hard stories I don't quite know how to tell. I don't quite know how my mind has gotten so weary and burdened, but I know that I experience the world through people and regardless of what I've learned and faced in my time in Uganda, the people I've met there are incredible. They really humbled me and reminded me that Africa was indeed, real life at times. I've taken away lessons on building determination, grit and strength in my character. Integrity and loyalty, things that I am reminded to commit to because I see it through example and forget how unlike that I am at times. Work, KK and getting to know other organisations really inspired me.

I have given up fast fashion. This was such a gradual decision entirely owed to my addiction to newness, to shopping - I've always made a stance not to buy from certain brands who for a fact trades unethically, but I had to take more steps than that. I sold most of my good clothes to help fundraise for my voluntary trip to Uganda. Last week I cleared out my wardrobe to be left with an honest capsule of everyday clothes (basically black if you know me) plus a few occasion pieces. Coming to terms that I don't need fast fashion is hard. My choice hasn't simply been because it is the right thing to do, but because I study this and have seen, even been a part of the cycle that feeds/ excels from unfair trading - I've given up fast fashion because it counts. If you don't really get where I'm coming from check out the film, The True Cost it documents in detail the effects of the industry and the realities that brands won't show. 

I'm working as a receptionist in Manchester at the moment (but if anyone needs a bartender, I'd gladly take on a few more hours in the evening) so I'm happy to be here and earn again. Working as an intern for Aaks and a contributor for Project Crossover also. I'm meanwhile looking to work permanently in fashion for good and social enterprise. That's my long term plan. Working for KKU has changed me and I have new dreams of working on the ground, be a part of an industry that truly has the means to get a message out there and impact lives. Not sure how to progress these thoughts until I get there, so I guess we'll talk soon. Again.

Find The Silver Lining //

My first paid Job was with a 2 story wedding superstore when I was 14. Being around beautiful gowns and assisting the bride-to-be find their perfect wedding dress gave me scope into an extraordinary world of fantasy. It was simple to me but it was magical and I couldn't get enough of how you can be totally transformed and taken into any time and place through creativity. That's what I had hoped to give every time I used an image as a tool of communication.

Growing up has given me the second insight: my first Vogue was one with Stella Tennant on the cover page by Tim Walker in 2005/ 06... I remember being in the Asda I still go to today, with my cousin who in all seriousness bought me a copy to 'teach me something about fashion'. I was captivated, who is this Galliano? What in the world are culottes? Give me a culotte! They have law in Haute Couture. It was a slippery slope from there I spent my pennies on heaps of issues that I've kept to this day. I love print and I love great design, I haven't thrown a copy away. I pretty much knew which path I was heading to from there.

It's a rarer occasion nowadays; those aesthetic wonders in design and awe inspiring moments of finding or making something brilliant. So I've been trying to figure out how to make it 'work' without vacating any passion and purpose in it. You know what I mean right, deadlines, requirements, what other people say... at the end of the day, I will treat work as work and if I love it, what a blessing, but if not, I find time to work on things I do enjoy.

Here is my experience and lessons so far:

It's (really) ok to say no: All the way. This is probably my least favourite advice, 'say yes to everything' 5 years ago this seemed pretty logical, you'd want to gain as much experience as possible, see as much as you can and bottom line, get a load of internships on your CV. I have, some really have taken me a milestone from learning somebody's craft, giving me valuable insight into the professional world and teaching me to learn and apply in ways that finally evolved beyond school and education. But some only taught me nothing but to know that I didn't want to do that job again. I wish I knew to ask for a job spec (it might be surprising to read that you don't really get a proper one but in fashion, interns can be disposable and easily replaceable so little work is involved in the hiring process) - but if I had, I'd known that if the role is unclear, you'd likely be doing a whole lot of nothing but at the same time, just about everything. Let's be a little less/ more serious, it's time you will never get back, use it wisely.

You will never find your dream job: this valuable advice/ opinion was from one of the security I used to always see at the door at my old job. It's actually so eye opening and has helped me plenty in keeping my head up and be present in what I do, I've had difficulty finding what my dream job is so I don't look anymore. If one day I land a dream job, it will be a bonus but until I know what it is, I will just concentrate on finding things I do enjoy wherever I am.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes: Out of all advice I have ever received, this wins the popular category. My old colleague kept pointing out that I was still young and felt passionately about this: the older you get, the less room there is for flexibility, you are likely going to be aiming to climb further up rather than jump across - do this as many times as it will be good for you, explore while you can - leave no regrets.

Find the silver lining: The toughest but inevitable part of any type of job is having to face rejection, not sometimes, not just when you put yourself out there on a limb, but just simply, everyday. It comes in all forms, when pitching ideas, writing or photographing, being turned down, someone else taking the credit for your work, harsh comments, and you just have to learn to take a second to ponder what you still believe at that point and what you can take from the experience and try again or move on. Over the years I see that half the time rejection isn't negative and 99% of the time it's not personal, it's a fast pace industry so people are just honest. I can say I'm a sensitive person but if I have nothing else to thank crit weeks in uni for than preparing me a thick skin and equally a type of professionalism, I'll take it. 

Just do it: and on that point, try things for yourself, it's different to stand from a point of view 10 years from now after you've lived it and arrived through informed decisions than just never having quite known. Chase your dreams, don't dismiss your passions.