One of the many things that I enjoy about being part of Hmoodle is getting the opportunity to meet talented people and giving them a chance to get their name out there. I was very fortunate to come across not just one, but two very gifted ladies who are taking their talents to the fashion scene in Los Angeles.
Sai Chang and Alex Thao are friends that want to help one another succeed in their dreams. They are packing their bags and preparing for the very long, but rewarding road trip to California. Memories will be made on this journey and once they cross the state line they will know that are within reach of making their dreams a reality.
I was able to talk to the ladies recently about their upcoming dream and why they decided that this move was absolutely necessary for future success.
Sometimes in life we are given the chance to follow the path to our dream, but sadly not all take that opportunity and live life with regret
Hmoodle: I’m here with business partners, but more importantly good friends, Alex Thao and Sai Chang. How are you guys doing?
Alex: We are doing great! we are super excited to be interviewed by Hmoodle.
Hmoodle: Why don’t you both tell our readers a little bit about yourselves?
Sai: My name is Sai Chang and I am a local Fashion Designer from Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. I am also the Designer and Founder of “essee culture”, a fashion brand influenced and inspired by the youth, street wear, urban culture and punk rock. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Apparel Design and Development from the University of Wisconsin Stout. I’ve been part of the Annual Fresh Traditions Fashion Show and most recently participated as a Designer in Thrive’s Spring/Summer Fashion Show this past May. My goal is to utilize fashion as a medium for self-identity and self-confidence; I’m a firm believer that how you look is reflected by how you feel. You are your most confident when your beauty from within is reflected onto the outside. Confidence is beauty, and beauty is skin deep.
Alex: And I’m Alex Thao, a local hair stylist here in the Twin Cities.
Hmoodle: What is the name of the business and how long have you been partners?
Sai: We actually don’t have a business together, but we’ve worked together once before for a photo shoot. Alex did some of my models’ hair for my Fall 2011 Collection (which was part of the Fresh Traditions V Fashion Show) photo shoot last November. We recently partnered up because we coincidentally discovered that we were both planning on moving to Los Angeles, CA this Fall, and this is how our partnership began with our show, “Runway to L.A.”
Hmoodle: What are your roles?
Sai: For this show, we are both the Fashion Show Coordinators. As for our careers, Alex is a Hair Stylist and I am a Fashion Designer.
Hmoodle: Can you both go into detail on how you choose your career path?
Alex: I became a stylist because when I joined the First Fresh Traditions Fashion Show as a model. I was really inspired by what the energy of the backstage of a fashion show was like and I was definitely inspired by the hairstyles and how they were done. That’s how I got into hair. I always thought about it growing up, but as a child was one of those kids that wanted to pursue everything and anything, but now I definitely know that this is my passion and what I really love doing, which is making people happy and creating hair on a blank canvas, which is why I know that L.A. would be a perfect fit for me to grow and expand myself as a hairstylist.
Sai: I first had interest in becoming a Fashion Designer in 7th grade. 10th grade is when my interest in fashion design took a new path. I entered a fashion design contest at the University of Wisconsin-Stout for high school students and was the grand prize winner. It was then that I decided to go to school for Fashion. Although I had an interest early on, in 7th grade, fashion designing was just something fun and exciting to dream about. Today, fashion design has taken on a new meaning. My passion is more than creating beautiful clothes. My passion is to make people look good and feel good, and fashion is my art form in achieving this.
Hmoodle: How has the journey been thus far?
Alex: The journey thus far has been a rollercoaster, but I love a challenge. In the hairstyling industry there is a lot of competition there are going to be people that will put down your work and there will be ones that will support you, but either way you have believe in yourself and continue to strive to be the best. Setting everything aside hairstyling has taught me that I am important to people and it has taught me to be a stronger person. I’d have to say hairstyling is my other half, she’s my best friend. She’s ever-changing.
Sai: My “designer” journey has been an experience of self discovery. It’s been a rollercoaster of doubt and certainty. Trying to figure out what it is that I really want to do and believing in myself has been a challenge. I’ve realized that you just have to do it.
The journey with putting on this Fashion Show, “Runway to L.A.” has been amazing. I’ve learned so much and have met so many people in the process. I’ve gained a new confidence and better understanding of myself and have grown so much. I never thought I could put on a fashion show and now I’m doing it.
Hmoodle: When did you make the decision to take this journey to Los Angeles and why?
Sai: I’ve been wanting to go to L.A. since college, but this year, I made the decision that I was going to finally make the move, no excuses. Why? Because I wanted to do something with myself, and I felt like I needed to step outside of my comfort zone so that I am placed in a position where I have to be my best. I want to bring myself to a place where I can be who I want to be and do what I love. So, I want to go to L.A. to discover and uncover this side of me in hopes of transforming my passion into reality. Why L.A.? It sounds cheesy, but L.A. is where I need to be and I just know that I have to be there.
Alex: For me the decision to relocate to L.A. was made sometime last year. I literally made the decision in a span of a week. I wasn’t happy with the job I had and I wasn’t happy with the hair industry. I was starting to think about my future and where I was going to take hairstyling and if I really wanted to do this anymore, Then I thought to myself, that hairstyling is my life, and it has been for three and half years. I knew that it was my passion. I knew that since graduating from Empire Beauty School in 2008 that I wanted to go to L.A. and pursue my dream as a hairstylist and I know now that this is the time to go and experience something new,exciting, and explore a network of a wider audience and learn and grow. This is my chance to step out of my comfort zone and it will motivate me to want to make it and not only that but to want to succeed in my career and in life.
Hmoodle: How have your friends and family responded to this decision?
Alex: I have a great support group of friends that I love dearly who have supported me through my ups and downs and they have been wonderful. Both of parents have been supportive. My mother told me to go chase my dreams and never look back, because she knows that I can do it. For my parents, growing up, I know that they couldn’t do the things that they wanted to and now that I have a that chance they are ninety-nine percent on my side only cause they would love for me to stay.
Sai: Many are supportive andmany have also questioned the move. Some don’t understand why I have to go to L.A. because they say I can do all the same things in MN. On the other hand, some people completely understand why I have to be in L.A. and are super excited for me.
As for my family, my parents were really against it at first, but now they are fully supportive of my decision. My siblings are all super supportive and excited for me.
Hmoodle: How do you plan to make this happen? Do you have a timeframe?
We are leaving October 27th, 2012. How do we plan on making this happen? We’re just going to do it! We are packing up our bags and hitting the road! Ready, or not, we are going! Sometimes, that’s just how you have to do it, because when you worry about all the things that you fear, then you come up with excuses, and you’ll end up never doing it.
We decided to team up to put on a Fashion Show Benefit to showcase our work to raise some funds to help with the expenses of relocating our businesses to L.A. Our show was originally planned as a small event for family and friends. The show quickly grew into something much bigger than we had imagined and planned for and before long, included many Twin Cities Artists. In return, for all of the support we’ve received, we wanted to somehow give back to the community.
After looking at many different foundations, it occurred to us and we thought, why not give back to our own community? It made so much sense to us, so we decided that we will be giving a portion of our proceeds to Hnub Tshiab: Hmong Women Achieving Together, whose mission is to prevent violence against Hmong women and girls by ending sexism in the community and be a catalyst for lasting cultural, institutional and social change to encourage Hmong women to achieve their highest potential in all of their roles. We’re firm believers in helping and supporting each other. After all, real success is when you can help somebody else succeed.
Hmoodle: I have much respect for you have the courage to pursue your dreams. Do you have any advice to those who want to take the jump, but are afraid to do so?
Alex: One thing that I have learned thus far with this journey is to believe in yourself. Believe that you can do it and have confidence. I know that this is a line that is used a lot, but it’s so simple and so true, “You Only Live Once, and You’ll never know until you try!”
Sai: Don’t be scared, just do it. I know how it feels to doubt your work and to not believe in yourself. So put yourself in situations that force you to step outside of your comfort zone; situations and opportunities that force you to challenge your doubts and inner fears.
Hmoodle: Do you have any last words for our readers?
Sai: I know this is super cliché, but if you believe it, you can achieve it! The fear of failing only prevents you from stepping outside of your comfort zone to really challenge yourself to realize your own potential. You just have to do it, and you CAN and you WILL do it. You will figure it out, and when you get there, you’ll look back and realize
how much you learned in the process and see how much you grew, and most of all, you’ll realize that you CAN do it.
Alex: I just want to thank all of my fans and supporters, friends and family, and to all the readers to please come support this event! We would very much appreciate your attendance.
Sometimes in life we are given the chance to follow the path to our dream, but sadly not all take that opportunity and live life with regret, but these two ladies are going for it. They are all in and that is in itself is impressive.
We at Hmoodle want to wish both Sai and Alex safe travels and good luck with their pursuit of happiness. I have no doubt you will be achieve what you set out to do.
Please join them at the Runway to L.A. fundraiser and show them your support!