Being a woman is not easy, do you what you like, enjoy what you do.
If you want to know more about me, read my interview by KL Lifestyle magazine.
Where are you from? Tell us about your hometown.
I am from Beijing, China. I was born and raised there. People call us the “The Beijinger”. Beijing is a massive city with a huge population. The city has been changing rapidly over the years. Every time I go back, it looks different, but it is able to maintain its cultural heritage. I am sure you know about the Summer Palace and Forbidden City. The most famous food there, of course, is Peking Duck.
Tell us a bit about your background.
I am always into fashion since I was in middle school. I spent a lot time exploring what was new in the fashion world through magazines, online, movies and TV series. However, I was not able to choose any fashion-related major during my university days. Over the years I have slowly developed the skills on how to be a fashionista. I also discovered that having a good sense of fashion doesn’t mean it always needs to cost you an arm and a leg. Fashion needs to fit your personality to make it work.
When did you come to Malaysia? What was your first impression?
My first time to Malaysia was for a holiday about 9 years ago. I fell in love with KL when I first visited here. I think it was love at first sight. Since I was raised in a big city, I would always enjoy the crowds and the cosmopolitan feeling of KL. The multi-cultural aspect always attracts me. The federal capital has its own personality. On the other hand, Malaysia is blessed with so many beautiful islands, especially in Sabah. I have family members and friends who constantly go there for holidays.
What do you do and how did you get into it?
I am a freelance stylist/personal shopper, and I also have an office job. I can’t recall exactly when people started to ask me about what to buy, or how did I make my hair. There are a lot of times when I walk on the street, people would randomly approach me to ask where I bought my shoes or my dresses. Then I thought it might be a good opportunity to make it as a business. I started my own website (www.gracecao.co), then eventually had customers.
Most of the time I help people who don’t know how to dress up, or people who have no idea on what to wear for functions or events. My clients are not actors or actresses; they are ordinary people like me who want to have a better look. I regularly blog to update my readers on the latest trends in the fashion industry.
What is it that you love about what you do?
To help people become confident and feel good about themselves motivates me the most. I feel very happy when my clients are looking great. After all “you are what you wear”.
Do you eat the local food here? Any favourites?
I eat the local food everyday. In fact I cannot even think of one food that I don’t like in Malaysia. Hainanese Chicken Rice is definitely one of my favourites and ironically, it’s not originally from Hainan, China! Another food I love is the nasi lemak from Petronas station! Strange? You have to try it when you are starving.
How is your interaction with the locals?
I think it’s such a blessing that I can naturally blend in with the people here and even my friends think that I am too local already. China and Malaysia are very close and the history goes way back. I have made good friends in Malaysia, and I keep meeting amazing people here. Malaysians are definitely one of the most patient people in the world.
What are the five things that an expatriate can take advantage of by living in Malaysia?
The medical facilities here are superb and affordable. There are plenty of interesting and beautiful places to visit. Shopping is great and it can suit anyone’s budget. Make as many local friends as possible because they will help you see the different sides of Malaysia. Finally, Malaysia is pretty much the centre of Southeast Asia, making it a hub to travel around the region.
Have you got any funny/interesting stories that have happened while you’re here?
I attended Bahasa Malaysia class whenI first moved here. I love languages and it is also quite natural for me wanting to learn the language. All my classmates were expats too and we always shared interesting stories of our own countries. We had so much fun, and at the same time we learnt the local language.
Another interesting thing for me is that people always think that I am from Korea. This happens almost everyday. When I am in the shopping mall, the shop assistants will try to say “Hello” in Korean to me. If I go to a Korean restaurant, the Korean boss would be speaking Korean to me as well. There was even a case of someone dancing Gangnam Style when he saw me.
I would just explain to them that I am from China and normally they would say that I do not look Chinese and Chinese people don’t usually speak good English. I was wondering what do people think how the Chinese are supposed to look like. Then I came to realise that this is an opportunity for them to know me as one of the young and modern generation of Chinese citizens who speaks good English, thinks freely and also loving her own country.
Your advice to people who would like to follow in your footsteps?
At this stage, I don’t think I’m at the position to ask people to “follow my footsteps” just yet but I hope that I am already on my way to success. I would encourage everyone, especially women, to do what they really like and devote themselves to it.
Do you have any fashion related question or would like to hire me as your fashion stylist? Email me email@example.com.