Interview Designer Gloria Lee

Gloria Lee of tissh by gloria lee

Canadian designer and serial dreamer, Gloria Lee, began her love affair with designing at an early age. Set to be an actuary, Lee had just finished up her degree at the University of Toronto when a chance shopping encounter brought her to purchase amethyst stones and jewelry making supplies. That night she made her first pair of earrings and her passion was reignited. Soon after, Lee enrolled at Coco Fashion Design Centre to learn pattern making and garment construction. Designing luxe clothing with simple lines was her goal. Today, her clothing and jewelry collections have graced runways in Toronto, St. Maarten and New York.

Gloria Lee (centered)

Q: Tell me about your background. What is your childhood story?

I was born in Canada and grew up mostly in Pickering, Ontario, in a middle-class family. I have an older sister and a younger brother. My parents emigrated from Taiwan and held modest jobs to support our family.
What I remember most about my childhood was how hard my parents worked and that it was all for us kids.

Academics were also very important in our family and I remember really loving our World Encyclopedia book set. Very nerdy but true! I used to get teased in school being the “brainer”. Back then I used to hide what I knew. Now, I wish I could go back and tell my 10-year-old self to own it and be proud, not ashamed, of what I am.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in the fashion industry?

I always knew at some deep level that I wanted to design. I used to doodle dresses in my spare time and I watched Fashion Television (a Canadian TV show) religiously. As a teenager, I would frequently redesign things in my head as I window shopped at the mall.

I’m a very visual person, and being in fashion allows me to express that artistic side of myself through clothing and jewelry. What better way to express what you feel than to wear it!

I am also a very spiritual person in the sense that I believe we are all capable of doing great things. A big believer in positive thinking, I also meditate while designing and encourage good energy in all that I do. In some way, I’d like to think that by being in the fashion industry, I could have a positive influence in the way women dress and feel. Clothing can have a big affect on how you feel and when you feel good, amazing things can happen!

Q: What are your thoughts on being an Asian that influence your design?

In terms of designing, I don’t think there is necessarily an influence on me being Asian. I design very organically – I visualize what I want to see on women and allow the creative energy to just flow onto paper.

However, when running my business (which is a very essential part of being a designer – you are also an entrepreneur), I feel that I have learned a lot being in Asia and doing business here. There are many customs that I have found to be beneficial in fostering business relationships. Being Asian, it is in my heritage and I can understand where certain business behaviors originate from and why they continue to be very present in today’s international marketplace.

Q: How do you define your style?

I like to keep things simple with an unexpected twist in the details. I am intrigued by lines and innovative cuts, which redefine silhouettes and shapes. My style bleeds into my designing and I often draw inspiration from geometry and symmetry, keeping in mind the modern woman I design for.

Q: What’s next for you?

We are currently focused on developing our jewelry line, which is in addition to our clothing collection each season. We would like to expand our offerings to include more than our signature rings. I already have designs in my head for necklaces, bracelets and body jewelry.

Q: Who is your idol? What makes him/her your idol?

Mothers. I admire them so much. Many of my friends are becoming first-time mothers and to see what they go through, what sacrifices are made for their children and the endless amount of energy they have is astounding and awe-inspiring. It makes me appreciate my mother even more so than I already do and I can’t wait to become one myself one day.

Q: What advice or words of inspiration do you have for upcoming fashion designers?

I would like to let them know this. Life is a series of opposites. If you don’t appreciate the lows, you won’t enjoy the highs. Know that pursuing a dream takes a lot of hard work, perseverance and passion. Mistakes are your best friend as they will teach you and shape you into the person you will become.

Faith is visualizing and believing in something before it happens. Relief is knowing you had it in you to make it happen. Trust is waiting for it.

Believe in yourself and enjoy the ride!

Gloria Lee (centered)


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