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Lesson #2: Desire to Make More of Yourself
In 2006, Wang traveled to Shanghai to receive the China Fashion Award as International Fashion Designer of the Year. She had become the first designer with Chinese roots to gain global recognition. And for Wang, the moment was a truly special one. “This is a very big deal for me emotionally,” says Wang. “It really is my roots.”
For Wang, having Chinese roots was not just about where she came from. It was more about the lessons she drew from her cultural heritage, lessons her parents instilled in her from a young age. One of those lessons was what Wang calls “the hunger to learn,” to constantly be improving oneself.
“In America we think anything is possible,” she says. “The Chinese feel they have to work to deserve it.” It was with that work ethic that Wang approached her business. While her designs might have represented the freedom and ease that came from her upbringing in the U.S., Wang credits her Chinese background with encouraging her to constantly challenge herself, to always make more of herself.
Wang grew up in a wealthy family, and had all the privileges that money could buy. That never meant, however, that success was handed to her on a silver platter. Nor did it mean that Wang was immune to failure and setbacks. But again, in times of hardship, Wang turned to her roots to draw strength.
Of disappointment, Wang says, “I really bathe in it and say, ‘Okay, I’m feeling really sorry for myself and life’s impossible and I cannot go another step.’ I dwell on it to the point that I get it out of my system, and then I am able to move on.”
That unwillingness to ever succumb to setbacks has characterized Wang’s career. Despite receiving unfavourable press in her early years as a designer, and despite the fashion industry accusing her of using her family’s wealth to climb to the top, Wang stayed the course. She strove to prove to both herself and others that she was capable of great things.
Today, Wang claims, “I'm totally Americanized, yet in many ways the feelings I have for people and the respect I have are inherently Chinese. I am still deferential to my parents in a way that my daughters are not to me.”
Americanized as she may be, Wang attributes her hunger to learn and never give up to her Chinese background. When she opened The Perfect Wedding, a bridal boutique in Shanghai, she was, in a way, giving back to the culture that had taught her so much, that had brought here to where she is today.
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