Although we don’t typically feature international businesses, we couldn’t help ourselves but to feature My Little Belleville on our site. Prepare yourselves for an overload of creative genius and beauty.
Head over to her shop
What is a joyous moment that you’ve experienced recently?
I moved to London this year with my husband (and cat!)– which was pretty joyous. We gave up a lot to move here, but we wanted an adventure, and an adventure we have been having!
I find a lot of joy in simple things here in London. It is expensive and not always the easiest. But there are some things that I just can’t believe– like riding my bike downtown by Big Ben, or through Hyde Park, and seeing such beautiful architecture and beauty. It makes me feel alive. I love being in a big international city again. I grew up in Beijing and Hong Kong, and it makes me really happy to be here. Paris is only 2 hours away! How can you not be joyous about that? 😉
Why did you start this venture? Out of opportunity, necessity, dream job…?
My Little Belleville started after I went to Paris for a few months to live a few years ago. I was inspired by Belleville, the melting pot of Paris. The overall art thing began when I was young. As a kid I showed symptoms of depression and anxiety, and my artwork always brought me out of it. It was something that brought me happiness and made me feel special, like I had something to offer the world. It was what helped me through a lot of hard transitions, especially since we moved around the world all growing up. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew I had to do it. It’s my calling, and I gained a lot of confidence from it. I also observed a lot as a child, and my art and writing helped me process my experiences. Traveling also helped my emotions. I felt such inspiration the first time we moved abroad. Especially in Asia. As an adult now, I feel like the world is so accessible. And it’s become even more so.
Did you have to give anything up to pursue this?
I had a very privileged childhood, and my parents indulged my creativity and my ambitions to be an artist. My parents were very into the arts themselves, I grew up going to plays, art museums, concerts, all around the world. I felt so inspired by everything I saw and was able to participate in. I think I was privileged with having this perspective because I know most people have to worry about money and making a living, instead of dreaming about what they wish they could be doing instead. I know I was very blessed, and I don’t take it for granted that I had these experiences.
Besides this, what is another hidden talent, passion, or hobby of yours?
I love singing, I love music, and I love dancing (so much!) If I could have three or four other lives, I would learn how to do hair properly, become a dancer, or a musician. I took flute growing up, so I can play that and some piano by ear. I think art was something I felt I was better at naturally. Another thing I’ve dabbled in is modeling (! lol !). I always felt I’d just be a good part-time model. I think there are people definitely way more beautiful than me that deserve to be full-time models. In the past I’ve also done extra work though, for movies, music videos, commercials. That was always fun. I like being involved in a lot of aspects of the arts. It all kind of ties in with itself.
Are you close with your family?
Growing up moving a lot, your family becomes your closest friends, or at least mine did. I am very close with my brother and parents. Being away from them is always hard. I feel we have a special bond because of the different places we lived, and just the types of people my parents are. Our experiences were so unique and they were literally the only people who experienced what I experienced during that time, so there is this understanding that we have for one another. Both of my parents were so incredible at communication, and I always felt free to express myself and be who I am. I was so grateful for that. I still speak to my parents and brothers on a daily basis, even though they are on the other side of the world. They ‘get’ me.
Animal I Would Want to Be Most?
Easy. CAT! or..a bird, Or… a wild horse. It would wonderful to fly, and wonderful to be able to run fast.
I sleep in a lot..because I’m such a night owl. I also don’t have children yet so I think I need to take full advantage! (right, moms?) I wake up, slowly, look at my phone and emails, then go out and do yoga or run or bike ride for an hour, eat a brunch/breakfast, get ready, then I get going on my projects/art. I try to get the boring stuff out of the way first.. like packaging and shipping orders. Then start on the fun stuff.
I have seen some amazing tattoos by @kikitattoos. I like Japanese inspired tattoos, simple lines, even Victorian inspired ones. Something involving hands or eyes. I also like the simplicity of stick ‘n poke tattoos (and have even thought about doing one on myself!) but I also am a wimp, and get bored of things easily, so I don’t know if I’d ever really get one. Too permanent. Piercings though… I had my share of nose rings, belly rings, & tragus piercings as a teen (WHOOPS).
Last Great Book I Read:
The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. SO GOOD. It’s like the best combination of LOTR, Harry Potter, and any other fantasy novel you love all put together. I’m also reading Wool right now, by Hugh Howey. V. good too.
Favorite TV Shows:
Parenthood, Battlestar Galactica, Upstairs Downstairs (the 70’s version) Jeeves & Wooster, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Mr. Selfridge, Downton Abbey… I’ve seen Mrs. Patmore and Mr. Bates out and about in London. Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) lives in my neighborhood and I see her a lot walking her dogs. It’s awesome. I have stood right next to her at crosswalks not wanting to seem obvious. I’m ridiculous around celebrities. I always want to run away and/or hug them and tell them how much I love them. David Tennant walked by me a few weeks ago too with his son. I don’t watch Dr. Who, but a lot of my friends were pretty furious/jealous when I told them!
Gah. Diet Coke. It’s so bad for you– but I really do love it. It’s a luxury here when I can find it on tap! And with ice. I also love teas. Rooibus is my favorite. When I lived in South Africa as a teen, I tried it there for the first time. It’s my go-to tea.
My Dream Collaboration:
I’d love to collaborate with Marc Jacobs. Ever since I was in HS, I’ve been a fan. Such quirky, weird ads, and the clothes and shoes were always so good. I sometimes would find items in markets in Beijing that were the real thing and would be so excited to buy them. I would love to do work for several places around London. Maybe I will.. it’s just a matter of time. And positive thinking. I believe in that.
Favorite Song of All Time:
That is so hard! But I will always love Ace of Base- The Sign. I’m sorry. But I do love that song. I also love anything by Little Dragon. Grimes. Active Child. Sohn. Anything old and French and Jazzy. Lisa Ono. Okay I know you said favorite..but I really can’t pick!
What is the most traumatic thing you’ve gone through?
I think moving back to the states from China after being away for my whole life was pretty traumatic. I had reverse culture-shock, and that was hard. I was away from my family for the first time. And I had moved to Utah of all places. Not exactly the ideal place for my international upbringing. It was really difficult and I hated it for several years until I met people I could be friends with. Funny enough, a few of my close international friends moved there too so that was good. I went through some tough things my first few years, which was really hard. I learned A LOT as they say. I did though. I also learned to listen to myself and my heart. I think that is so important. Always listen to your instincts and impressions.
If you could tell everyone in the world something, what would it be?
That being an artist is hard. It is like any job, it’s slow going sometimes. I’ve been in places, even recently, where I think I’m horrible, I’m the worst! and I want to be better. But I am always going to be my worst critic. And then there are moments that I feel so discouraged and then something amazing happens. In those down moments I’m like.. okay… something good has to be coming…
For those who want a career in creative, don’t give up and work hard. Take every opportunity you can to get your work out there. Even if it seems small. And be consistent. Keep producing work no matter what!
I don’t always believe everyone feels as passionate about something as I do about my work. And I think if you are feeling like you don’t know what you want to do or even like, I would try as many things as you are interested in, until something sticks, until you love something enough. Sometimes you just have to make a choice and take action. Also, getting a normal job and having that is amazing. You don’t have to be a celebrity or some famous blogger or instagram-genius to make your mark in the world. Every single one of you has something to offer. And also, guess what? You are also creative, no matter if you are artistic or not. We all create things. Like hey, you can make a sandwich, right? There you go. Be the best sandwich maker in your neighborhood. I know that sounds ridiculous. But you’ve got to start somewhere.
Bottom line: try to do something every day that makes you feel joy. And not just superficial, I’m going to shopping, I love clothes and Diet Coke joy. That’s fun too, but go for a walk, PLAY, explore. Touch plants, leaves, garden. Take photos, print them out, give them to people on the street for no reason whatsoever. It’s so important to do spontaneous, childlike things. We can take life so freaking seriously sometimes.
Oh and also, travel. As much as you can!
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