So last night - at the last minute - I discovered that someone I truly admire in the fashion industry, Mary Ping of Slow and Steady Wins the Race, would be part of a discussion at MOCA - Museum of Chinese in America. In terms of fashion, I share the philosophy behind Ping's brand Slow and Steady Wins the Race:
"Slow and Steady Wins the Race breaks the rule that fashion must constantly change. The work is seasonless and proves that good design elicits both an intellectual and emotional response that is ageless, cross-cultural — boundless."
Although the discussion was geared toward the impact of being Asian American on the creative process, I couldn't help but relate to Ping's upbringing which though filled with love and encouragement, was also filled with expectation. I grew up with a self-proclaimed "Steady Eddie" for a mother, who I have mentioned countless times encouraged me to take a very "safe" route in terms of a career and whose voice always rings in the back of my head...
"Honey, slow and steady wins the race."
Worlds, or words in this case, collided when I discovered Slow and Steady Wins the Race was looking for an intern back in 2009, a year after I had moved to NYC to pursue my career in fashion. I applied for the position with the following dramatic, yet very heartfelt at the time, email dated September 23, 2009 - which I was able to find this morning:
To Whom It May Concern:
I live by the words, "Slow and Steady Wins the Race," and have repeated them countless times during my past career as a fourth grade teacher and in my present endeavor as a fashion designer. I taught for 10 years, all the while knowing I wanted to design. And so, in true "slow and steady wins the race" style, I step by step planned my exodus from teaching and into the world of fashion.
In the "fashion world" that is, and I am finding all of the drama (and then some) that I expected - but what I did not expect is to find is a label that shared my slow and steady roots. As I read your manifesto, I thought to myself, "Now, this is something I can really relate to." I, too, love the idea of developing piece by perfect piece and giving people simple, well-thought out pieces that will last a very long time and always be go-to items in a closet. That's how I dress - I have my very favorite basics that I wouldn't trade for anything.
Anyway, this note is turning into "long and lengthy," as opposed to slow and steady. I am attaching my resume - unsolicited, I know, but I want you to have it in case I fit anywhere within your label. My experience appears "cookie-cutter," but my ideas, passion and designs are not. Thank you for taking the time to read, and have a great day.
Mary did get back to me, but fortunately/unfortunately, I had already found a job as an assistant designer. Last night, as I listened to Mary speak in such an honest and lovely way about our industry, I was so impressed by her appreciation for the craft of making clothes, her advice to "never fight with fabric" and her reminder to find the fun and pleasure in fashion as it is a tough industry full of hard work. When asked if she could name a defining moment in her career, Mary referenced emails she has received throughout her career from those who love her pieces - I am hoping she has the same email she did back in 2009, so I can send her this link. Mary, not only do I have a savings plan in place for the only bag I will ever need, but I really look up to you as a thinker, problem solver, designer and woman.