Tell us about Cukimber, how has it evolved over the years?
Cukimber started as my hobby in 2009 when I was living and working in rural Japan. I have always needed creative outlets and jewelry seemed to be the thing I focused on. After I moved to Shanghai in 2011, I decided to take the plunge with my jewelry at the first Design Art Fashion Fair. I picked up traction throughout the years in retail shops like Madame Mao’s Dowry. However it took a major backseat since I’ve been working in F&B and interior design, but in the last 1.5 years I’ve been painting whenever I could, first just for fun, until the paintings took a life of their own. It overflowed into fabrics, and in turn has helped me fulfil one of my dreams – to be a fashion designer. I’m about to launch my first collection.
Your designs are quite bold. Where does that creativity and confidence come from?
The paintings and designs are totally from my actual dreams. It comes from a place that’s not totally conscious. I just feel what is natural to me, and I just do it. What I know is what has worked for me pretty well thus far, and that is to finish and churn out something whether it is perfect or not, and to just keep going. I’m not scared to make mistakes, as long as I keep on getting up to try again and learn more.
You describe yourself as a 'do-er', what steps do you take each day to make sure you're getting closer to your goals?
I try my best to execute goals for myself in different parts of my life, and try to set them up in 3 month sprints. I tie them to values that I live by, and since I am pretty clear as to what those are, I do my best to stick to them. It’s a matter of constantly sticking to the hard work, resting, and recharging so I can dream some more.
Your other passion is for healthy food. Can you tell us about the work you've done?
Oh wow. To talk about my love of healthy food and a healthy lifestyle would pretty much take up an entire book. I worked on opening chains of healthy restaurants throughout China, as well as with many wellness/fitness brands and nonprofits like JUCCCE A New Way to Eat. I got to see a commercial organic vegetable farm, teach kids what eating a rainbow meant, and was always around talented and passionate people. I know that no one can do the hard work of changing from unhealthy to healthy without others helping, or support along the way. Such a privilege to have been able to work on such a worthy cause as that!
Do you see design and healthy food as two separate passions, or are you able to combine them in some way?
They are similar in the way that you always need to think outside the box to create new ideas, no matter what the industry is. They are also similar that you have to make sure people understand your story and soul behind the project. Knowing the WHY is important not just for yourself, but future clients or partners will also feel it. I don’t actually see too much of a big difference myself, other than now I have to learn more technical information about clothing construction!
I did already start to combine them even with my clothing line launch – I have collaborated with Athenaeum (on the third floor of Xintiandi Plaza) to design a cake around my artwork. I am excited to eat that!
You're about to launch your own clothing line, can you tell us a little about that?
I am pretty stressed…and excited. My parents are coming from the States, and I have friends coming from New York, Tokyo, and Beijing. It’s a big deal and amazing opportunity I just couldn’t turn down. I am going to have a first floor pop up shop in Xintiandi Plaza, right next to Jason Wu, the incredibly talented and established designer! I laugh when I think about that, because I could have never imagined that this could have happened to me someday. Admittedly, I really want the move-in date to just come already so I can stop waking up in the middle of the night worrying that I haven’t ordered a poster or a button!
It seems like you live your life by following your passions, would you recommend others do the same?
I don’t really know any other way to live. It works superbly for me, but I know that not everyone has figured out what it is they want to do to make their mark in the world. I would say this: Just try ANYTHING, actually do it, and then try something else! You just never know.
If you would like to find out more about Cukimber you can find them at: