Caption: Jasmine's blog - Dress Me Blog Me
When it comes to fashion in Hong Kong, there's no person better to talk to than Jasmine Smith. Not only did she start the #HKFashionBloggers community, she has grown from being the top personal stylist and fashion blogger in town to now having her own brand - Raven + Rose. Just how did everything come together? We chatted to her about her career, family life, fashion mantras and must-haves.
From fashion blogger and stylist to a successful mumtrepreneur – was this all in the grand plan?
Indeed it was all in the grande plane for sure!
Now it wasn't all exactly laid out, I didn't have a precisely timed step-by-step 10 year plan – but I did consciously work towards these various roles and project in an organic manner – never forcing any of them, never side-stepping any of the responsibilities that came with wanting to do all of it either and always embracing the reality that there were many MANY stepping stones along the way that needed to be given due attention in order to reach the bigger roles.
How long did it take to turn Raven + Rose from concept to reality? What were some struggles you went through during the process?
I come from a fashion design background and always intended on returning to it, which meant the process towards RAVEN + ROSE was quite a natural progression.
Quite unceremoniously during my walk home from the office one day I thought “It's time”. Done – no big event or flash or inspiration – I just knew everything was aligned right to kick it off what ended up being a 1.5-year development process to launch RAVEN + ROSE.
Unfortunately during that first year I teamed up with a well known Hong Kong based 'Agent' who I ended up having to take to court – a court case I won, but a scenario I sincerely wouldn't wish on anyone.
Every mishap has a silver lining as they say and I did find mine!
The work I had produced during that time (website, product shots, editorial images etc...) was enough to get me a meeting with an incredible manufacturer who produces big name brands like Agent Provocateur, Elle McPherson, Stella McCartney – a meeting that wouldn't have happened without a huge portfolio of work!
I am now producing via this manufacturer – putting the quality of RAVEN + ROSE in line with the luxury lingerie brands of the world.Caption: Raven + Rose campaign image
Raven + Rose is definitely edgy. Do you think that goes against the usual mum image?
The story book image of a Mum is most definitely one that is NOT dressed in black, leather and soft-bondage bra's... But the RAVEN + ROSE Muma is a woman that can be found more often than you'd think. It's just people aren't usually looking and this modern, edgy woman isn't well represented. But she is most definitely out there – and on MASS!
What gave you the idea to start a lingerie brand rather than say a clothing line?
As a personal shopper, I worked very closely with women and their outfits from underwear to outerwear to accessories and I always put a lot of emphasis on the lingerie they wore as I believe it is the building block for any outfit.Lingerie is the layer that represents most accurately your mood, your aesthetics, your personality and attitude.
I also believe quite strongly in the female form. Its natural curves should be embellished as apposed to re-shaped into something that fits the stereotypical mold of what it means to be sexy.
Sexy is an attitude, not a pushed-up cleavage, and I wanted to bring this to the modern woman.
For me, it was never a debate – lingerie is what I'd always wanted to produce.
For the bustier girls, how can they rock the minimal style of lingerie? Will you be launching more styles for curvy girls who may need more support?
RAVEN + ROSE's 1st season spans from a very light weight bra (The Charlie) through to a well structured and super supportive bra (The Ash) – giving options to women who sport an AA cup through to a D cup.
The Gstrings and briefs are also very workable on a range of body shapes, meaning that the 'curvier' girl is looked after by RAVEN + ROSE, but perhaps simply not in the bulky straps, huge underwire-way they are used too.
RAVEN + ROSE breaks the rules and expects its customers to do likewise – no matter their shape or size.Caption: Raven + Rose collaboration with photographer Nicoline Aagesen
R+R is so much more than just a store – you also do a lot of collaborations with local creators. What sparked these projects?
As a stylist who has pulled on the creative skills of hairdressers, makeup artists, models & photographers, as a Blogger who collaborates and creates with brands and designers, and as a Muma who works side by side with a fantastic husband and extended family – I see collaboration in all forms of high importance.
Collaborations for me celebrate the wildly amazing creative talent in others that I'm surrounded by as well as expresses the RAVEN + ROSE attitude via different notions in an attempt to display the lifestyle that a RAVEN + ROSE customer is becoming a part of through wearing the lingerie.
When’s the next collection coming out? Will it be completely different from your first collection - Hoyden’s Choice?
I have an awesome TAYLOR line (a tank, a tee and a long sleeved top) being launched next month, followed by burst's of lingerie that will compliment, yet stand sexily by themselves as the second season.
The second season, coming later this year, is designed to be mixed and matched with the first.I'm a BIG fan of shopping in a conscience manner that allows for trans-seasonal wearing, so I will never limit my customer by making their purchases only last one season.
Now the 2nd collection is different – but still very recognizable as RAVEN + ROSE!
Let’s get a little personal. How does being an entrepreneur, a stylist and blogger fit into your life of also being a mother? Does it get overwhelming?
Hells YEAH my life get's overwhelming at times.But this is Hong Kong – who's life isn't complex in this overly demanding, fast paced city!?
I'm no stranger to multiple roles and jobs and have been multi-taking, finely tuning the time management of each day and practicing mindfulness (I used to simply call it 'chilling' hehe) for as long as I can remember.So it may sounds like I do a lot – but that is what I have always done and loved.
I have very strict systems in place that allow me to take on a lot in terms of work and I am just as strict when it comes to the time I spend each day with my daughter.No meeting is more important than her and I feel no shame in saying “no” to things that encroach on that family time.
I am very blessed to be able to take Isabella Zia on shoots, to meetings or events – she also comes in to my office on a daily basis – time together that is so precious and that I know very few Muma's get.My little Lady keeps me sane that way!
What’s one tip you’d give to budding entrepreneurs in Hong Kong?
Be a wonderfully large and luxurious visionary, but never underestimate the need to master the mundane!The simple task of being able to sew a button, budget your monthly MTR rides and reply to emails in a timely manner is JUST as important as building a glamorous empire.
Quick fire questions:
Favourite place to unwind in HK: Home
Best place to grab cocktails with your girlfriends in HK: Stocktons
Favourite brand for wardrobe basics: All Saints
Favourite brand for jewelry/accessories: APM Monaco
The pair of shoes you can’t live without: My very old, worn and loved flat black ankle boots from All Saints
The piece of clothing you’re in love with this season: My sheer silk maxi gown by local designer VINIGA
One beauty product you can call your holy-grail: Lady Danger (lipstick) by MAC Cosmetics
Best tip you got from your mama: Always lay out your clothing the night before – that way your morning will always be seamless and your day stylish.
Questions by Karen Chiang