Hey Han! First things first- can you tell us a little bit about why you started English Exile?
I started blogging back in 2009 in my first year of university. I studied English so writing has always been my sole motivation for blogging really. Even before the trend for pretty pictures kicked in, which really saw the popularity of blogging soar, I was writing old school blog posts. I began with a Tumblr blog where I would write social observation pieces and I never posted any pictures! Obviously my blogging style has changed with the times but I still like to think that the writing is the focus of my posts and not the photos.
You packed up and moved to Hong Kong last year. How does the blogging community differ out there to how it is in the UK?
It’s an entirely different world. The percentage of people likely to have an English language blog is obviously smaller here. Although the expat community is big, there’s more chance of getting noticed. I’d say it’s definitely easier to carve an online presence for yourself as a blogger in Hong Kong.
You‘re quite the traveller, do the places you visit have an impact on your style?
Of course! I wouldn’t say I have a uniformed style. I often change my style quite considerably depending where I am. In February I was in Indonesia visiting the colourful Batik factories and so was inspired into wearing bright and patterned, baggy pants. In Malaysia last year I purchased a traditional Malaysian embroidered skirt that I’ll probably only ever wear on holiday. Yet when I’m at home in Hong Kong you’ll rarely find me in anything but high-waisted jeans and a crop top.
Fashion is so transient. You have to be flexible to new trends, influences, and trying news things because you’ll never find that exact style of shirt again in a few months.
Who, what or where would you say is your biggest style influence?
The year I spent studying in Spain in 2011 has definitely been my biggest style influence. My penchant for anything Zara spawned from living in Spain and it also gave me my more laid back vibe. This was partly due to the weather, and partly due to the fact I never had anywhere to be other than a date with the beach. I started the year with a wardrobe of tailored blazers and high heels, and left with a wardrobe of maxi dresses and flip-flops and never looked back! I haven’t worn a pair of heels since my graduation 10 months ago (ain’t nobody got the patience for those!).
If you could shop with anyone, past or present, who would it be?
Edie Sedgwick. I’ve always adored her minimalist and understated style since the first time I saw Sienna Miller portray her in Factory Girl. Animal print and winged eyeliner are two of my all-time, favourite looks too – so I think we would get on! Her style is timeless and still relevant now 50 years on.
What’s the best piece of career/blogging advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t write for anybody other than yourself.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It’s spectacularly unglamorous. At the moment I work for a NGO as my day job. I’m up at 6am everyday and spend most of my time in a secondary school as an English teacher. After work I’m usually meeting up with friends and trying out new restaurants, or rooting through the rails in Monki. In the summer months you can find me at the beach or struggling to hike up a hill in inappropriate clothing.
Finally- what’s your biggest fashion disaster?
That would have to be the entire 18th year of my life. Too much visible skin and too much make-up do not do anything for anyone.