Ooops! Time sure flies by and I have completely missed my January blog deadline!?! What can I say, I guess I am not the best when it comes to blogging!! Unlike my good friend, Hilary! I must say she has a fantastic blog, full of the greatest and most updated fashion trends, yet with her own personal takes and input! Totally awesome and inspiring!
As for me, I have been, well guess what, one word: “busy”. In fact, its been crazy for me for the past month or so, as one has simply too many deadlines to meet before the holiday seasons come about, and now soon Chinese New Year! Welcome to the world of fashion! For those who are unfamiliar with our working calendars, we designers work at least one year ahead, which means we are about to finish up designing for our next autumn winter 2010 collection, which we shall be showing during Paris Fashion Week coming March…
And then, there is good news! We have been slaving and going crazy the past six months, and finally , our new online shopping website is ready soon (www.johannaho.com), with a bit of luck, it shall be up and running come mid February, with goodies from our Johanna Ho collection, and our new Johanna Ho eco collection, which are clothes made of recycled polyester fabrics and organic cotton-cashmere knitwear!
We also has a small ongoing collection of “clothes recycled”, which is using remnant yarns to make knits, and then using 2nd hand/vintage clothes that has been ‘donated’ to us through friends (who love and care for this planet too!!?) and we take these clothes apart and add these bits onto the knitted base. The outcome is still a fresh new piece but recreated with old/remnant pieces such as lace collars found from an old blouse before, or men’s shirts reworked and pleated and put onto our “new” knitted bases, which consist of easy to wear cardigans and crew neck pullovers.
It has always been a dream of mine, to do something to give back to our society, our world. As I realized how un-eco-friendly fashion business is, as it’s simply impossible to ask a woman to stop buying clothes!!? I am not trying to save the world here as I am simply a small and insignificant human being , but I guess, every little helps and if my 10 or 20% eco-effort can help move a little ripple in the water, hopefully it can gradually make bigger ripples to reach to more people’s awareness.
另外還有好消息！過去半年，我們進入超級忙碌的狀態，新的網上商店快將推出，www.johannaho.com，幸運地相信可以在2月中運作。網上商店會有Johanna Ho系列及我們新的Johanna Ho eco系列，這個新系列的服裝都由可循環再造的聚脂布料及有機棉與茄士咩針織料而造！
Like my first daughter, Nastasha,I had decided to breastfeed my 2nd daughter, Katrina, for at least 6 months. It’s been 7 months now since she was born, and I am now finally weaning off.
katrina at 3 months
katrina at 4 months
happy and healthy at 5 mths
6 months, first solids w spinach mixed w breast milk!
Breastfeeding is definitely not an easy task. Despite I had done it once, you would think the 2nd time round would be easier. I guess not! I guess not only that every woman’s body is different, but it also keeps changing. One good example is that, one’s first pregnancy maybe very easy but the 2nd one maybe quite different, owing to our hormones changes. I guess this applies the same to our breastfeeding experiences too.
For me, despite the fact that I was eating and drinking pretty much the same foods (and gallons of fish soup with papaya, supposed to be the key ingredients to increase milk supply), I didn’t have as much breastmilk as I would like to have compared to when I was breastfeeding my first daughter.
Like most mothers, I panicked and got worried whether my daughter was getting enough nutrients ( as I still strongly believe that mothers’ milk is still the best rather than formula). But the more I panicked and stressed, the less milk I was producing, and that was when I realised I needed to relax and simply chill. I decided not to fight with my body, but go easy on it. And in due course, I actually slept better, and because I was getting more quality sleep, my milk supply actually increased!
Another problem I had, was finding the right nursing bra. As a fashion designer, naturally I am quite fussy with my choices. However, it is almost impossible to find good comfortable bras that LOOKS great as well. Actually, my criteria was hardly tricky, I just wanted a bra that is comfortable to wear and looks nice. I also understand it is important to have good support, especially after giving birth second time round, nature plays its course meaning one feels the effect of gravity much more and things do tend to move downhill, just like breasts do sag if you don’t take of them well.
But that is quite a challenge too. Especially in Hong Kong. I realised not only very few shops carry maternity bras, and with ones that you find that are comfortable/practical, they often look like your grandmother’s bra, with cups so huge that they don’t look natural or they simply are unflattering. Lets just say that your husband will definitely find no sex appeal from you whatsoever, or simply, totally turned off.
Breastfeeding should be a beautiful thing. Just like pregnancy, it is something that we should feel great and proud of. It should be a magical experience and not seen as a chore. Which is why I think having nice nursing bras and lingerie is important, (not only for husbands sake), but mostly, for us, women, who has went through the trials and tribulations of pregnancy and childbirth, to feel good inside and outside of ourselves, to have confidence and love our bodies, whatever shape or sizes we are.
1) ELLE MACPHERSON INTIMATES, eternelle nursing bra:
my comments: my favourite and first choice, as the design is beautiful,as well as the fabrics and colours. It is sexy but not in an overt way. The fit is great, especially for asian smaller frames. Also very comfortable. Only thing is, it is not so cheap,slightly pricey, but I think it is totally worth it!
2) La Leche League International , no wire sport bra:
Nice cut and fit, very comfortable as it has no wiring (this is important as I find wiring can be very uncomfortable after wearing for a while). Also it is great for sporty types as it has the right amount of support for doing yoga to playing tennis!
3) La Leche League International,Sleep Bra with pullover wrap:
Highly recommend as it is important to have a comfortable bra to sleep in yet still has enough support. Totally serves its purpose!
All above recommendations can be found from a selection from the maternity website: ZODEE, which is originally from Australia but it also has a HK website with prices in HK dollars as well, and of course, they do deliever to HK, and quite quickly too usually within a few days to a week. Check out: www.zodee.com
1) ELLE MACPHERSON INTIMATES，哺乳胸圍：
2) La Leche League International，沒鐵線的運動胸圍：
3) La Leche League International，套頭式的睡覺胸圍：
I never really enjoyed studying when I was a kid at school. Never. I never listened to the teachers and was a rebel at class. Instead, I was always day dreaming and drawing on my text books till the school bell rings…
Despite my lazy efforts at school, I consider myself a very lucky child, as my parents have always been supportive and never gave me much pressure at school. My mother has always encouraged me to do my best but never expected me to get high, high grades. My father, a keen sportsman especially in tennis, has gotten me into playing at the tender age of 6, and it was in no time that I also fell in love with the game to the point I had the chance of representing Hong Kong in the National Junior Team. Playing tennis (or any sports) competitively, is indeed a great training, not only on the physical side, but more so, for mental discipline.
Another important fact of my growing up, was that my parents taught me to always believe that talent is a gift from God, but it is upto you that you make good use of one’s talent, meaning talent may come easy, but success is about hard work, being focused and disciplined.
Whilst my father was keen to train me to become the next Sharapova(!?!), my mother, meanwhile, also recognized my talent in drawing, and most of all, fashion, and she was quick to nuture that. She enrolled me in drawing as well as design classes, which I enjoyed tremendously.
And as time passed by, it is now my older daughter Natasha’s turn to start Kindergarten. Like most mothers’ first times, I found myself faced with the challenges of finding the right schools and disciplines that I would like my daughter to attend. And like all parents, you simply want the best for your child.
What is the best?? These days, I often hear parents about their kids’ schedules, and wow, they are like army training! They seem to think by learning and ( to me it’s more like cramming) everything under the sun is vital to get into perfect schools, and hence the perfect education…
As for my husband and I, we also want the best for our children, but to us, a good quality of life is more important. And this means, learning through playing and enjoyment. We decided that it is more vital that our kids grow up in a “normal” kids’ environment, meaning doing what kids do and not jumping huge steps and set up huge goals. We want pressure free zones for our children, and simply enjoy the process of growing up. To us, this means, spending quality time with them, playing games, reading books or simply doing what kids do: laugh and play.
It is indeed much easier said than done. Especially in this crazy, materialistic society nowadays. That is why more the reason we should give our kids more personal times together, and give them that unconditional love that no other form of education can surpass. I strongly believe that by doing this, it can help the child to develop a sense of self confidance, and most of all, a sense of individuality and personality.
It’s amazing how hugs and kisses and proper discipline used in the right balanced context, can go such a long long way. It certainly worked with us. So far so good I guess. Natasha is surely a happy child. Lets hope I can sustain this and not get polluted by the tough demands of our society /system nowadays. EQ is definitely more important than IQ these days. It is The way for survival.
儘管在學校很懶惰，但我覺得自己是一個幸運的小孩子，因為爸爸給我很多支持，從來都不給壓力，媽媽常鼓勵我要做到最好，但不會要我去爭取很高的分數。而爸爸呢，一個熱愛運動的人，尤其是網球，在我6歲時已帶我去玩這種活動了，令我深深愛上了網球，甚至有機會代表香港參加National Junior Team。事實上，有競爭性地去打網球（或任何運動）的確是很好的訓練，不只在體能方面，甚至是在修養方面。
When I was pregnant with my first baby and later found out that it was going to be a baby girl, a lot of people warned me that I would go crazy with buying her lots of clothes and dressing her up like my childhood Barbie doll.
And so I did! It was simply too hard to resist. The minute Natasha was born, I was hooked. And not only on clothes, but from the little gloves to the little socks and shoes (despite the fact she didn’t really need any until she learns to walk!??!)to the hair bands, bibs…and down to the very important baby bag.
It all started with the baby bag. And it was not an easy task, as I didn’t want just any baby bag. I wanted a cool one, one that is not cute and not pastel baby pink or baby blue. Finally, I found the ideal one: from Prada. It was in their signature black nylon, and it was light, water resistant and durable, and most of all, COOL. It had great compartments, a side pocket for a water/milk bottle, and it even came with a changing mat in matching black nylon. It was ideal, because on top of all things, the best part is that it is a cool and a no-gender black bag which my husband was very happy to carry around!
Then it came the clothes. Despite the fact that I love dressing my daughters, I was also not keen in turning her into a sweet little princess. I was more concerned in putting her in clothes that helped match her personality. And most of all, I wanted to dress her age, and not try to look too mature.
One of my favourite places to shop for my girls, is inevitably, Tokyo. Japanese parents are probably the best in dressing their babies and kids to look cute yet still very cool. And over time, I have learnt the art: it’s all about details. Japanese fashion has always been great in colours and layering. Some of my favourite shops include, Isetan department store, Seibu department store, and Baby Gap, as they stock rather different things compared to the rest of the world’s Gap stores. The Japanese department stores tend to sell rather expensive children’s clothes, but I usually go for their quirky accessories, like shoes, belts, hats, socks, hair clips, which are not as budget damaging than the clothes. American Apparel, has also been my all time favourite for cool, comfortable basics that are really funky. I especially like their leggings, from the polka dot ones to the shiny fabric ones. My daughter calls them her “disco” pants. I first discovered AA (what we short call for American Apparel) from Japan as they have shops in Tokyo, but soon later, I simply ordered them from their online website, which is great as their sizes and styles are more complete. The delivery charges are on the low side and one can always return them if they are not of the right size.
Shopping for kids are not the same as shopping for myself. It is important to find things which are not prickly and comfortable to the skin. Many parents tend to focus more on the outward aesthetics and overlook the importance of comfort as kids’ skin are a lot more sensitive. Hence other than looking for something cute and pretty to the naked eye, it is key to find things are equally comfortable and safe to wear!
American Apparel is a great example as they use very good quality fabric and can stand many washes. They do great basic tees from short to long sleeves and I sometimes buy them one size bigger for they can last longer, doubling as a long tee shirt dress to a simple tee for layering.
I thought I would never be a good mother. As a child I have always been the playful and dreamy one. So absent-minded with everything that my mother would say to me that if I one day have children of my own, I would leave them at a shop without realizing what I have done until I’m halfway home.
And then it all happened. And not only one, but I have two beautiful daughters, one two and half and a baby of two months. And it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It made me realize that there is life more than just work. They made my life complete.
So what is life like being a fashion designer, wife, and a mother of two kids?
It is like leading a double/triple life: one as a responsible working woman, the other, a caring and loving mother/wife. It is indeed an artform. For me, just like all working moms, it’s never an easy task, you need a lot of patience, time and lots and lots of positive energy!
I find it particularly tricky especially after my second child was born. Handling two is not quite the same as just one. Work sometimes can wait, but not children. They grow up so fast and before you know it, you have missed out on important phases of their lives and growing from a baby to a girl to a woman. Moreover, I simply love my work too much. I can never see myself quitting what I do, forever! In fact, I think it is important to work as I think my work gives me the drive and focus to live life to the fullest. As a result, I think it helps inspire my kids too.
I love my work because it is creative and that suits me great because I am a romantic and a dreamer. The business side of it balances me out too, as the realities of the fashion industry (the bitchiness and uglier and often MUCH less glamorous sides of it) shoots you right back down to planet earth. And when you have to run around with two kids and breast milk spilling everywhere, one also has to be creative in finding what to wear to avoid looking “momsy” /frumpy, and still look decent, and most of all, cool.
For me, looking cool AND comfortable is key. One would think it’s easy as there are so much to choose from these days. But it is exactly the fact that “anything goes” also means “everything doesn’t go”. There’s so much around, it’s not easy to find clothes that are comfortable AND looks good too.
For me, the main key is to be yourself. I try to keep things simple and not over-accessorize. If you are like me, whom I consider myself human, which also means, a post-natal body with still a good 20 pounds to lose and arms that flab and wave like flags when u say bye to your friends, it’s important to find things that has nice fit, and can help hide those “sins”. It is about discovering your body shape, adjusting to life as a working mom, prioritizing your time, and being happy and at ease with yourself. Most of all, understanding yourself your needs, and gain self confidence by living and eating healthy. Spend quality time with your kids, and similarly, have some time on your own and pamper yourself, and chill. Working moms can be cool too.
My older daughter Natasha, supermodel 2009！My “idol”and most inspiring fashion mom, Kate Moss.
My “idol”and most inspiring fashion mom, Kate Moss.
My “idol”and most inspiring fashion mom, Kate Moss.
My sketch of my favourite “look” of the moment that help hide my “sins”. My favourite Martin Margiela suit, jacket, pastel t-shirt, low crotch jersey pants and Johanna ho “heart” platforms.
那麼，究竟一個時裝設計師身份 + 太太 + 兩個孩子母親的生活是怎樣的呢？