Friday, 30 March 2018

How to create a unicorn

I love En Lazim. He is one of the nicest, kindest and sweetest gentlemen that you will ever meet. He is also the creator of a lot of the batik artworks for the SENI by Fit Rebel leggings. Here is a photo of him proudly displaying one of his latest artworks for our next collection, a fairy! He was so in love with this piece that he almost didn't want to hand it over to me after completion... but luckily he did!

After this piece, we discussed our next project, which was a unicorn inspired piece. My brief to En Lazim was as follows, "I want a majestic white unicorn. However, the highlight of this piece would be his hair, because I want his mane to be rainbow colored".

En Lazim nodded and got to work.

2 weeks later I showed up at his gallery and he proudly displayed his artwork as below:

I was stunned when I first laid eyes on his piece. To a certain extent, En Lazim totally nailed this piece. Here was a majestic white unicorn with gorgeous rainbow colored hair.

But... unfortunately he had crazy eyes and looked a bit too badass for my liking. In fact, this unicorn looked kinda scary. 😨

Wasn't quite sure how to react and I didn't want to upset En Lazim especially since he looked so happy and proud of this piece. I smiled and said the nicest thing I could, "His hair is gorgeous!!!".

I then left the gallery sweating. SHIT. What was I gonna do about this?

I frantically got in touch with the only person I knew who could save this, Illustrator Extraordinaire, Soefara Jafney

We both agreed that his hair is gorgeous but he was one scary looking unicorn.

"Don't worry. Can be fixed", said Sophie.

And relief spread through my body and soul.

With much care and love, Sophie made small adjustments and gave Mr. Unicorn kinder eyes.

I remember staying up (pretty much) all night admiring his kinder looking eyes and asking myself what else can be done to turn this piece from good to great. So I took a shot at editing this piece.

Here is my version below (pay attention to his mouth to see the difference).

When I finished making the edits, I remember taking a step back to just stop and look. It was almost as if Mr Unicorn was finally smiling at me. And I smiled back.

Finally crept into bed at 3am and woke up at 6am to prepare for a presentation that I had to give at OCBC Bank's belated International Women's Day celebration.

It was a great event which was organized by a bubbly and friendly bunch. The audience was awesome and the energy was extremely positive. I had a blast.

Me with Kok Lai Ching, Head of Human Resources of OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Berhad
 After the event was over, I got home and crashed.

Woke up the next morning and shared the edited unicorn with En Lazim. He loved it.

Later in the day I was emailing some of the ladies from OCBC Bank who attended my presentation and this email came in:

This is the best. thing. EVER!!! 😍

When you give good vibes, you get good vibes.

And that ladies and gentlemen is how you be awesome... and create a unicorn!


Sunday, 11 March 2018

Be Your Own Hero

Today's post won't be on entrepreneurial or fitness related matters, but a bit more personal.

Shariff and I celebrated our one year (dating) anniversary yesterday. We have been somewhat private about our relationship. He won't be overly thrilled that I am sharing his photo here, but he will understand...I think! (Or at least I hope 😋 !!!)

For the longest time ever, I have been unlucky in love. I was dating someone that I was deeply in love with when I was in college but I broke up with him after I graduated because I had to move back home to Malaysia and he was based in the USA. This was in 2004 when I was 23 years old. Since then, I have been having the worst luck when it comes to men and relationships.

I hit rock bottom in 2014. I was engaged to be married to my Brazilian fiance. I was living and working in Sao Paulo, Brazil for two years and during that time, I met and fell in love with Thiago.

Tragedy struck in 2012 when my father passed away suddenly. In 2013, I made the decision to move back to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Sao Paulo, Brazil to be closer to my grieving mom. Thiago and I have been dating for a year and I had prepared myself to tell him about my decision and the eventuality of ending out relationship when I had to finally move back.

When I broke the news to him, he took my breath away with his reaction when he got down on one knee and proposed to me. "I will follow you anywhere", he said.

I believed him.

We decided that it was best for me to go back to Malaysia first to settle in and spend time with my family before he came over. He also needed time to sort out work related matters and wanted to spend time with his family before the big move.

In mid-2013, I moved back to Malaysia. Thiago was to join me a year later. Everything was going fine and as the days went by, the time for him to move over to Malaysia became closer and closer.

One fine day, out of the blue, Thiago called me. He tearfully admitted that as time went by, the realization that he had to move over to Malaysia and to leave his family, friends, work and life in Brazil became more 'real'. He realized that he couldn't do it. "I'm sorry. It's off. The whole thing is off". And then he hung up and I never heard from him again.

I was completely devastated. I cried every day during the first month since hearing the news. I talked about this this in my TEDx Talk which I gave in December 2017. This talk also covers my recovery and how Fit Rebel came to be. You can watch the video below, if interested:

Once I bounced back and was my usual happy, bubbly self again, I got into another relationship. This relationship also only lasted one year and my failure to make it work broke me. Again.

One thing that you start to realized when the same pattern keeps repeating itself over and over again is that 'maybe it's something within me that needs to be examined and changed'.

A friend of mine suggested that I attend a 10-day silent meditation retreat to get away from it all, be still, dig deep, ask the right questions and sort myself out. And I did. I attended the 10-day Vipassana Meditation retreat.

This was one of the best things that I could have possibly done for myself at that time because I did exactly what I had to do:

Be Still
Dig Deep
Ask The Right Questions
Sort Myself Out

Since then, I realized many things about myself.

Because I was influenced by Disney cartoons, Hollywood, etc, I always felt like I wasn't enough and that I needed a man in my life to feel complete and happy. Whenever I was in a relationship, I expected my partner to make me happy. Like it was his responsibility.

It took me a while to realize that Jerry Mcguire's "You Complete Me" declaration shouldn't be taken too seriously when it comes to real life.

You are enough. And to expect someone else to make you happy is the most selfish and laziest thing a person could ever do because each person should be responsible for his or her own happiness.

I made the decision to work on myself. To find and do things that make me happy. To challenge myself. To grow into myself and find a path that fulfills me and makes me feel complete. And I did.

Getting to know yourself, being comfortable in your own skin, loving yourself and ultimately being happy by just knowing that you are enough isn't an easy journey. But it's worth it.

I recently came across this post and I could totally relate:

By the time I met Shariff, I promised that I would go into any new relationships with a different approach. That I wouldn't need my partner to make me happy or fulfilled because I can offer all those things to myself. But to help each other become better people and to bring out the best in each other.

And that is what this relationship has been like for the both of us. We could not be happier.

My journey was hard AF but I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm better and stronger because of it.

To everyone who is finding your way, trust the journey. Things will not always make sense at first. Life is unfair and can be hard, but keep on fighting the good fight and things will always turn around, sooner or later, one way or the other.

Monday, 5 March 2018

#OnceUponATime Collection

The upcoming collection has been one of the most challenging collections that I had to create so far.

In fact, it has been harder to create this collection compared to July 2017's 'Fantasy Collection' which was inspired by Game of Thrones. For that collection, we had some really imaginative pieces like a Dragon, Wolf, Raven, Weirwood tree (GOT fans would know this) and an abstract fire & ice (red & blue) piece. It took us foreverrr to come up with original, imaginative pieces that were inspired by that hit TV show.

The upcoming #OnceUponATime Collection is inspired by Disney Princesses and Popular Fables. Seems like we are taking longer than forever, due to the ambitious ideas that I have. The artworks that I wanted to create would be inspired by the following:
  • The Little Mermaid
  • Swan Lake
  • Tinkerbell
  • Rapunzel
  • The Last Unicorn
Since my batik artists managed to pull off a Game of Thrones inspired collection, I figured that they could pull off anything.

I was almost right. Kinda. Sorta. But not quite.

When we started designing for the #OnceUponATime Collection, our first few attempts weren't great.

Check out our very first mermaid sketch:

The Swan Lake piece wasn't great either.

I wasn't exactly thrilled with the results and figured that we needed to start over.

I decided to enlist the help of an old friend and extremely talented illustrator, Soefara Jafney.

There are no words in the dictionary that begins to describe this amazing young woman who produces jaw dropping artwork. Her passion is drawing girls. As soon as she was old enough to pick up a pencil and draw, she was the happiest and most creative when she was drawing girls. 

Check out some of Soefara Jafney's work below.

Here are her finished pieces:

Here are her doodles:

Crazy talented, isn't she?

With the help of Soefara, we got off to a new start for the #OnceUponATime collection. 

After weeks of trial and error (MANY errors, mind you!) we were finally nailing this collection.

Check out our Tinkerbell inspired piece below:

We seem to be hitting our stride and the Rapunzel piece which was just completed today looks really pretty too. We will not be revealing it today, muahaha! Stay tuned for moreeeeeeee!

For a peek at the collection of our art inspired leggings, click *HERE*