What Building Sonderlier has Taught Me So Far

What Building Sonderlier has Taught Me So Far

If you have followed my brand story, you probably know that while my fashion has been a lifelong passion of mine and I’ve spent years developing a unique style, running a fashion business is a new world to me. From the start of this journey to now, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons that I thought you may find interesting.

The Fashion Industry is not always cutthroat

The fashion industry is often portrayed as this world full of back-stabbing… just watch The Devil Wears Prada. I’m sure that can be the case sometimes, just like in virtually any industry. But my experience so far has actually been quite the opposite. It’s just another industry full of people who want to make their dreams and aspirations a reality. While competition is definitely fierce, I’ve found that most people that I’ve talked to, men and women, are happy to talk to me and very generous in sharing their knowledge. I know I’m happy to do the same in return. Here I want to give a special shout out to the tribe of amazing fellow fashion-preneurs – StartUp Fashion, for being awesomely supportive, answering my questions, sharing resources, and offering to help.

Introvert is not an absolute term

I’m an introvert. Talking to strangers had always drained my energy, and talking about anything related to myself had always made me uncomfortable. In fact, I only post about once or twice a year to my personal social media. I guess I never really had the urge to tell people about what I’m doing or thinking. With Sonderlier, I’m sensing a shift. For the first time in my life, I’m having fun talking to people about my work. I have a deep desire to see women be more comfortable with our ambitions, live more freely, more mindfully, and shine in our beauty more effortlessly. Clothes are such an essential part of our life, so they should be able to truly support us. My deep belief in this mission has had an interesting effect on me. Almost without realizing it, I’ve found myself regularly talking to strangers, going to conferences, writing blog posts, and posting on social media. When you’re doing what you love, you change for the better. When you’re comfortable in what you wear, when it fits you instead of making you feel like you need to fit yourself into some mold, you go after the things you love. That’s what Sonderlier is to me.

It’s OK to not know the answer 

One of the most difficult things about being your own boss is that you face about ten thousand decisions a day. Which fabrics to use? Which design detail to include? Who to work with? The list goes on. It can be truly overwhelming and I don’t always know the answers. But I think when we are on our journey to be more and do more, we should also be mindful about setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves, whether it’s how much we should know or how well we should be able to do everything. As one of my mentors said, “Be patient. Don’t skip steps. Things will happen for you.” That was such a liberating idea. Sometimes the best way to get where we want to be is to accept not knowing the answer and trust that in time we’ll get there.

How you dress is important 

dress well

I know it may be a difficult concept for some of us that we “judge” people based on how they dress – I once struggled with the idea too. We might think it’s unfair. But as Kristi Hedges’ book The Power of Presence says, how you dress is very important not only in how other people see you, but also how you feel about yourself. And that doesn’t mean that people are shallow, it means that clothes and style are one of the ways we send messages about us inward and outward, just like words and facial expressions. When I was running around NYC all day for meetings with people I had never met before (things that totally make introverts like me anxious), I chose clothes that made me feel comfortable, myself, unrestricted, and confident. And let me tell you, that helped me tremendously in presenting myself in the way I wanted in my meetings. One of the people I met even commented that the way I dressed showed I was “clearly a put-together person.” I said something with my clothes, to the other person and to me. They also didn’t make me wince when I took them off at the end of the day or leave indents in my skin. That is what I believe great clothes should do for us. But clothes that accomplish all of that at once are far, far too rare. That’s why I started Sonderlier

This is only the beginning and I know there are going to be so many things I’ll keep learning. Sign up here to join my journey. 

Leave a comment below or send us an email to let us know what you would like to hear about. I would love to hear from you!


   - Xi


  • Xi Chen

    Thank you Alberto! :)

  • Alberto Costa

    Very inspiring, Xi. When I saw this website I was so happy. I knew you would have made it. Indeed, as you said this is just the beginning. Many more wonderful things are going to happen! Jia You!!!

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