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The CHIC Interview: Angelina Hu, the founder of the silk dress brand of the moment

The CHIC Interview: Angelina Hu, the founder of the silk dress brand of the moment

Silk Essence has become the silk dress brand of the moment  thanks to its ultra-feminine and elegant designs. We had the pleasure to chat with Angelina Hu – the founder and CEO of this incredible New York city based brand. Her experience of living in Beijing, Madrid and NYC and learning very distinct cultures, inspired her to create the brand that embodies where her roots are, yet spreading the message of self-acceptance and awareness.

CHIC: Tell me about your background and how you got started as a designer?

AH: I wouldn’t actually call myself a designer haha.  I know the fundamentals and I’m constantly learning. I was a finance major in college, went on for consulting in financial services for 3 years before getting my MBA. I was leading insights and strategy for a major women’s fashion retailer in New York while simultaneously building Silk Essence. That is where I found a technical designer who perfected the tech packs of my initial sketches for our capsule collection before they went into production.

 

Angelina Hu, Founder of Silk Essence
Angelina Hu, Founder of Silk Essence

CHIC: How did you start the journey with Silk Essence?

AH: I grew up in Beijing, China where my mother and I enjoyed visiting and shopping around the silk markets every Sunday. After realizing the extremely high mark ups in 100% silk fabric clothing and limited design options in the western market, I decided to create my own line. I used the second year of my business school to connect with the fashion network in New York to get insights and feedback from all aspects of making the brand into a reality – manufacturing, design, distribution, marketing – everything!

 CHIC: What was your main mission when creating the brand?

AH: Our mission is two folded. First and foremost is to make 100% silk clothing accessible to everyone, with approachable price tag, without compromising on the quality, design or authentic brand interaction experiences. In addition, we encourage our customers to embrace their authentic selves mentally and physically. Silk garments are known to flow with our body’s natural shapes and curves, and we make our pieces with all sustainable natural fabric and color dye.

CHIC: Can you tell us more about the production process? How do you source the silk for your products? 

AH: I went to MANY textile and fashion trade shows in New York before I had any idea of what I was doing. I would make up stories about me being a fabric sourcing specialist or CEO of Silk Essence (before It was even started) just so anyone would actually take me seriously and keep ongoing conversations with me haha. I eventually picked one manufacturer who was open-minded and generous enough to listen to my situation and vision, willing to give me smaller than usual minimum orders because he believed in my vision.

CHIC: What is the main philosophy behind the SilkEssence?

AH: While making our products, we embrace the nature of raw silk, cut the design following the fabric’s natural angle and only use natural color dyes. So our main philosophy is to encourage our customer to be the same when wearing our pieces – ‘embrace what makes you you, and never look back’.

CHIC: Who do you think about when you are designing? Who is the SilkEssence woman?

AH: She stays authentically confident and capable in everything she is and everything she sets her mind on achieving.

CHIC: Do you have any recommendations how to style your garments?

AH: Cute sandals and simple jewelry for summer/spring. Cozy sweater and elegant loafers for fall/winter.

CHIC: Where we can find silk essence line?

AH: Our official site: silkessence.co.

CHIC: How did you end up in NYC?

AH: My consulting job was based in NYC even though I traveled a lot that I could barely call it home. So I’d say going to Columbia University is when I truly got to call this magical place home.

CHIC: Did you find NYC the perfect place to launch your brand or is there too many competitions?

AH: Since we are still an e-commerce company, I do not think where we are based matters too much. In fact, I think being headquartered in NYC makes us more desirable and stand out more among other brands.

CHIC: Was the pandemic situation a step back on your project? If so how did you manage to keep going?

AH: Absolutely. I had to push the original launch date two months later because it just never felt right to launch an e-commerce brand during a global pandemic. But as I mentioned, I created Silk Essence for it to be more than a fashion line and I wanted it to embody its mission from day one. So I started selling our collection by donating 100% proceeds to River Fund New York in April 2020 before officially launching it in June 2020.

CHIC: On your website, we saw that you are donating 10% of all the proceeded orders to the chosen charity – it’s so thoughtful and kind. How did you came up with this idea and is there any criteria that you follow when you choose the charity each month?

AH: Because Silk Essence was born during such an uncertain time, and the great success and feedback from our River Fund New York donation made me realize this charitable element should be part of our operations beyond the month of April. So I decided to weave this into our brand and it has been one of the main reasons our customers choose us over others. We decide the charity based on the major current events happening around us so we can ensure we are contributing to what is most needed at the moment in our society. For example, we donated to NAACP (The National Association of the Advanced Colored People) in June 2020 following series of events happened including the death of George Floyd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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