Victoria Wong, Account Executive, Thom Browne: On Self-Awareness, Work – Life Balance in the Fashion Industry, & Her Mental Health Journey with Food

Victoria Wong 
Title: Account Executive, Thom Browne
Based in: New York
Age: 26

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1. In your words, who are you? 

Victoria: An extroverted introvert with creative tendencies and grandma habits… I am a curious and open-minded person, and love discovering new things whether that be through travel, art, fashion, food, and most recently, fitness! Maybe I am a slight enabler (ha…)… and I like to think I am a pretty optimistic person. 

2. Give us a day in your life.

Saturday.

I used to really hate Saturdays, having grown up with my Saturdays filled with Chinese School and piano lessons and tennis lessons and art lessons. Yes, I did grow up with a tiger mom. And I am also really bad at everything that I just mentioned. 

But I love Saturdays now. Especially within the past two years, I have found myself getting into a habit – a good one – of waking up early and giving myself ‘me’ time to do the things that I want to do, for example, reading through the entire series of Game of Thrones, practicing calligraphy, getting back into drawing, attempting to learn French… So I’ll usually spend the entire morning bring productive with my accountability partner, Susan, who so graciously keeps me on track. 

Saturday is also my day to catch up with friends, so I might grab lunch with some people around 1PM, maybe stop by an art gallery after, do some market research (read: window shopping / actually shopping), and if I’m really feeling up to it, I’ll try to work out and go for a long run through Central Park. Or even better, I might attempt to cook… like I said, grandma tendencies… : ) 

3. Describe your wellness regimen if you have one. What are some actions you take to keep yourself well (mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually)?

Victoria: I don’t really have a wellness regimen to be honest. I think for me, wellness is equivalent to having balance. Yin and Yang. You know, having a good work-life balance, having ‘me’ time and ‘friend’ time… Everything in moderation, I guess. I try not to look at emails after work, I try to work out at least once a week and get those endorphin boosts, and I try to self-reflect daily on how I can improve on things or attitude or whatever.

My mantra is to look forward, and to not dwell on the past or have any regrets. The past has already happened; you can’t change anything, and you can only move ahead. I think having this mindset has really helped me stay and focus on the positive, but also has made me more self-aware. And I think having self-awareness is also component of wellness.  

4.   Have you ever experienced a trough or growing point in your mental health thus far in your life?

Victoria: I have a weird relationship with food, and it’s an issue that I’m working on improving. It’s something I’ve struggled with since high school and I can admit, I have good days and bad days. Even now. I didn’t really talk about it with anyone at first; it was a little shameful you know? I mean, I still don’t really, but working on it and it’s helped. At the time, because I wasn’t eating, I was getting into a lot of fights with my family, becoming anti-social and overall, just unhappy with everything. I didn’t go out at all, didn’t see friends, and if I did, I would really beat myself up the next day about it. Opening up about my issue the first time really helped… I think talking about it made it real, and forced me to acknowledge and reflect on what was I doing to myself. 

5. How do you feel about talking about mental health? Is it something you comfortably talk about with friends or colleagues? If so, or if not? Why so or why not?

Victoria: I think it is important to talk about mental health and even more important to normalize it in daily conversation and life. We’ve become so used to hiding it from the public sphere that it’s become something negative and shameful, and as a result, it’s hard to get better and hard to achieve wellness in that sense. For me, sometimes saying this is easier than doing, especially when it’s about myself (read: this interview was a little difficult), but I think it’s necessary. It’s definitely something I’ll be working to improve on. 

6. As an individual who is very passionate about the fashion industry, does working in fashion tie closely with your idea of wellness? 

Victoria: Yes and no… I think a lot of people see working in fashion as being very glamorous and while there are truly some spectacular moments, 90% of it is working late hours, being on and available at all times… There’s always something going on, and especially in this retail-apocalypse, everything is urgent. I feel lucky now, but from my previous experiences, there wasn’t much of a work-life balance. There are companies that do realize this… and all the summer Fridays, the option to work from home, gym perks, etc. definitely help. 

7. Wellness and happiness – do you think they come hand in hand?

Victoria: 100% yes.  

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