We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Wu Fok and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
At the time I was working full time as a teacher. I needed a creative outlet that I could call my own and that would be separate from my 9-5 gig. Don’t get my wrong I loved my job, had the best boss in the world, and had amazing co-workers……but I was craving more. Since I was a kid, i’ve always been super creative and into making things. I 110% much rather be roaming the isles of Michaels, than on any sporting field (still to this day). As I became burnout and uninspired working full-time I starting doing the things that made me happy as a kid, which was creating and design. I actually interviewed for a design company that said “sorry you wasted your time” and gave off a mean girl you can’t sit with us vibe. Being a stubborn, yet passionate Taurus I don’t take no for an answer. So I started my own company Michelle Wu Design and vowed to treat others the way I want to be treated and never loose the teacher in me. I wanted to create a business where I can learn and grow myself and one day get to the point where I can teach others on a similar path. I landed my first gig creating a photo back-drop for a yoga studio out in LA that reached out through instagram….and the rest is history.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a conscious creator and designer, meaning everything I do is thought out and with purpose. I was once asked the question by a friend “what is it that you plan on doing that sets you apart from others?” and my answer has always been “Im not going to try to be different, I am just going to be myself”. I’ve always tried sticking to who I am and incorporating what I am passionate about already in life into my business. Sustainability, spirituality, being a teacher, and being a nice human being are a few things that have been important to me. So when I launched my design business it only made sense to me that I tried creating everything as eco friendly as possible (since events are extremely wasteful). I also sage/purify throughout the process and the things I create to welcome in good energy. I’ve always made it a point to be available and welcoming to others who are on the same path as me. One of my favorite things is getting to collaborate with other talented individuals and sharing any knowledge I learn with others. I think being myself, learning to pivot, and not sticking to any sort of rule book have been the biggest lessons so far. I had just left my full time job to focus solely on my event and design business and then COVID19 happened. ALL EVENTS of any kind were completely OFF THE TABLE…for who knows how long. I started getting really anxious and putting positive affirmations on bright neon sticky notes all over my house. The designer and perfectionist in me thought I could create something that would be more ascetically pleasing and that people could benefit from as well. I then launched my business The Mirror Mantras, which are positive affirmation stickers for your mirror, laptop, water bottle, and more. My intention behind it is to uplift people during a very strange and uncertain time as we all experience a worldwide pandemic. I am most excited about learning, growing, and pivoting even more. I feel like I have so much to learn still and that in itself is exciting and something to look forward to.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve been in San Diego for almost 10 years and there is still so much I haven’t seen or experienced. It has amazing beaches, food, craft beer, hotels, hikes, nature, city life, and basically everything you could ever wish for. I would definitely take my friends on a food tour and explore different areas of San Diego. La Jolla, Del Mar, Encinitas, Ocean Beach: A few of my favorite beach towns. Liberty Station: Historic, one of a kind, and has something for everyone. They are also always adding new things to it. Coronado Island: To get away and feel like you’re in a different part of San Diego (Literally). Also, to check out the famous Hotel Del. Balboa Park: I could spend hours here people watching, going to museums, and checking out the architecture. San Diego Zoo: Top 10 in the world and because who doesn’t like enjoying a cold beer. while learning about animals. Convoy St: An amazing variety of different asian foods. Best Korean BBQ and Dim Sum in San Diego. Cowles Mountain, Torrey Pines, Los Penasquitos Canyon, and Mission Trails for a good hike. and can’t forget about old town, seaport village, the seals in La Jolla, Belmont Park….the list goes on.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family, close group of friends, and expanders…as I like to call them. My parents have always been super supportive of my happiness and have sprinkled in a dose of reality along the way. My older brother Jason, who is actually a designer himself out in New York, has been through it all, and always gives great advice. Michelle S, my first instagram friend who is an event and floral designer in LA. The day we “met” she sent me a 4 page PDF on how to build an install and her personal cell phone number. To this day, she has hired me on for some of the most beautiful events I’ve ever been apart of and has always offered support to me along my journey. My co-teacher and close friend Ina, who I worked with during my time as a teacher. She always supported my dreams of leaving our 9-5 job to start my own business….even if it meant leaving her alone without a co-teacher and with a classroom full of kids. Ina is literally the kindest soul I have ever met. My old boss Kristy AKA The BEST boss in the world! After working under her for almost 3 years, I will never settle for a boss who doesn’t treat people the way Kristy does. She is one of the most supportive, down to earth, and funniest bosses I know! Kristy encourages her employees to take the leap and go after their dreams. Always reminding us that we have to go after what makes us happy and to “Go have fun!”. My best friend of almost 10 years, Ava. She is always pushing me to be my best and holding me accountable. We’ve been through many stages throughout our friendship and Ava has always offered her support (even from across the world and in a different time zone). and many many more inspiring people, books, podcasts, and experiences have helped me get to where I am today and where I am going next.
Alexa Gray & Co. Photography. Mae and Minh Photography.