Risen to Prominence: The Inspirational Journey of an Outstanding Chinese Designer He Liu in the Global Arena
(Liu’s website design “GREY LAB”)
Author: Stephanie Ciotti
For job seekers, the year 2020 onwards has presented an immense challenge. Fresh graduates have had to face the impacts of the pandemic, including isolation, lockdowns, company closures, and widespread layoffs. The crisis has undoubtedly affected job markets worldwide. However, even amidst these pressures, remarkable individuals have managed to stand out in their respective fields. Today, we have the privilege of sharing the extraordinary career journey of one such Chinese elite designer who fearlessly ventured into the American design industry, establishing herself as a prominent figure within a span of three challenging years.
(Designer He Liu)
Introducing He Liu, a remarkable talent who, “at the age of 29, assumed the position of lead Designer at 2.7 August Apparel Inc, a highly competitive fashion firm based in Los Angeles. 2.7 August Apparel Inc encompasses multiple brands, including OBJECTRARE, endless rose, GREY LAB, and ENGLISH FACTORY.”
In just two years, He Liu led her team independently, successfully creating and enhancing the websites and online stores for these various brands.
For He Liu, this journey was a process of gradual accumulation. Starting with limited work experience in the United States, she faced significant challenges in establishing herself as a reliable and talented designer within the company. Her professional skills and abilities were tested, and her patience and perseverance were honed during this period. Liu graduated from the “Academy of Art University in San Francisco. The San Francisco Bay Area is renowned as a hub of technology.”
However, her passion for fashion led her to leave behind a comfortable life and seek opportunities in Los Angeles, where she believed there were more avenues for growth. After numerous interviews in both cities, she finally achieved her goal of entering the Los Angeles fashion industry.
Over the course of three years, Liu’s career progressed rapidly and smoothly, garnering the admiration of her boss and colleagues alike. Her success in overcoming the challenges of working in a foreign country and avoiding potential pitfalls was not solely due to luck; it was primarily a result of finding a balance between her own values and those of the company. When she first joined the company, Liu was somewhat reserved, being the only Chinese employee and facing language and work style barriers. However, being driven by ambition, she preferred challenges over a comfortable routine. Liu seized every opportunity to showcase her abilities, yet she understood that displaying talent alone was not a wise choice. Every successful designer in the workplace possesses a form of “cleverness.” The difference lies in how they define “cleverness” and what they choose to do with it.
She shared, “Luck has certainly played a role in my journey. I was fortunate enough to have encountered a boss who entrusted me with significant design tasks and opportunities for growth. On my first day, he told me, ‘I want a capable brand designer, not just a graphic designer focused on banners.’ He had ambitious ideals and firmly believed in everyone’s immense potential. For many designers who have recently graduated without significant background experience in the United States, having the fortune to join a company that values talent is a fertile ground for personal growth and advancement. Of course, I possessed exceptional design skills and a brand-oriented mindset, which were the keys to our alignment in values. In addition to completing the assigned tasks, self-learning played a significant role in the workplace. Asking questions, actively participating, and effective communication – language was never a barrier. If we couldn’t communicate through words, we would sketch, and if that wasn’t clear, we would discuss further. Having a thick skin is a fundamental principle. Cultural differences and language barriers were just excusing for me.”
(Liu’s website design “GREY LAB”)
After delivering exceptional results in multiple assignments assigned by her boss, Liu finally faced her first major challenge: leading her team in creating the website for the company’s flagship brand, GREY LAB. The website creation process was long and arduous. The fashion industry, particularly in a fashion-forward city like Los Angeles, constantly evolves, making it a tremendous challenge to design a brand website that can compete effectively. Fashion websites have become key platforms for brand promotion and interaction. When designing a fashion website, various aspects such as user experience, brand image, and visual effects must be carefully considered to achieve optimal design results. To gain a deeper understanding of GREY LAB, Liu extensively engaged with the brand’s creator and fashion designers to understand the brand’s origins, design philosophy, and future aspirations. She analyzed the changing consumer preferences, income levels, consumption habits, and lifestyle patterns of the target audience. Furthermore, she thoroughly investigated GREY LAB’s market shifts in recent years. This preparatory work enabled the team to design user experiences and establish online brand identities that resonated with the target demographic. Of course, a visually appealing website requires strong visual support. The team meticulously selected colors, fonts, layouts, and navigational elements from a pool of over 100 available options, testing and refining until the final choices emerged. Liu then embarked on the design of the website templates. However, at this stage, an unexpected challenge arose when her boss tasked her with completing the website launch within a month. Designing and developing a website from visual design to completion in such a tight timeframe posed a significant challenge. The team had to reassess and abandon some ideas and functionalities that required excessive time and effort, striving to meet the boss’s expectations as much as possible. After discussing the pros and cons with her boss, Liu successfully negotiated for more time for the team.
A workplace tip: If you receive an impossible task, it is essential to communicate promptly with your superiors and advocate for your rights. Of course, these rights must be beneficial and necessary for the company. After two mentally exhausting months, the website was successfully launched in February 2022, garnering over a hundred orders on the first day. Following the successful launch of the initial brand website, He Liu led her team to achieve equally impressive results by launching three more brand websites over the course of two and a half years. The brands gained recognition from major companies such as Shopbop and Macy’s, leading to collaboration opportunities. Additionally, one of the websites she designed for the brand “endless rose” received international acclaim, winning the Vega Awards for Best Fashion Website Design and Best Visual Design in the International Aesthetic Awards. Notably, the competition included renowned luxury brands such as Givenchy.
He Liu acknowledges that she considers herself fortunate to have had such experiences. While the process may not have always been smooth, she is grateful for having persevered. The road ahead is still long, and for her, the current success, albeit remarkable, is only the beginning. Looking to the future, she aspires to contribute even more to the design industry. Let us eagerly anticipate witnessing Liu’s future remarkable works and captivating stories unfold.