What Is The Biggest Thing You've Learned Along The Way?

With Eva Phan

Introduce yourself! Who are you?
I’m a former ballet dancer, turned blogger (www.eva-darling.com)fashion designer (www.evaphan.com), small business owner, and social media consultant. I also go to school at Parsons School of Design as a fashion design major and fashion communication minor.

What is one thing no one really knows about you?
Haha a good amount of my life is seen on the internet, so there isn’t much! Probably that I really love being on the water — I learned how to kayak and canoe really young and definitely don’t get to do either enough.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
To take every opportunity and just to go for it. I overthink everything and am in general way too self-conscious, so when I can just get out of my head and put things in motion without caring about what everyone else might say, that’s when things finally start taking off.

What would you say to 16 year old you?
You can be so much more than ballet. Ballet really defined me and was what people knew me for, so that’s all I really thought I had to offer for a really long time. There’s so much more to life than sitting in dance studios for 10 hours a day! I honestly think this applies to any teenager on a professional training track for a sport/activity.

What is your greatest fear?
Taking a risk and losing it all. Bad investments.

Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
Oh my gosh yes, to this day there’s always people doubting me! At the beginning it really bothered me and I actually hid my website and a good portion of my brands from basically everyone in my life including my parents because I was that scared of people making fun of me for it or receiving even more doubt. Now I’ve kind of just stopped caring and I snap back at anyone who feels the need to verbally express their doubt in me. I can’t say it’s the most ladylike thing to do, but when you’re working for yourself you really learn how to be your own  

What message do you think every woman should hear?
Don’t be a pushover. I think for women, or really any entrepreneur who has a vision that they want to execute, you’re not going to get there without being able to fight for it when faced with adversity (or the word “no.”)

What is your favorite thing about where you live?
I live in Manhattan and this city truly never stops running. Everyone is so driven and trying to get somewhere or do something. I always say that if you’re bored in New York City, you’re doing something wrong. There’s always something going on here.

What do you love most about yourself?
Haha I hate questions like this! I’ve honestly never really thought about it. Probably how I’ve managed to self-teach so much of what is now my job.

Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
The biggest time I overcame adversity was probably in middle and high school when I was bullied frequently and had to figure out who I am and find my identity. So much of who I am now is because of what I learned through that experience. I would never wish it upon anyone, but I had to learn how to stand up for myself and be independent, which is a huge part of my life today, and I’m thankful for that. Now the biggest challenge I face is that I’m typically the youngest person in the meeting (I’m 19).

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned along the way?
Being different will always be better than trying to be someone else. I tried to fit in during middle and high school and hated myself for it. Then I figured myself out, and a couples years ago I found myself in a rut with my blog and brand identity so I tried to change my brand aesthetic to fit into what I’d call the “preppy bright minimalist” approach that the popular bloggers within my niche were doing in an attempt to grow my audience. I hated my content more and more every day and when I finally started creating content how I wanted to, I was much happier and ended up getting better results. Be different, be unique, stand out. It’s the most cliché thing in the world, but I can’t stress how important it is, especially in the digital space.

Why do you love to travel?
I’m truly interested in learning how the world works and what each different place or culture has to offer. Every new culture, every new person, has a different perspective and a different method of thinking, and I find that so interesting. I think we don’t make the effort to understand the person we’re speaking to enough, so when I travel to a new place I make an effort to learn that language at least a little bit to help me understand the people and culture (literally). Language alone has a lot to teach us. Sometimes I just love travel for the thrill of it, sometimes I’m trying to run away from something. It really depends.

What motivates you most?
For blogging: The idea of being successful in something that allows me to travel and work for myself and connect with other people. I always say that I started Eva Darling to be like the best friend I wish I had when I was 14. Style, beauty, travel, advice, you name it. My content has definitely grown up from that as I’ve gotten older, but so has my audience.

For design: The possibility of being able to design the perfect dress or outfit for someone that they can look back on and remember a special moment. What we wear holds a lot of our memories and self-confidence. I’m motivated by the opportunity of being able to design a dress for someone that makes them feel amazing or that they’ll look back on and think of their favorite formal or the last first date they ever had, you get the idea.

How do you manage your work-life balance?
I don’t. I’m a complete workaholic and I’ve just come to terms with it.

What is your favorite meal?
Any sort of pasta.

What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
I’ve never once tried coffee. I operate on 3-4 hours of sleep a night on average and I don’t drink coffee.

If you weren’t doing the job you have now, what would you be doing?
I’m still in school, so probably just being a “normal” college kid who sees their friends a lot more often than I actually do.

What is something on your bucket list?
Going to Vietnam. That’s been #1 for as long as I can remember.

Have you ever had an extraordinary experience? Describe it!
(I definitely just had to text my mom to get her opinion on this question.) Off the top of my head, I can think of several experiences that I feel so unbelievably incredibly blessed to have had, but I don’t know if you all would consider them extraordinary. Just the moments like getting invited to and attending my first NYFW my senior year of high school or traveling to Paris completely alone as my first solo international trip for my first Paris Fashion Week. Both of those were extremely surreal trips for me and I never in a million years thought I would get those opportunities. It’s embarrassing, but the trip from NYC to Paris was so stressful that I finally just had to get out of the train station in Paris to call an Uber because I couldn’t figure out where I was going. I stepped out of the train station with all my luggage and the first thing I saw when I looked up were Galleries Lafayette and Printemps. I’d only ever seen them before on Pinterest and it was so surreal to me that I got a little teary after the stress of everything else.

Where do you find inspiration?
Vintage Dior. Christian Dior was a genius. Also @ofleatherandlace on Instagram. I’m obsessed with her feed.

What are your biggest passions?
Fashion, travel, the algorithms behind social media for growth and strategy (boring, I know), and learning new languages.

More About Eva

Eva Phan is the blogger behind Eva Darling, a style and travel blog bringing classic style with a trendy twist to millennials in an ever changing world. Eva’s originally from the Minneapple and now living in the Big Apple, but you can probably find her on a plane {because some cases of travel bug just can’t be cured}. When she’s not writing, Eva is a fashion designer, social media consultant, and Pinterest manager.

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