Sophie, you are behind the dynamic social media content at Agora Curated. Still, you also are a creative and a marketing manager now at an AR company in Paris - can you tell us about your career in the creative industry and what brought you there, to begin with?
I studied languages and literature, and I started my professional career almost by accident in the IT industry in Shanghai as an account manager. At the time, I was also working another job in an art gallery. This experience and the contact with the creative world inspired me to take a gap year to study fashion design. I enjoyed immersing myself in pure creation and being a student again. I then worked in luxury events as a fashion consultant and stylist. I then moved to Singapore, where I had the opportunity to start a job in marketing in a real estate and hospitality group and then in an interior design firm. I would not say that it all happened by chance, but I took on opportunities based on the potential for growth and reinvention. And today, I am in Paris working in a company that does augmented reality - again, this is all new to me, which excites me the most. Of course, I continue to work on my digital painting about hybridity - being myself a byproduct of Asian and European cultures. I am looking forward to presenting you with a new series of work soon, so stay tuned!
When we met you more than two years ago, we had no doubt our combined skills would make the dream team. Tell us what inspired you to work with Agora Curated and what is it about the brand you relate to the most?
When I first heard about the project, I was so drawn to the vision of bringing women together around essential themes such as wellness and well-being in a way that is still light and approachable. What I love more about this platform is that it is all about sharing and collective effort. Thanks to Agora, people can discover new brands and products they would not necessarily find by themselves on separate sites. Beyond that, I genuinely enjoy working with inspiring two women. Despite the distance, we manage to find ways to communicate and share a lot on improving things and making them work.
Can you tell us about creativity, how you find it, and where?
To me, it all boils down to curiosity and imagination. Part of being creative is knowing how to put down your mental barriers and judgments to create brand new ideas. Observation rather than being in action is also crucial to creativity - at least in the incubation period before developing ideas and planning to execute them. To create excellent output, you need a lot of input. I consume a lot of content - be it books, articles, music, images or art. Social behaviour, cultural differences, or psychology are fields that I particularly like and always bring me lots of inspiration. When I am learning new things and putting myself into unknown environments also coincide with periods of creativity. The more diverse the sources of inspiration are, the more exciting mix-match of ideas you can get. Senses also, when they are stimulated, can become conduits for creativity. Beyond it all, I find that talking less and listening more is one of the most helpful ways to absorb and understand the world around you.
What is self-care about for you, and how does it translate into your life?
Self-care is really connected to self-love. You need to love and respect yourself to know when and how to tend to your needs. Caring for our physical, mental and emotional well-being is key to maintaining a healthy mind, body and soul. Like many people, this is not something you learn at school, though we should! I started being aware of the importance of self-care when I was overwhelmed with work and anxiety. I tried at the time Vipassana meditation, went for ten days to a centre to sit in silence every day and understand the art of meditation; this was a life-changer. This experience taught me we often are prisoners of our thoughts, and by practising mindfulness, we can detach ourselves from them and reconnect to a higher self. I have also been practising yoga for about 8 years now and whenever I am on the mat it feels like I am finding my home, my centre again. Yoga is a moving meditation; you move with your breath and learn about equanimity and self-regulation. Another way to practice self-care is to slow down and take some time and space just for me. I would treat myself with lots of pampering and things that bring me joy, such as food, reading a great book, watching movies, or travelling.
What does kindness mean to you?
I think kindness is underrated. It is sometimes seen as a weakness. Nowadays, it is almost a crime to be nice when being mindful of other people, being considerate, and understanding are powerful soft skills to navigate the world.
Find out more about Sophie Thi here.