Crystal Ung | THE MAKE

ON THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE MAKE...

I have a confession – I hate jeans. I know, what kind of person hates jeans? The kind who prefers to sit cross legged because her feet barely touch the ground when seated and who desires maximum freedom of the limbs on the daily. As a kid, my denim of choice was always overalls.  I liked the feeling of being free, particularly around the waistline. Fast forward a couple of decades to 2013.  While searching for comfortable pants that were appropriate for work, I still couldn’t find the right combination of quality, comfort and style. This frustration drove me to rethink what wardrobe essentials should look like and feel like. Garments that are as sensible as they are fashionable.

Simultaneously, I noticed that my peers were quickly ascending into leadership roles, and the question of what to wear to work was quickly becoming urgent and relevant. This trajectory, combined with the evolving definition of work, workplaces and dress codes, created ambiguity in a way that was new and stressful. The only emerging brands were quick to serve women who didn’t want to think about what to wear or didn’t have time to shop. But, as a woman who appreciated fashion, I believed dressing should be enjoyable as well as a way to express who we are as humans, and to project who we want to be as leaders.

All of this drove me to launching THE MAKE, a concept that, as you can probably tell, has been germinating for the past few years.  We are taking the best of activewear (luxury fabrics, four-way stretch, easy care) and merging it with refined yet playful designs via a direct to consumer model. 

We are reimagining “business casual,” drawing inspiration from the qualities of the self-made woman: purposeful, driven and rebellious. We are celebrating her individual journey of #makingmoves, empowering our current and future female leaders and allowing her to define for herself what work should be.  This is captured in our brand mantra, life is yours to MAKE, while our hope is to attract a community of #troublemakers so we can collectively defy convention, reshape conversations and encourage thoughtful consumption. 

ON HOW SHE BROUGHT HER VISION TO LIFE...

Once I had the idea, I immediately went to work – conducted market research, made prototypes, and dove into brand strategy. I’ve been lucky to collaborate with a collective of talented women (Theory, Nike, ManRepeller, and Refinery29 to name a few) who have contributed in different capacities to bring THE MAKE to life. Together, we contemplate the meaning of work, its place within our lives and how to dress accordingly. It has been energizing to work with such creative, talented humans that understand my vision and feel as inspired as me to bring THE MAKE into this world. 

ON THE MOST REWARDING PART OF LAUNCHING THE MAKE...

The most rewarding part has been seeing the excitement in women’s eyes when they either hear about the concept or try on the product. It has been absolutely thrilling to ideate with women and hear how much they want and need our garments. It truly has been a labor of love and a long road of uncertainty and ups and downs. I can’t wait to finally share with the world what I have been working on for so long!

THE ADVICE SHE WOULD GIVE HERSELF AT THE BEGINNING OF HER CAREER...

I would advise my younger self to enjoy the process – be thoughtful about what you are doing in the moment in order to extract the most joy in daily life and to always look for meaning or lessons along the way. Don’t get trapped in going through the motions and always ask, what did I learn and what do I want to learn? And most importantly, do not let others tell you what you can and cannot do – only you can determine that.

ON THE MOST UNEXPECTED ASPECT OF HER CAREER...

In the realm of work, I have done a lot of seemingly random and disconnected things in various industries but one thing remains consistent – I’m driven by curiosity. And like a true entrepreneur, I’m skilled at figuring things out.

ON WHO AND WHAT INSPIRES HER...

On a spiritual level, I’m inspired by philosophy. The different schools of thought offer broad frameworks through which one can view life. The interpretations and focus of each philosopher all touch on important elements of how we live or experience life. It’s like a how-to guide to achieve coveted things in life like fulfillment (Plato), becoming who we really are (Nietzche), happiness, and love. The rigorous work of contemplating the meaning of life produces wisdom that transcends time and invites readers to participate in reflection. In today’s chaotic, modern society making time to be still and to reflect are necessary and philosophy reminds us to do so. Like art, it changes us through the experience if it.

Also, as a child to immigrants, I am forever grateful and inspired by my family and in particular my father. His compassion, strength of character, and intense work ethic has been a source of motivation and inspiration in my life.  

ON THE ADVICE SHE’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH WOMEN WHO WANT TO CREATE CHANGE...

Change is the only constant in life and yet people can be quite resistant to it – don’t let this stop you. Progress is slow, but effort must be made. It is important to tune out negativity and stay true to what you believe in. Don’t make decisions based on fear but rather on hope. Remember that failure is a natural and necessary step in your journey.

ON WHAT SHE WANTS YOU TO REALLY KNOW ABOUT HER WORK...

Starting a business is hard work. It is unglamorous and can often leave you feeling defeated. For these reasons, it is important to cultivate kindness to yourself (and others) and to remember why you started.

ON WHAT GETS HER OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING AND WHAT WAKES HER UP AT NIGHT...

The thought of a fresh, new day gets me out of bed. Coffee helps too. As an insomniac, too many things keep me up at night!

ON WHAT BEING AN ENTREFEMMEUR MEANS TO HER...

Being an entrefemmeur (or what we like to call a troublemaker) means embracing radical optimism, relentlessly pursuing your purpose despite doubt from others, and being an advocate for other women. It’s about defining yourself and deciding to take a harder path because it is the truest expression of who you are. It means choosing to dismiss feeling misunderstood, accepting rejection as a part of the journey, and embracing the highs and lows; because as an entrefemmeur, you not only have ambition, you have grit.

To learn more about Crystal and THE MAKE, you can follow along on Instagram.


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