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Meet Joyphie, a talented fashion designer from China who grew up dreaming of making it in the ‘holy’ city of fashion: London. After a year of living there she realised it was not what she had expected. A new opportunity opened up and led her to Berlin. Life in the German capital has not always been easy, but it is here that she has found her identity and purpose.
How did you end up in Berlin?
Everything started with fashion. I grew up in China with a dream of becoming a fashion designer one day. London was like a ‘holy’ place for me, the ultimate destination for fashion. After a year of studying there, I discovered that it actually was not the right place for me; it just didn’t feel like home. I was thinking of leaving, but I didn’t want to go back to China. It would have felt like a step back, like giving up on pursuing a bigger life. Looking for universities in Europe I found a course in Berlin and ended up receiving a scholarship. I packed up my stuff and came here.
“I don’t think I really chose this city, but this city chose me.“
How has Berlin impacted you?
When I first arrived, it was quite difficult to find friends. In the fashion industry, people often have their tightly-knit groups and it’s hard to get in. After some time here, I hit the lowest point of my life and became physically sick. I had to go back to China. And there it was, the step back that I so diligently tried to avoid. While I was being treated there, my mum asked if I would come to church with her. It was not the first time she invited me, but I was always so convinced that I had it all together – and church was only for weak people. This time I agreed as I had nothing to lose.
How was this experience for you?
It sparked my curiosity and I was wondering if there is more to life. I started to ask myself some questions I hadn’t been confronted with. What was my purpose? What is family? What do I build my identity on? Back in Berlin, I started to look for a church. The moment I walked through those doors, I felt at home. That sense of home that I had never experienced since living abroad and that I subconsciously was looking for all this time without being able to articulate it. Getting to know the people who are part of that community was like finding another family. There was a ‘togetherness’ and care I had never experienced before. I realised church is not a building, but people. What blew me away was that the church always does a fashion show at Easter. But it wasn’t about the newest fashion or the coolest model – it was about telling a story. Ordinary people doing something amazing together. I could identify with this! Connecting fashion to a message of hope and redemption just made so much sense to me. I found myself getting involved and using my gift to invest into others.
Are you still dreaming of becoming a successful fashion designer?
This experience made my dream so much bigger. It is no longer just about me and my recognition but about helping others find out what they are passionate about. It doesn’t diminish my gift – it makes it even more useful and beautiful. I’m constantly trying to enlarge my horizon and learn new things. Just recently, I started to get more into UI and UX design. I want to use tech, sustainability and fashion to create platforms that provide people with opportunities to do what they were made to do, helping them realise their identity is not in what they wear or what they do. And who would have thought that Berlin is THE place to bring all of these topics together!
What does ‘unfinished story’ make you think of?
To me, my ‘unfinished story’ is a process and a journey of growth. I once had this idea of what my story would look like. From constantly striving for perfection, my perspective has changed to seeing life full of surprises, possibilities, adventures and wonder. Instead of ‘writing my biography’ on my own, my story is now part of a bigger story.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self?
It’s funny, because this was the point when I made an overnight decision to pursue my childhood dream of fashion (laughs). I’d tell my 16-year-old self that ‘even though your family will think you’re insane, it will be the best choice you will ever make’. You will encounter people in your life who will encourage, appreciate and celebrate you, and you will do something much bigger than you could have ever imagined.
Who inspires you and why?
Anyone who lives their dreams. Whoever dares to take risks and is up for an adventure. Anyone who does this with humility, resilience, perseverance and a sense of humour. These people inspire me a lot.Anyone who lives their dreams. Whoever dares to take risks and is up for an adventure.
What do you think Easter is all about?
Easter is really big for me. It means hope. It’s the understanding that yes, the past happened, but it does not have to determine what is to come. It’s the belief that I have a bright future ahead of me, and that I don’t have to strive for it on my own anymore.