We had the pleasure of sitting down with Grace Pei, owner of JINZA's LA Boutique. We were fascinated by her intriguing journey to JINZA Couture Bridal. See below for our full Q&A session with Grace:
Did you always see yourself having a career in fashion?
Grace: I have always had a deep interest in fashion, but I grew up in a family of bankers and naturally studied Finance and Investment for both undergraduate and postgraduate in the UK. I pursued a profession in Accounting for 5 years after graduation.
How did your career in fashion develop?
Grace: I have always loved colors and fabrics. I had an online clothing store for over 5 years. In 2012, I married my husband after dating long distance between the UK and the US for 8 months. I wore a JINZA dress.
In 2013, I was going grocery shopping in Bryan’s in San Francisco and an old lady came to me and asked whether I made my dress. I laughed and said I always wanted to learn. She gave me her number and address, and asked me to visit her on a Wednesday to see whether I wanted to learn how to sew. She was a painter as well as a seamstress. She designed beautiful bedding sheets and pajamas and owned a bedding store when she was young. She said to me: “I know it might sound crazy, but I don’t know why I came to talk to you since it was my first time talking to a stranger in a grocery shop and asked you whether you want to be my student. I could see something in your eyes, the passion and the desire." She told me the most important sentence in my life, she said: “When you are ready for something new, God will send you a teacher to open a window for you, then your new journey will start.” It was like a dream came true for me.
In addition to being a full-time accountant Monday-Friday, I started to take sewing lessons twice a week from this Turkish lady. At the same time, I started working part time as Jinza’s assistant in her bridal salon in San Francisco. Since then, I've developed sewing skills and a deep understanding on how to manage different fabrics, tailoring, and styling. In 2014, I worked full time at Jinza’s salon and opened my own store in LA in 2015.
How have you combined the skills you have learned in accounting with the wedding industry?
Grace: My career change was a journey of finding my true self. I was always seeking for challenges and creativity, and here is where I landed my future. Working in a bridal store is very pleasant, I meet the happiest women in the world every day. Each of them is unique. They have unique taste and a unique story. I work with each bride to pick the right dress and listen to their concerns. I try my best to help each of them. My job is also very serious, because this dress is the most important dress in her life, therefore, it’s not about selling a dress, it's about seeking a true self.
My accounting profession taught me to do things in a perfect way. This was a blood in our brand. Jinza taught me to listen to our clients, ensure every needle and thread goes into the fabric perfectly. She always checks every single detail on a dress before the client’s final fitting to ensure everything looks perfect.
Once you come to my store, my job is to work with you to find your dress. We want to make your dress special, that’s why we provide customizations to add personality to the wedding dress to show your true self, and to make this dress YOUR dress.
What does fashion mean to you?
Grace: In my understanding, fashion, as well as bridal fashion always means “be yourself.” Finding your true self and your own style is always important. Clothes that you are wearing everyday and the bridal dress that you wore on your wedding day represents your personality, including the color, the fabric and the style you have chosen. Then you will look happy, confident and beautiful everyday.
How would you describe your personal style?
Grace: My style is “minimal and sharp." I like clothes with a single color or a simple color combination with an interesting shape. I am a crazy hat person too.
My favorite time in London were the days when I would spend my whole afternoon at Liberty London looking at the beautiful fabrics in the store, reading books and having afternoon tea with friends. I love reading, drinking tea, meeting new friends, sewing, traveling and playing with different coloring books.
Our LA Boutique is now open at 933 N La Cienega Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90069.