We had the good fortune of connecting with Grace Pei and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Grace, how do you think about risk?
To me personally, risk is something to look forward to. I am not a girl who can live with routine life, (not that I don’t think I should have, at least my mom does) I went to England to pursue my study at a very young age. I quickly learnt there are loads of interesting things and people I have never heard of and experienced of. Risk is considered as dangerous in my culture and we should try our best to avoid it. One of my mentors at University of Durham opened my eyes and told me how far a person can go if you follow your heart and spend all your time wisely and chase your dream. I started my career in Finance and Investment in the United Kingdom for four years before I moved to San Francisco. I quit my job and quickly moved to the U.S.A. in a month and could not wait to start new adventure. I was fortunately enough that a huge public company hired me immediately and I worked in the Finance team for over two years. Then I found my passion. I learnt sewing from scratch. For about a year and a half, I worked at my five days routine job and got promoted, interned at Jinza’s bridal stop on Saturday, and took my sewing lessons on Sunday. My teacher taught me traditional-couture way of making things, how to do alteration, and how to adjust patterns for different sizes. I quit my job and decided to fulfill my dream of starting my bridal adventure. My husband and I moved down to Los Angeles and opened the Jinza Bridal Los Angeles store. I learnt a lot more than I would ever imagined. I met a lot of people in the industry I would never have met for corporate jobs. I would say taking risk has played a very crucial role in my life and career so far. Multiple studies have found that people overestimate their ability to influence events that, in fact, are heavily determined by chance. We tend to be overconfident about the accuracy of our forecasts and risk assessments and far too narrow in our assessment of the range of outcomes that may occur. My personal strategy is to draw my diagram and discuss it loudly with my loved ones. What could be the worst outcome, can I accept the outcome? Being an entrepreneur is hard, you are always exploring new risks but comes with opportunity also. My experience has told me I can’t stop learning new things and exploring new opportunities, otherwise risk will come with competition and soon you will be out.
What should our readers know about your business?
I have recently visited a few bridal store owners and designers, who have been in this industry for many years. Each of them has something very special, but they all have something in common is that they all are so talented in an area that they have made a successful business in this industry. Jinza Bridal is special in the bridal market because we are one of the very few couture designers who can custom make dresses from scratch. Our fittings is to show you how we build our wedding dresses especially for you. We understand our fabrics, and how each fabric drapes on different body shape. This needs many years of hard working and experience. Sewing can be fun, but it could be boring and time pressured at some point. i still remembered I sit on my floor and sewed six hours non-stop by hand. So the answer is not easy. But I have to go through those hard moments to get knowledge that I have, you can’t just simply skip these steps and think you know everything. The good thing about me is I am very hard to get defeated. I can regroup myself and get going very quickly, thanks to my great family. To all of our clients, I can proudly say that at Jinza, we really care how you feel. We want to listen to your story and design or co-design a dress for or with you. And make sure you feel comfortable in it for your big day. We care about each of our client, we want every one of them when they walk out our door with their dresses, they look at their best, because they are wearing our name and we want our brides to tell others how happy they are to be a JINZA bride. The lessons I have learned along the way is to care. Care about your family, yourself, your clients, and client’s family. To make sure their voice has been heard. Every night, I always found myself exploring new options to ensure both bride and her family are all happy, sometimes it is just a small customization. Yes, we do spend a lot of time with our brides at the stores for fittings, on emails to discuss potential changes, and text messages / phone calls to listen to their concerns. We are happily to do all.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My best friend was supposed to come in Oct from England, but obviously it did not happen. I will show her Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and we will have brunch at Las Brias with a beautiful view. I will drive her along the highway to Monterey and Carmel to show the amazing view. We will go shopping at Melrose Place. Dries Van Noten just opened their door just near my store. ( I am going this weekend) Both of us are serious shoppers. We will cook big meals at home since she is on diet recently. We will go to Beverly Hills and dine at Nobu, visit Getty center.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are a lot of people that I need to say “thank you”. Without their support, I would never have achieved what I have done so far. My sewing teacher Amy, my partner Jinza, my family, Gina Raphel, Sara Well, University Synagogue and every single of my client. Especially the ones who have given me constructive advice, who have made me work harder and become better. Every January I sent out emails to apologize to clients who I believe I have not done a perfect job for them. Thanks for all their feedback, we can become better and better every year. I can set up a higher goal for myself and our store every year going forward. And lastly thanks to my black notebook, I wrote down all my mistakes that I made during this 6 and a half year journey.
Photographer: Klk Photography; Stella Yang Photography, Giuliana Covellaph Photography, Frances Heath Photography