Girl in the Purple Chiffon Dress

Growing up in Communist China as a little girl, my childhood memories were in shades of gray. I remember being made to feel utterly shameful for swirling around in my new pretty purple chiffon dress my mom sent me from America when I was 4, because I was being different, because I wore colors beyond the uniformed white and gray that billions of Chinese people faithfully donned as unofficial uniforms post-cultural revolution. It was an era where intellect, success, beauty and most of all nonconformity warranted harsh punishment such as prison time, physical and mental attack by the mass public, and even execution. My mom, who came from one of the most affluent families in Beijing, lost both her parents during this time. The red guards raided her home and took away millions worth of antiques, jewelry and heirlooms that are now displayed in museums around the city. She wanted badly to become a red guard herself and wanted to distance herself from my beautiful and glamorous grandmother who went to visit her at her college in her fur coat and pearl necklace. Gray became my mom’s favorite color.

I never met my maternal grandmother, but I’m told growing up that my rebellious streak and sense of fashion seem to be cross-generation inherited from her. Her favorite color was red.

I was drowning in the color of gray. I never felt like I belonged. The only companion I felt connected to was a human cat hybrid named mimi. I found solace in the endless books and music that took me away to worlds filled with colors. I created my own fairytales. I created an imaginative world where I flew freely in striking colors.

Fast-forward 20-some years. We went through a painful, challenging immigrant phase as a family, now living in the U.S. My family struggled tirelessly to obtain their version of the “American dream.” I remember being utterly lost in the process, I remember running from it all, running from the path that my soul felt an utter disconnect to.

I ran into the arms of romantic connections that took me on a whirlwind of experiences around the world. I remember seeing the colors of my childhood fairytales. My colorless, hollow soul began the process of its metamorphosis.

When I was finally called into adulthood as I entered my 30’s, when my family’s American dream was on the verge of collapse, I stepped in to help reverse the deterioration of our family business. Fresh from my years of travels and rebellion, somehow I felt chosen and driven in carving a way of doing business that I felt connected to. Against the protests of my family, my peers, I did things my way. Magic happened. The brewing of a socialistic-capitalistic entrepreneurial vision began.

Hudiefly’s vision evolved as I deepened my own life’s journey over the past couple of years. The ideal of the brand is driven by my innate need to feel authentic, to feel soulful, to be free while figuring out a way to maintain commercial success, which, at times seemed mutually exclusive. After over a year of struggling to find direction/identity to a seed that was planted in me as a little girl growing up in gray China, while juggling my other full-time business. Failing to find much resonance amongst my very conservative social circle, I put out a job ad on craigslist seeking people who I desperately needed to help me nurture and grow this vision. A whirlwind of meetings led me to forming an amazing team, composed of fashion designers, photographers, graphic designers, architects, musicians, carpenters, organic farmers, dancers, and dreamers who share the same urgent tingling to pave our own path, create our own aesthetics, and change the world we live in for the better while we are at it.

The vision came into full light. Collectively, our desire is to create a lifestyle/fashion brand that designs, creates and promotes what we crave, what we want to see more of in the world. We want to paint the colors of the rainbow in an otherwise graying world. We operate based on two fundamental values: One, we don’t produce items based on trend and will remain independent from what the popular culture expects of us. In fact, we will gently nudge, invite and even seduce them to steer towards a culture that we believe so vehemently in. Our designs are inspired by principles that are timeless, original and always with a dash of whimsy. Two, we want to master the delicate dance between true artistic expression and successful commercialism. We want to build a platform where we can collaborate with and support artists whose work we draw inspirations from and translate their artwork into commercially viable products. We work with graphic designers and photographers in designing fashion and home décor pieces that will enable their original artwork to become more consumer-accessible. We work with fashion designers and interior designers to create original pieces that we feel the need to see more of in the world and in our own living space and closet spaces (this summer, expect a lot of chiffon, tulle, floral and bejeweled hairpieces, bowties, suspenders and vintage, rustic home décor pieces). Instead of chasing seasonal trends, we will always focus on one theme each week we want to bring to life and allow our designers to interpret the theme through their very own unique vision. We will fund the entire design and creation process and split the proceeds with each designer. We want to nurture our “starving artists” so they can actually create art and not starve.

We will integrate music, organic and holistic living, spiritual and intellectual pursuits, and a super-charged socially responsible subculture into our lifestyle brand. We are a devoted eco-friendly company and will be as green as possible in our designs, production and overall business model. We want to nurture and support not just our very own Washington D.C.-based underground, counter-pop culture and indie community, but the united citizenship across the world. We aren’t joking when we say that our goal is to truly carve out a slice of a virtual and eventually physical utopian culture with our vision.

In the next several months, you will see an almost complete rebirth of our current Hudiefly site. We will replace roughly 85% of our current product offering with new, original and exclusive designs that will be in line with our vision. Our blog page will also consist of our musings, behind-the-scenes snapshots and profiles of all of our artistic team and partners to further present our vision and company culture. We want nothing more than to share this journey with as many people as possible who may find themselves echoing a similar sentiment, a similar ache, to embrace the little girl in the purple chiffon dress fighting for her right to shine in a gray and hostile world in all of us.

— Jasmine Zhou,
Creator and CEO,

Hudiefly: Hudie, [ syll. hu-die, hud-ie ] means butterfly in Mandarin Chinese.

“To become a butterfly… at last, crawling out of her warm and confining chrysalis, emerging into a new, bright, seemingly limitless space, spreading those striking, colorful wings, flying towards the light of the sun, freely, purposefully, joyfully… even if for just a brief moment, the metamorphosis is complete, she flies away, towards the light, towards her destiny…her destiny realized."

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