#TrueCalling: Savina Chai

featuring photos shot/edited on the new Huawei P10, co-engineered with Leica.

Why do we do what we do? What is it that drives us, day after day, to pour our time, effort, and our heart and soul into the art, the beauty, the solutions and magic we create?

We pursue our dreams and chase them into our reality not because it is the most natural thing to do, or the easier way to live. Quite the contrary. It is hard work, dedication (sometimes to the point of obsession — do we see a few nods?), and many have described it to be a lonely journey. So why do we do what we do? Because, quite simply, when all is said and done, it gives us joy and feeds our life’s purpose. And hopefully, by doing what we do, we’d be spreading a little of that joy, and a little light to the people around us and, who knows, the rest of the world.

In a new seven-part series entitled #TrueCalling, we’ve partnered up with Huawei to bring you the stories of seven women — creators, doers and, yes, dreamers — to find out what makes them tick. How has whipping up a new recipe, designing clothes, or capturing moments from around the world, for example, brought them happiness? What interesting lessons, people and ideas have they encountered along the way? We’re going to give you a glimpse into their worlds through our lens.

This week, we caught up with Savina Chai, the fashion-forward founder and creative director of local fashion label Eight Slate. Soft-spoken as she may be, her Instagram account speaks volumes, loud and clear, of her creative prowess. Over coffee, coconut water and kale salad, the 22-year-old entrepreneur and self-confessed rebel — who has had a pretty good idea of what she wanted to be since she was 13 — inspired us with her grit, focus, indefatigable drive and a charming precociousness in her view on life and work. Can we just say, we love this girl!


When did you discover that you wanted to be a fashion designer?
Savina Chai:
I knew I wanted a career in fashion since I was 13. I didn’t know what it would be exactly, but I knew it had to do with creating my own label.

In order to materialise your dream of creating your own fashion brand, you have had to rebel against your family — which was quite the #Girlboss moment. Can you tell us more?
SC: I am quite the rebel, and I love a challenge. When there’s something I feel passionately about, there is no what if’s or leeway for anyone — including my family — to convince me of otherwise. After my graduation from Temasek Polytechnic (she studied Apparel Design and Merchandising, Retail and Visual Merchandising), I made up my mind to start my own label. When my dad found out I was going to trade university for a “pipe dream”, he was really upset with me. So I sent out applications to appease him. I was accepted by three institutions, but I chucked the letters and told my family I didn’t make it. I’d rather be brave and not allow the fear of failure stop me, than live with regrets for the rest of my life.

What keeps you going when things get tough?
My drive towards my work, my love towards fashion — I put 250% into everything I do.

Speaking from experience, do you think dreams are worth fighting for? Are they worth the sweat, the tears, the loneliness and everything that comes with?
Honestly, there were so many times when I questioned myself — what is it that I’m actually sacrificing for? What we entrepreneurs put ourselves through — the physical, emotional and mental challenges we face on a daily basis — can be quite overwhelming. However, I make it a point to remind myself that this is the life I chose, and I am very blessed and thankful for that. Dreams are worth fighting for. Just be sure to look back once in a while and encourage yourself with reminders of every little milestone achieved.

What has been the biggest lesson learned (that schools don’t teach you)?
The biggest lesson learnt was when I had my first investor — all the new experiences that came with it which I felt nobody or no lesson in school could have taught me or prepared me for it. From that, I grew to be stronger.

What and who inspire you?
Successful entrepreneurs inspires me — Emily Weiss of Glossier, Jack Ma, Victoria Beckham and Katherine Power of Who What Wear are a few of them.

What is your mantra or favourite quote?
If you’re out catching rabbits, instead of catching all eight of them, just focus and catch one rabbit.

What are your Golden Rules of creating?
Focus on what the customer wants and what suits them, and use your expertise in design to help find a great balance between what they want and what is aesthetically creative to you.

What in your opinion is the best and the worst part of being an artist/a creative?
I think the best part is that a creative job is one that runs reliant on passion and love so there is never a minute about work that feels like work. The worst part is that we are constantly thinking and creating, it gets overwhelming sometimes because we can’t just switch off.

This is the life I chose, and I am very blessed and thankful for that.

Dreams are worth fighting for. Just be sure to look back once in a while and encourage yourself with reminders of every little milestone achieved.

7 More Things You Need To Know About Savina

What’s the first thing you do when you open your eyes in the morning?
Check my phone! I know it’s such a bad habit.

And the last thing you do before you go to bed?
I take five minutes to express my gratefulness to whatever and whoever made my day great.

What’s the last movie you watched?
Fast & Furious.

Life is good when…
I am able to finish my exercise routine for the day.

Who’s your favourite designer, and what is one question you would ask him/her?
Phoebe Philo. “What’s in your bag?”

What’s your go-to outfit?
White T-shirt, flared jeans and boots.

Favourite spot to chill and be with yourself/get inspired?
Home. I’m a homebody especially since my whole week is jammed packed with meetings out and about.

SHOT ON  //  Huawei P10, co-engineered with Leica


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