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Girls of IG • Casey Zhang

by Alyssa Lau
Meet Casey Zhang (@caseyzhang), a creative jack of all trades who first caught our attention on Instagram (this is called Girls of IG, after all). We've spent more time than we'd like scrolling her extremely aesthetically-pleasing feed and would love to give her an intro she deserves, but she does a pretty good job of introducing herself (so there's not much work for us here). Anyway, keep on reading to discover how her attitude towards fashion has evolved, the greatest lessons she's learned as a freelancer, and what a typical day in the life looks like for her.
Who is Casey Zhang?
I was born in China and moved to the US with my family when I was four. I grew up mostly in the midwest and Texas before heading to Philadelphia after college and settling in NY about six years ago. I started my career managing social media at brands like Etsy, Glossier, and Urban Outfitters and I recently went freelance for the first time, doing a mix of art direction, social media/brand consulting, and photography. In my free time, I’m taking ballet classes and trying to get really good at ping pong.

Can you describe your personal style for us?
I have an evolving uniform. I’m usually drawn to a particular silhouette and it becomes all I want to wear until I get sick of it and find a new, slightly different silhouette. I prefer simple, classic pieces and I gravitate towards relaxed, oversized shapes. Comfort and function are really important to me so I’m usually in sneakers and pants.
Is the slow fashion movement important to you? If so, when did you first become interested in it and how has it affected your relationship with your clothing?
When I was younger, I coveted clothing. I loved thrifting and I loved going to the mall and I loved cutting up and sewing my own clothes. Now as an adult, I don’t really shop that much anymore. When I do, I like supporting small brands and my friends’ labels. I do sometimes splurge on pieces that I love, especially when it comes to outerwear. I love jackets and coats because they are like a uniform you throw on over whatever you’re wearing. Aside from that, I get a lot of clothes from my mom’s closet and sometimes my dad’s closet too.

How has your attitude towards fashion changed as you’ve aged?
Fashion and style has always been important to me. Growing up as an immigrant in the midwest where there wasn’t a lot of diversity, I often felt like an outsider and I used the way I dressed as a tool to shape my identity. In different phases of my life, it was a way to either fit in or stand out. Now as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown into my own style and have a pretty strong sense of what I like and don’t like.

What have been the greatest lessons you have learned since beginning your freelance career?
My freelance career only began about 9 months ago and I’ve learned so much already. There’s a level of uncertainty that you have to get comfortable with mentally. I worked full-time for 8 years before going freelance, so it’s an adjustment not expecting the same paycheck every two weeks. Balancing your time is also a big one. When you’re working full-time, there’s a lot of structure built into your week, but as a freelancer, you have to learn how to establish discipline into your own schedule.

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How are you sustainable in your day to day life? Do you have any sustainable goals you’re working towards?
When I worked at Etsy, no one had trash cans at their desk. Instead, we had these stations where everything was sorted for compost, recycling, and trash. You become very conscious of how much waste you’re producing when you have to walk away from your desk every time you need to dispose of something. I try to incorporate that awareness into my daily life now and I practice simple habits like avoiding plastic packaging at the grocery store and always carrying a water bottle.

What’s your dream project, person or brand to work?
I would love to do something that I don’t normally do—I’m trying to take more photos and would love to continue shooting. I’ve always wanted to design an interior space for someone. Or open a cafe of some sort.

Where are your favourite places to shop in New York? What are your favourite restaurants or coffee shops in New York?
Shops: Pas Mal, Anthom, Mociun. Coming Soon for home goods. The Break for second hand. I also recently discovered About Glamour, which is amazing for Japanese designer vintage. Restaurants: Lalito, Dimes, Goemon. Silver Rice is my seamless go-to. Coffee: Golda, Domicile

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Favourite cities to travel to and why you love visiting them?
After studying abroad in Hong Kong, I started this goal of visiting at least one new non-US city each year. It feels achievable and it’s a simple reminder to travel and experience a new culture each year. Tokyo is pretty hard to beat for design and food, but I have a lot more places to go still!

What makes you most excited about your work?
The fact that I get to do such a variety of work and that I get to collaborate with so many talented people! I love being able to team up with friends and to also meet friends through projects. It’s inspiring and humbling to get to work with so many passionate entrepreneurs and creatives—I’m constantly trying to absorb as much as I can from the people around me.

What does a typical day in the life look like for you?
My days vary a lot more than they used to when I was working full-time. Sometimes I work from home, sometimes I work from the offices of clients, and sometimes I’m working on set. I usually try to start each day by having coffee and listening to a podcast.

What are some of your favourite accounts to follow on Instagram?
Lately @oscarpiccolo and @lesliezhang1992. @casa_shop for vintage home goods. @dankartdirectormemes for lols. And a lot of puppy accounts. My explore page is all puppy videos.

@caseyzhang

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