Meet Sasha Mei, a Montreal-based creator whose minimal yet effortless sense of style immediately caught our eye and had us eagerly pressing the "follow" button. But that isn't all there is to Sasha. By her own words, she's "a creator, an avid reader, former dancer, oxford comma advocate, exercise addict, skincare junkie, fresh pasta maker, full-time PR lead, Instagram earthling, and a girl with not enough hours in the day" (something we can heavily relate to - the exercise part, maybe not so much). As fellow Canadians, we were so excited to chat with Sasha about her beginnings in fashion, where beauty and skincare products she swears by, what a typical day in her life looks like, and what her most cherished pieces in her wardrobe are.
For our first question, Sasha, can you describe style for us?
I like things that aren’t too complicated - reading enough interviews with people like Alexander Wang, who have even more packed days than me, allows me to conclude that simplicity in style compensates for my hectic lifestyle. I like things that aren’t too fussy, because I find they’re the most flattering on me. I wish I could be a maximalist, and sometimes I throw in fun prints or splashes of colour. Right now, I draw most of my personal styling inspiration from designers like Phoebe Philo, Daniel Lee, Elin Kling, and the Olsen twins. I love Scandinavian style, but I also admire a lot of the street style I see on the East Coast. It’s about balance.
At what point in your life did you really start to come into your own in terms of personal style, or do you still feel like you’re in transition or experimenting?
I think I only really started to feel more secure in my style this past summer. Of course, I say this in every point of my life, so this answer is a bit paradoxical, since that must mean I’m still experimenting and learning. I don’t think I subscribe to the notion of a fixed look - everything changes with time, so I suppose I’m learning as I’m going.
Can you tell us about your beginnings in fashion?
My mother worked in fashion marketing at GUESS in Malaysia back in the day. She has these amazing pieces from the 90’s that are still in great shape that she passed down to me. She really fostered my love for clothes, fashion, and magazines. I had about ten years of magazines archived in my childhood home, and recently had to go through the heartbreaking process of sorting through my favourite ones (it’s funny, when your parents become empty nesters, because everything. must. go.). Anyway, everything she picked out for me in terms of clothing and jewellery would be things I’d wear nonstop about six months later. She has taste. Fast forward to now, and I kind of used Instagram as an outlet to get my start in fashion and beauty. I am learning a lot about the industry just from navigating social media, and I think I’m really just getting started.
Where are your favourite places to shop and eat in Montreal?
If you’re in Montreal, you have to go to Les Étoffes, Ruse Boutique, and visit the SSENSE store in Old Montreal. If you’re an online shopper, @singuliermtl has great vintage finds. In terms of food, I have an extensive list that I really need to compile everywhere, but my favourite places are Kazu (Japanese izakaya), Larry’s (eclectic small dishes), Au Kouign-Amann (best Kouign Amann in the continent, I swear), and Kem Coba (Southeast Asian-inspired ice cream).
Your Instagram bio says you’re an exhausted overpacker. Can you tell us what are some of your packing essentials when you’re on-the-go?
I’m glad you noticed. The description came from one of those silly Buzzfeed things where you match your initials to words and it’s your new nickname or whatever - mine just happens to be super accurate. When I’m travelling, I always pack a blazer, jeans, a white t-shirt, and a full skincare routine. I invested in travel size bottles of all the products I use that I can keep refilling, so my toiletries bag(s) (hence the overpacking) is always ready to go in a flash. It sounds so extra, but sometimes there’s months where I’m always travelling, so having as much as I can ready really expedites the packing process.
What does a typical day in the life look like for you? I get up at 6am and ideally work out. If I’m taking a class, I’ll walk in the morning, or take outfit pictures while the light is out. Having a desk job all day makes it difficult to get moving, and I’m horrible at sitting still. I’m fidgety if I don’t exercise or do something creative, so this really helps. I get to work between 8:30-9, and work until between 5:30-6:30. After that, I go to an exercise class if I didn’t do that in the morning. At home, I cook dinner, answer emails, do more work for my job as a content creator, and usually finish around 10pm. After that I read, because it helps to quiet my mind before I sleep. I try go to sleep between 10:30-11, because by this point I’m exhausted! On weekends this completely switches up - I have more time to unwind and spend time with friends and family. What makes you excited about your work? What about frustrated? I love to create. I feel so blessed to have two jobs that are stimulating and provide such different experiences. I’m doing what I love, yet I still want to learn and am eager to develop and grow in my career. I get frustrated and conflicted by the environmental impact both my jobs have - I think about this every day. I also stress about trying to discover purpose in my work as a content creator. I don’t think I could ever just be a content creator - I need to ensure that what I’m doing is making a difference for someone or contributing something significant. Vanessa Hong talks about this a lot on her podcast “Vanessa Wants to Know” - I find it very interesting because I’m still struggling to harness the specific purpose in what I do. What are your favourite instagram accounts to follow? @nycbambi, @mvb, @sophiaroe, @olsenoracle, @evachen212, @styleandthebeach (for street style inspo), @chrissyteigen, @processvideo, @zoeisabellakravitz, @kellywearstler, and @designmilk.
What does sustainability mean to you in terms of your day-to-day life and the clothes you wear?
Make conscious choices. Buy less. Pay for quality. Be willing to ask people at the designer about their manufacturing process - I think transparency will be really important this year.
We love your approach to clothing - what are some of the most cherished pieces you have in your closet?
Oh there’s quite a few! I have this massive leather blazer that I found from L Train for USD$13, and I wear it endlessly. My Bottega Veneta Pouch is another treasured item - this bag marked a really special experience I had recently. Also, I have these two beautiful cheongsam style dresses that my mum sewed for me. They’re priceless - I’ll keep them forever.
Perhaps cliche, but who are three of your “style icons” and could you tell us why?
I’m going to count the Olsen twins as one unit here - they’re so effortless and put together, but their looks exude utter simplicity. It’s everything I want to be. Also, I love 90’s Gwyneth Paltrow because, well, it’s just so classic. I really can’t narrow down the options to a third person. Alexa Chung? Zoe Kravitz?
I’m a stereotypical Leo (sun sign), but I’m also a Scorpio rising and a cancer moon and I really don’t have any idea what that means!
Your idea of happiness?
Your health is your wealth.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Audrey Hepburn, of course.
What is your present state of mind?
Sleepy. It’s past my bedtime.
Bedside table books?
Always changing. Currently it’s Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, and The Devil’s Cup by Stewart Lee Allen. And my journal, which has, as of late, been severely neglected.
What is the strangest thing you believed in as a child?
Oh…if I didn’t lift my feet off the ground while sitting in a car that was passing through an intersection, something bad would happen. Random. I know.
Tea or coffee?
What item of clothing makes you feel most yourself?
An oversized blazer.
What’s one clothing item that never lets you down?
My trench coat.
What are you currently listening to? Or favourite show to binge on Netflix at the moment?
Kaytranada’s new album, and this artist called Potsu for when I need to relax.