I first met the amazing Julie D’Uva at a blogger brunch that I had organized with a few of the fun people I would tweet with in Toronto. Julie and I have kept in touch over the years as her PR career took her from Harry Rosen to Holt Renfrew and now overseas to Shanghai, China! I’ve always admired Julie’s work – online and in PR. Her incredible sense of style even landed her on Toronto’s Most Stylish list by Toronto Life Magazine. I was ecstatic to catch up with her and learn more about life abroad. Meet Julie!
What inspired you to launch your blog Seven Dollar Pants?
Back in the day, my friend Christine and I talked so much about our great shopping deals that we impressed each other and ourselves so we were inspired to start Seven Dollar Pants to share our shopping finds with our friends. Through the years it shifted, as Christine moved away from the city and I continued to blog on SDP more about travel and places to go.
Christine has her own blog fromchristine.com where you can see adorable pictures of her son. He’s too cute.
Moving to Shanghai was never in my life plan. It still doesn’t seem real. My man-friend was offered a sweet job and we both wanted to live and work abroad, so we decided to take the plunge. It wasn’t an easy decision to make such a drastic change, but I’m glad we did.
What’s the biggest surprise you’ve had while living in Shanghai so far?
Shanghai is the fastest growing city in the world and there are so many cool places to discover….but there’s still the old world intertwined within the new world. One minute you’re in front of a flashy row of luxury stores from Valentino, Gucci and Docle & Gabbana, and the next minute you’ll see a little old Chinese lady carrying baskets of chestnuts over her shoulders, a group of women line dancing on the street, and old men playing checkers in the park. It’s mind boggling to see.
What surprises me most is how easily I adjusted here. There are massive cultural differences, but there’s a friendly and familiar side as well. The thought of living in China before moving was absolutely unimaginable, but now that I’m here it doesn’t seem so strange anymore.
In addition to your blog, what sort of work are you doing now?
I’m working for a PR agency in Shanghai that specializes in Fashion and Art. It’s exciting seeing how things work on the other side of the world. Our clients are a lot of European luxury brands that are entering the China market for the first time.
How would you describe your personal style?
Comfortably dressed up. I like to be put together but with a relaxed vibe. Simple items like dark jeans, Converse shoes, a button down shirt, and a leather jacket. Jackets and shoes excite me the most.
Which affordable labels, lines, and websites do you swear by?
Joe Fresh, ZARA, and Forever 21 are my go-to places both online and in store. The trick is to look often and search the new arrivals, and you’re bound to find great pieces. I also like looking online at The Reformation, Shoe Market, Etsy, and Pinterest for inspiration. And in China there’s Taobao.com, which is an entire world of online retail. The possibilities are endless. You can search in English but the functions are in Chinese so I get my co-workers to help me. It’s a bit tricky.
What’s a typical day for you like?
I start my day by doing an at-home workout. I’ve become obsessed with the NTC app (Nike Training Club), it’s like having a personal trainer in the palm of your hand; I recommend it to everyone.
If I’m not at the office, I’m at client meetings around town, and on weekends I like to go to the various markets in Shanghai. Not the kind of market you’re picturing in your head (no fruit and vegetables stands in an outdoor space), I’m talking 5 story-high indoor markets that usually specialize in one genre….from the electronics market to the fabric market where you can get custom clothes made, to the sunglasses market. The list goes on and it’s always an experience. I also like to hit up different food stalls and restaurants. Chinese food is really good…..and really bad for you. Hence trying to stick to my NTC.
What is the single most important non-negotiable thing for you when designing your lifestyle and career?
I need to have balance in my life. Balance for me is working hard, enjoying what I do, and having the time to workout, be organized, see friends and family, and travel. It seems like a standard thing, but often times we get so wrapped up in the daily grind, and if one of these things is missing for me, I’m not a happy camper.
What do you do to de-stress?
I love getting into my Roots jogging pants and curling up with my iPad for a couple hours of Pinterest searching. (Nerd alert!) It puts me at ease and I get inspired looking at such pretty pictures. I also like going for Chinese massage. Here it’s cheaper than going for a mani/pedi back home and appointments are 1.5 hours…so it’s completely justified. Going this weekend!
Best piece of life advice to share?
Take a chance on something you didn’t think you would ever do. Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. Whether it’s taking a new job, quitting your job, travelling to a new part of the world, making new friends, or moving somewhere else. Expand your world, even if it seems scary. You’ll be thankful you did in the end. And, don’t care about what other people think…do what’s best for you.