“My whole family are very colourful and so I was very lucky to be brought up in that energy,” says creative director Lydia Pang. “Use your creativity first, find something that you care deeply about and one day someone will pay you to do it was kind of the mantra.”
Far from the offices of Nike, Refinery29 and M&C Saatchi, where she has established her career as a creative, Pang grew up in rural Wales. She was surrounded by creativity, her dad an artist, her mother a photographer and gallery owner, and her sister an author, doctor and neurodiversity activist. “Wales really has a feral nature to it. It’s not refined, it’s not chic, and I kind of love that. It just doesn’t give a fuck.” Although it wasn’t a particularly diverse area of the country (Pang is half-Chinese), it seemed to mirror the spirit of her Hakka heritage – a nomadic people in China who live on the fringes. “It’s like, ‘we’ll survive wherever, we’ll figure it out’ and that kind of spirit, interestingly, I felt sat hand in hand with Wales when I was growing up.”
Pang was always interested in storytelling, images, fashion and brands, but was “never ‘good’ at anything”. However, she was a grafter, traipsing around the country on a Megabus and squeezing in internships everywhere from newspapers to a modelling agency to PR firm Karla Otto.
Inspired by John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, she became fascinated by the frameworks around imagery and ended up studying history of art at the Courtauld. “For the first couple of years of my degree, I tried to wear multiple personalities and masquerade as different types of people. I wanted to feel fancy like all these girls that have drivers. I wanted to feel really knowledgeable and I took classes in the classics and Renaissance and manuscripts.” In reality, she felt out of her depth, however she realised her strength when the subject of brands came up on her course.