There is no
doubt that when Sunny Woan created Taryn
Zhang, she was
targeting her consumer as the fierce, ambitious, and talented women of
the world working to achieve their respective goals. Sunny Woan,
whom I met on the "invite only" social network elixio.net, is one of
those people you meet in life that can do just about anything she puts
her mind to...except for math, which she playfully addresses "that
is a stereotype she wishes she could live up to." Her
sense of humor is a complement to her drive for success and is a key
ingredient to how and why she even started designing handbags.
Woan, a corporate attorney for a global investment firm, was
taking the California bar exam when her laptop broke in the middle of
the process. She decided to start doodling and found herself
drawing a handbag. Woan admits this was unusual for her, but
somehow one thing led to another and she made her decision...she was
going to be a handbag designer. When she told her husband about
her newly found dream she admits, "The husband was confused," (back to
her sense of humor), but inevitably jumped on board and they created
their first "baby," deciding on the name Taryn
The Taryn Zhang aesthetic
can be described as one of power mirrored with elegance. Woan
wanted to create a bag that did not lack in style, but was durable
enough to be waltzed from board room to board room carrying files,
laptops, and the plethora of other items today's working woman needs.
She emphasizes the fact that she wanted to remain true to a
woman's femininity without losing that ambiance of independence that
each if us deserve to project.
Sunny Woan's blog is
an aspiring designer's dream read allowing the reader to follow her
along in her journey of becoming a successful handbag designer.
You can find her musings on choosing color swatches to
her hilarious take on her own fashion illustration process. You
can even find her article/interview on us, which she entitles, Taryn Zhang Supports The Compassion Fashion
Project. Boy, does she! Woan offered, as we
were interviewing and researching each other's missions, to submit some
of her adorable fashion illustrations for our online boutique. I
was so touched by the gesture and the wonderful article she wrote about
us. One may ponder, "Why has Sunny Woan taken such an interest in
The CFP?" Well, I think she sums it up best in her own words:
violence against women is a mission near and dear to my heart.
Through the pro bono legal work I’ve done, I’ve represented women who
were survivors of domestic violence, rape, and sex slavery. I’ve sat
across the table from women who were the same age as me, who liked the
same silly things as me–cheesecake, puppies, Hello Kitty–but who
lived through horrors and endured pains I cannot begin to understand.
From the day one such woman decided she’d try to escape to the
actual date she succeeded at escaping, 10 years–10 years!–had passed.
Why? Because there wasn’t help or resources made
available to her. That is why what the Compassion Fashion Project
does is nothing short of heroism. They are making available the help
and resources that enable such women to get out of their horrific
Zhang handbags are animal-friendly and
cruelty-free by using high-quality microfiber vegan leather. The
company also maintains a "Pro Bono" policy ,offering
her customers a 10% discount by proving that they have performed at
least 5 hours of community service on behalf of a qualifying
non-profit. We, here at The Compassion Fashion Project, urge you
to go out and provide your volunteer services to your local domestic
violence shelter and then go shop for a unique Taryn
Zhang handbag to continue on your road to personal
Q.What made you
really want to switch careers from being a successful attorney to a
switched careers; that’s what’s tough! I’m juggling
two! I wake up at 6 am to work on my design aspirations, which my
husband and I internally refer to as Project Taryn Zhang. Then 9 to 5,
I’m working as the in-house lawyer for an international company.
Sometimes that work spills over, especially when there is a big case or
business deal pending, so then Project Taryn Zhang has to be put on the
back burner. Otherwise, typically when I return home, that is when I
communicate with my overseas manufacturer, work on designs, business
plans, do sales work, etc.
Woan busy at work.
Q. How has this transition worked out for
you and are you happy you made this decision and why?
I made the
decision to focus on myself and my own aspirations. If that
is selfish, then so be it. Most women my age are just starting to
balance a new family, possibly small children, with a career. That
seems to be the norm right now, and therefore the “correct” lifestyle
to pursue. As a consequence, I often get dinged for my decision to
balance two careers rather than one career and a baby. Make no mistake,
though, I am very fortunate. My husband supports me all the way.
Interestingly, it seems to be third parties outside the picture that
have all these opinions and judgments on how I should live my life.
Isn’t that usually the case with hecklers?
Q. What would you tell young women out
there who are healing from violent relationships?
There is no
one-size-fits-all way to heal. The general advice is to
find people who have similar experiences and to talk about what you
went through. That kind of advice doesn’t help everyone, however. For
example, I dealt with my past painful, unsavory situations through
creative writing and coped by throwing myself into organizational work,
social work, and projects I was passionate about. Striving to spend my
leisure time and energy meaningfully helped me heal. Personally, and
this is for me specifically, a group pow-wow would have made me more
miserable. So I guess if you’re introverted, try creative writing as an
outlet for expressing what you’ve gone through, and if you’re
extroverted, find a group of like-minded individuals and commiserate
together. Finally, once you’re strong enough, it might not be a bad
idea to get back into the ring and help others get out. Help by being
the guardian angel to other women that either you wish you had or were
fortunate enough to have.
P.S. I am assuming
from the question that the young woman is already
OUT of the violent relationship and is starting her healing process
from a safe and far distance. Otherwise, the first thing I would tell
her is to get out of the violent relationship!!!
Q. Do you have any professional legal
advice you can give young women out there who are in an abusive
relationship (such as take photos of their injuries for documentation
I am not a family
lawyer and have very little experience in this area of the law.
However, I did work on a few pro bono cases involving survivors of
domestic abuse. On a general note, always document what happened as
comprehensively as possible. You want a trail of evidence to support
your allegations. If you’re hurt, see a doctor immediately and get
examined, even if you think “it’s only a bruise” or “just a sprain.”
The doctor will furnish a report as part of her or his examination and
that report may become key evidence in future legal proceedings against
the perpetrator. Photographs, yes definitely, and date all photographs.
Also note who took the photographs, in the event the photographer needs
to become a witness to authenticate the photographs. Keep a regular
diary or journal, dated, to record everything that happens to you.
This, too, could someday become material evidence. You want to have as
much evidence as possible for building your case against the
If you want to
help the cause and make a difference in the lives of other battered
women, the best action you can take as a survivor is to report what
happened to the proper authorities. If you are presented with the
opportunity to take that person to court and make him answer for his
crime (I use the pronoun “him” here pursuant to overwhelming
statistics), then do it. Abusers continue to abuse because they think
they can get away with it and they are getting away with it because so
many women let them. Under reporting is one of this issue’s biggest
Most law schools
today have a public interest law clinic focused on women’s issues, so
if there is a university near where you live, find out whether there is
a women’s law clinic. These clinics usually have a wealth of resources
for you and may even be able to offer free legal advice. You can find
additional resources online via the National Women's Law Center and
WomensLaw.org. The American Bar Association also has some great links.
See: Resources for Survivors, American Bar Association.