At first glance she appears to be quite, you could even say sweet, but once she opens her mouth and speaks you realize quickly that you are dealing with a POWER-House.
Rongrong Devoe is a woman who is making waves in the fashion illustration industry and unapologetically creating a space for creatives to thrive.
You may be familiar with her work she’s been featured in the likes of Instyle, Vouge, and countless publications, I consider myself blessed to actual own a custom piece she created for Brunch and Slay. After relocating to Houston a little over two years ago due to her husbands job transfer Rongrong, decided to go at her dream full force. She launched her Etsy shop and never looked back.
Has drawing always been your passion?
“Yes, I started at 6, learning from my Dad, then went on to an art High School, and studied Graphic Design in college. It’s always been something I loved to do, and I’d planned to make it in to a career.”
How did you know?
“ I always wanted to be my own business owner, initially I wanted to study fashion design, become a designer, and own my own label but at the time in China fashion design was not an option. That’s what led me to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) to study fashion illustration.
Who did you work for after you graduated from FIT?
“I worked for a company, that designed private labels for Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Victoria Secret. We designed lingerie, and sleep ware for those types of companies.” “I would go into Victoria Secret and see my prints and designs. I still have a lot of samples to wear. One of the perks was that they gave us samples”.
After holding down such a cool position for over 3years Rongrong found herself and her new husband on a new adventure. Her husbands job transferred him to Houston, TX
After landing in Houston Mrs. Devoe decided that it was time to take a leap of faith and strike out on her own, something she’d dreamed of since childhood.
What are some of things you did to get started?
“First of all I started with an ETSY shop I put my art work out there, this gave me a lot of opportunities. It gave me exposure to more people. I started social media accounts and posted almost everyday with what I was working on and this gave me a new way to show my capabilities to potential clients. Some clients would find me and say I saw this post on your IG (Instagram) and we want to do something similar to this. Instagram was another portfolio for me.”
“I do things outside of my comfort zone, I know what I’m good at and what I’m not good at.” So I work accordingly
How did you initially get invites to fashion shows during New York Fashion Week? I’d hired an intern and had her write to all the PR agencies for the fashion shows and different designers to ask for an invitation, and ask if I could draw”
Once you got the invite what was your goal?
“I would go to the show and set up my art supplies and start to draw”
So you worked for free just to get your foot in the door? Yes, I did this collaboration with Maybelline they gave me a backstage pass and I used my social media channel to show what I was doing backstage, and since then we have been working on ongoing projects for 2 years. In order for people to pay you, you have to prove that you are worth the money.
When you transition form working for free with a company like Maybelline how do you revisit them and ask for money? Sometimes if they enjoy working with you a lot of big companies have budgets for creatives and will offer you paid opportunities without you having to say anything.
If that doesn’t happen how would you approach it?
Offer other ways to be paid, give me exposure post me on your social media channel, exchange gift cards, or store credit work your way up . It’s a slow process but I’m doing something that I love every project will lead me to another project.
What company was the first to call you first? Teen Vogue
What was that feeling like?
My first question was how did they find me (she chuckles) turns out they’d found me online my work appealed to them and their demographic. I was over the moon, I practiced every morning so that I could be my best.
It’s nice to know that someone like you who has had such major accomplishments in her field still practices her craft daily.
Do you still take classes?
Oh yeah I am constantly learning, one of my strengths is that I’m always curious and always learning while painting I listen to podcast.
What’s your favorite podcast?
Creative pep talk, and Jess Lively’s Live with Intention I’ve been following her for two years and I love her. I feel she is really inspiring it helps me to destress and have a fresh new prospective.
You were a newlywed when you moved to Houston. How do you find balance with all your travel and work demands? I’m really lucky my husband is. 100% supportive. We make sure at night we have at least 1 hour to talk and find out how our days have gone. He is my partner he is also a part of the business. We make sure we share in each others experiences.
What’s next for you?
I’m focused on creating a passive income… I have big goals I want to chase and at the same time I have thousands of pieces of art that have already been created. This year my focus it to licensure my art.
Any special projects here in Houston? I’m working on a barricade in The River Oaks District (you can now find this beautiful mural in the River Oaks District in Houston)
When will it be complete?
Our goal is to get it done before the Super Bowl
What advice would you give to young women just starting out in the their industry, trying to find there voices? Stop looking around just ask yourself what type of impact you want to make on the universe. Stop comparing yourself to others everybody has their own paths, focus on yours.
You can find out more about Rongrong and purchase art at http://www.rongrongdevoe.com