Jiawa Liu, lawyer turned blogger, influencer, photographer and creative director, is a true millennial with multiple traits. Eager to connect with her creative side, Liu started her side job as a blogger under the nickname Beige Renegade while practicing law. After a trip to Paris, she decided to step down from her legal position and move to the French capital, where she officially began her creative career by founding her digital production agency, Beige Pill Productions. Just four years later, the entrepreneur has built up an impressive client list including names like Valentino, Longchamp and Chanel.
“Inspiration and motivation cannot and should not be forced. Inspiration is an inconstant goddess. She comes and goes as she pleases – you just have to create the right conditions for her arrival, ”Liu tells us. “The secret to happiness and success is to dedicate your life to what you love. It may take a while to figure out what it is, but once you find it, go all out. Driven by inspiration, the multi-faceted artist hopes to build on her experiences and journey, and explore even more creative fields in the future.
Read on for our conversation with Liu on his creative journey.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background and where did your career start?
I am a Frenchie made in China, raised in Australia, living in the beautiful city of Paris. About four years ago, I decided to turn my life upside down by quitting my job as a contract and litigation lawyer in Perth, Australia, to continue my life as an influencer in France. One thing leading to another, I now run the production agency The Beige Pill. I also collaborate in the writing of several magazines while continuing to publish content on my social networks @beigerenegade and @minimalstreetstyle.
Why and how did you go from law to fashion and the creative industry? How did the transition from Australia to France go?
I think I did what most people from immigrant families growing up in Australia do: choose a practical degree that will lead to a practical career. But what I really wanted was to do something creative, so even though I worked throughout my degree and career like the real Sino-Australian girl, I didn’t couldn’t help but find little side stuff – artwork, music, games and then blogging.
Looking back, I really have to thank the banality of my daily work for pushing me to put so much energy into my secondary activities. After a few years of creating an online tracker, I started to see the potential of this job. The last kick I needed was when I traveled to Europe to attend fashion week for the first time. There, I was suddenly surrounded by fashion entrepreneurs. These amazing people, photographers, designers and stylists all lived the creative lifestyle that I grew up on. [to consider] reckless and irresponsible. Six months later, I had packed my life in Australia and moved into a small 25m² studio in central Paris.
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
The biggest challenge was definitely getting out of my own head. Although I have always viewed myself as an independent thinker, it is human nature to be swayed by people’s expectations. When all of my friends and family were doing responsible things in their lives and I was reassured every day that going into the legal profession was the smart and sane thing to do, it was so scary and unthinkable to choose a different path. Putting myself “in the shit (in the shit)”, as the French say, is what finally pushed me to commit to change. I quit my job unequivocally, so there was no turning back.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to change industry?
I would say the secret to happiness and success is to dedicate your life to what you love. It may take a while to figure out what it is, but once you find it, go all out. In the face of such a huge change in your life, your mind will try to annoy you with so many irrelevant excuses. “But I don’t speak the language. You will learn it. “But I won’t have any friends.” You will do them. “I won’t have enough money. You will find a way to survive. And if my story has to happen, it’s never too late.
How to stay inspired and motivated?
Inspiration and motivation cannot and should not be forced. Inspiration is an inconstant goddess. She comes and goes as she pleases, all you have to do is create the conditions for her arrival. She loves to give you good ideas when you’re in the shower, for example.
As for motivation, I don’t think it has anything to do with ideas of “will” or “discipline”. In fact, I think the will is a myth. The only thing that really motivates is hunger – metaphorically, of course. Someone who is hungry for a goal will work day and night. They don’t need to be motivated. For me, when I’m not feeling hungry, I just have to let it all go for a while. I call a friend and chat for hours, binge Netflix, play video games. And when that hunger returns, as it inevitably always does, I’ll come back to it like a possessed woman.
What has been one of the most exciting projects you’ve worked on with your production agency, The Beige Pill?
We’ve had the opportunity to create many exciting fashion campaigns and films for amazing brands from Valentino to Chanel, but my favorite project has to be our cover for Harper’s Bazaar The February issue of Singapore this year. Not only was this my first magazine cover, but we were given a little over a week to complete it. With so many other complicating factors, like most of Paris still on New Year’s holidays, COVID-19 restrictions preventing talent from traveling and places inaccessible, it was a truly mad rush that tested ingenuity. and the perseverance of my team to the end. And of course, having arrived as a complete outsider of the fashion industry just a few years ago, being asked to produce a cover for a magazine that I have respected for years has been the ultimate validation.
What are you most passionate about in fashion right now? Creators or brands that you are eyeing?
The movement towards a sustainable future is what excites me right now. For a while, I struggled to reconcile my choice of industry with the damage its production, supply and consumption processes do to the Earth. But I was delighted to see so many brands making huge paradigm shifts. LVMH’s new attitude, for example, of appointing Gabriela Hearst to Chloe for her shift in focus towards a fully sustainable brand, is a very important example that has been set to the rest of the industry. For the first time ever, I truly believe that real change can and will happen.
As a multi-faceted creative, how do you stay organized?
I would be lying if I said I was totally organized, but this is where I think my background in the legal industry gave me a great foundation. I use the same project management techniques that I used for the legal affairs that I conducted, as I do now for our projects. We use Asana to manage our workflows by project, we maintain an asset management database using Airtable, and we also have a team intranet where we are constantly developing procedural documents and templates. for everything we do. Running the administrative side of my business entirely in the cloud has also been very compatible with the way we work.
From writing to photography to creative direction, how did you acquire your skills?
I’m always curious to learn new things and try things firsthand, and I’ve learned a lot just getting involved, whether invited or not. The learning is endless. You can always expand and change your mind. For example, my current obsession is CGI. My team and I are experimenting with apps like Blender and Spark AR to create 3D elements for our content, including Instagram AR filters, which I’m particularly addicted to. It’s just about having fun and adding tools to your belt in the process.