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FAST Interview: Ming Cong

In December I was honored to receive a personal invitation to UC Berkeley’s FAST Fall 2013 Runway Show. After witnessing this amazing group of students put together a fun, professional show, and get a peek at some truly exceptional collections, I knew that I wanted to get to know this group better.

I recently sat down the president of FAST, Ming Cong, to chat about fashion, Berkeley, and her plans for world domination. Kidding. Sort of.

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MCLV:   You’re studying Molecular & Cell Biology at UC Berkeley and had grown up planning to become a doctor – What first interested you in joining FAST? Why stay involved?

I discovered FAST when I was going through an emotional slump my freshman year. My sense of style was dead, I slept twice as much as I do now, and I was apathetic towards everything. I didn’t know what the rest of my life had in store. I felt safe pursuing a pre-medical route, but shortly realized that doing so was simply the easy way out.

Joining FAST gave me a chance to be creative and do something unusual, which was fun. At the encouragement of my roommate Grace, I started out as a designer. I sketched for weeks, covered my floor with pins (sorry, Grace), and stayed up till 3am sewing on a tiny Brother machine. Looking back, my first collection was absolutely terrible but I am glad I completed it. Afterwards, I kept designing because I felt the need to create a better collection to compensate for the previous collection. Eventually, I kept getting more and more involved with FAST until I considered changing career paths.

MCLV: Since you joined FAST you’ve become President, worked on increasing efficiency & streamlining the student-run organization, and you produced your first FAST Runway Show in December. What do you have planned for FAST during 2014?

My biggest plan is to expand our audience and increase our presence on the UC Berkeley campus. We sold about 275 tickets at the Fall 2013 show, which is our biggest audience to date. Just a year ago, we would get excited about selling 240.

I want to continue that expansion. I want young artists to know that there’s a creative outlet for them to design. I want FAST to be taken seriously as a legitimate platform for young artists to explore careers in the fashion industry.

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MCLV: You’re a junior at UC Berkeley now, what do you hope to accomplish before you graduate?

My biggest plan is to finish my bachelor’s degree, juggle a part-time job, manage FAST, and also find time to hangout with my crazy friends. Hopefully the MCB gods are merciful and my next string of biochemistry classes does not kick my butt.

MCLV: Your next big project for FAST is the Spring 2014 Runway Show – Is there anything you’d like to do differently than the Fall show? Anything you’re interested in improving on this time around?

Of course! There’s always room for improvement. I am definitely looking forward to producing the show at a different venue. At our last fashion show, we gave out standing room only to some ticket holders because we sold out. We did not have enough seats for everyone. Our audience is expanding and our venue needs to reflect that.

Additionally, I hope to obtain more sponsorships for our organization. I want to reach a point where financial limits no longer exist for our student designers because they truly are the most inspiring young artists. They deserve the best fabric, the best fashion show we can produce. (Please email fastcalpr@gmail.com if you are interested in sponsoring FAST!) Lastly, I would also love to produce a creative fashion film that introduces the conceptual theme of the show. As much as I love the administrative side of FAST, I miss creating art.

MCLV: What do you hope your FAST legacy will be after you leave Berkeley?

Hopefully just to keep inspiring people. FAST changed my life in a way that no professor or textbook ever could. Currently, I am training other executive board members so that when the time comes to pass the torch, the next generation will make FAST an even greater organization.

Ming.Cong.FAST.Black

{All images by Moja Ma’at}

MCLV: What’s your number one fashion-related goal right now?

Last week, I visited New York and met Tamara Mellon, the co-founder of Jimmy Choo, who gave me career advice and tips about breaking into the industry. She emphasized the importance of dedicating your first 6-7 years to learning the ropes of the business through internships and entry-level positions. Thus, my primary immediate goal is to complete a buying or marketing internship for a major fashion brand this summer. Hopefully that leads to employment opportunities down the line!

MCLV: What are your dreams and goals for your own career? Where in the fashion industry do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

My biggest dream is to be a fashion editor for Vogue someday (hit me up, Anna!). In 5 years, I see myself graduating from an MBA program, overworking myself a little, then eventually working as a Chief Creative Officer for a major brand like McQueen. I’ll probably live in a tiny New York apartment with a family of dogs and an all black wardrobe. I don’t foresee much sleep in my future, but I’ll be the happiest lady around.

Like I said – World domination is clearly in the works here. I’m very excited to have met this talented, driven young lady and can’t wait to see what she what she accomplishes next! If you’re interested in learning more about FAST {Fashion & Student Trends} you can visit their Facebook page here.

Stay tuned for more on the FAST Spring 2014 runway show and your chance to win a ticket to join me for the show!

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