An Eye for Style was first published in Eye.D Magazine on October 8, 2007.
Don’t cha wish you had a job like Sheng? Don’t cha wish you get to work with some of the hottest fashion designers, photographers and celebrities in the industry like Sheng? Don’t cha wish you get to work with the Pussycat Dolls? Don’t cha? From a small-town girl in Tennessee to a singer to one of the many Pussycat Dolls fashion stylist, image consultant and wardrobe assistant, Sheng Moua is flying high, drinking champagne and living life in the fast lane in Hollywood.
Growing up, her parents had told her countless stories of how they survived their migration from Laos to Thailand and were nearly killed in the process. Before coming to a new world, before Moua’s family fled Laos, the Moua family was separated for a brief time when Moua was just a babe in her mother’s arms. Traveling by foot, her mother journeyed from Laos to Thailand. Moua informs Eye.D about what her mother has gone through. Moua’s mother was holding onto to her in her arms and had fallen into a swamp lake slowly drowning. Moua continues to express how her mother still recalls her panic of never having to see her husband again. With that in mind, her mother’s survival instinct kicked in and was able to grab a hold onto a branch where she found the strength to pull both of them out of the swamp. With the crises passed, they were able to make it safely into Thailand where they were once reunited with Moua’s father.
“I live every day of my life not only for myself but for my parents. They are true survivors and the light at the end of my tunnel. Their stories they shared and what they endured to get me to America is something T hold near and dear to my heart. I strive to be a good daughter because I am truly blessed to be here today talking to you. We were very fortunate to have made it here alive.” -Moua
In 1976, a Lutheran Church in Tennessee sponsored Sheng Moua and her family to America. The transition upon arriving in America was difficult for Sheng’s parents grew up in Laos, where they speak no English and has no knowledge of the latest modern technologies. Although Moua was born in Laos, she was raised in American schools and adapted very well as every other Hmong Americans. In a quest to find who she was as a Hmong American. She moved away packing her bags and left for college, where she finally found her true identity. While at college she met her husband Nu Prince Xiong. He was a freshman in college and she was a sophomore. They were as different as night and day but felt they complimented each other in the best ways and embraced each other’s uniqueness.
My husband has truly made a difference in my life by being there through every step of the way. – Moua said.
The singer in Sheng:
Before Sheng left for college in 1992 she attended a conference in California in a church. The churches wanted one person from each youth group to sing at the conference. The person from Sheng’s church who was selected to sing, opted out at the last minute so Sheng sang in her place. Paul Lo, the lead singer of High Voltage, which is a rock indie Hmong band, who happened to be in the audience while Sheng made her singing debut. Paul was the one who made Sheng the music to sing at the conference. Paul approached her after the performance and asked her to sing at his concert in Fresno that year.
In 1992, the song “lb Sim Neej” which can be interpreted as “One Life” became an instant hit where Moua became a guest singer for High Voltage regularly. Moua has also appeared with TNT, which stands for Toua, Neng and Thong. They are three brothers who came together to produce and distribute music. They released two CDs, which Sheng was featured in ”Nyob deb los thov nco” and “Yau los mam tos”, also in line was in a Christian Album “Yexus Hlub” with XF Varn Muas Xiong. It no longer performs, nor have they come out with any other albums after.
I am so blessed to have so many people support me and still am so devoted to my music and following my career till this day. I would love to meet all my fans because they are the ones who keep me going. -Moua
In 1995, she released her own self-titled album featuring the song “Ua lb Siab” and toured around the states with Voltage. Her fame became a worldwide cultural phenomenon within the Hmong community. Lo and Moua were invited to appear as guest performers specifically for the song alone! Concerts were always sold out. Voltage was so popular that everyone just assumed Moua was a part of the band.
She was told on several occasions that she had one of the strongest and unique voices during the lb Sim Neej era. She was soon featured in Hmong Magazine, Hmong Teen Magazine, other local Hmong publications, newsletters, and her music was played on radio stations in California, Wisconsin, and Minnesota reaching across international borders into Thailand, Laos, and Paris. Today, with many new talented emerging Hmong artists, Moua is proud of being a part of the Hmong Music Industry in her days.
Not only does she sing she’s a Hmong Traditional dancing choreographer. She’s been dancing since the age of seven, taught her first group at the age of twelve. She has taken her dance group to many different levels, including dancing for former President George Bush and first lady Barbara Bush. Unfortunately, no photos were taken for it was not allowed.
The Fashion Image Consultant in Sheng:
I am a child of the 80s’, therefore, I truly rocked the 80’s new wave style. Instead of the people around me embracing my 80’s fashion, they labeled me as a thug. I may have been different on the outside, but I was always me. I always knew that I wanted to be different. I just didn’t know it was because I was just trying to express my love of fashion. -Moua
Moua had always been interested in fashion but was just too weary about it until now.
Watching T.V. and flipping through magazines as a teenager. Sheng had been wrapped up in a corporate environment for nine years and was tired of the job. She had doubted going into the fashion industry. Where would she start? Can she make it in a dog eat dog world?
Moua had Aidan already and thought about how she wanted her child to grow up … to grow up doing what he loves, knowing he has his parents support and encouragement. That’s when she left the corporate world to do what she loved.
The only thing she knew about the fashion industry was Runway Modeling. She had some interest in being a model but knew she was too short, so she took classes on Personal Development instead. Her purpose was to learn how to build on her own characteristics and how to better her own self-image. In the midst of all her training classes, the director was impressed by Moua’s professionalism and enthusiasm to learn, she offered Sheng a job. After being professionally trained, Moua worked for the training agency as a Personal
Development instructor teaching others what she had learned.
I continued on to teach many other classes such as personal etiquette, runway, fashion, and commercial print and acting. During photo shoots, I worked as an Image Consultant and Fashion Stylist for models, assisting with wardrobe, working on different looks for their composite cards and portfolios. I worked with three different training agencies for a total of 7 years. – Moua
In order to gain her Visual Communications Degree to build her fashion credentials, Moua enrolled into The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise (FIDM) in January 2007. Cathy Chambers, her career advisor, and Angela Leavitt are two ladies who have made a difference in Moua’s career.
We have such a strong relationship. They truly have been one of the main reasons why I have established so many new relationships and why I am so much more prepared for the industry. I will always be in touch with these two ladies and they will forever be in my heart. – Moua
Her resume includes working as a Production Assistant for some of the best fashion show producers whose clients include Giorgio Annani, Zac Posen, Eduardo Lucero, and Patricia Field. Along with fashion show producers, Moua has worked with amazing event planners and celebrity stylists. She’s worked on a few reality shows as a fashion wardrobe stylist and has been inside the Playboy Mansion.
“It’s an amazing world. It’s a lot of work but if you really have the passion for it, believe me, it’s all worth it.” -Moua
Moua is currently freelancing with different clients, styling for photographers, directing and styling her own photo shoots, continuously updating her portfolio, doing internships and apprenticing for as many fashion related companies as possible. FIDM has allowed her to network with some of the best of the best in the fashion world. Even in working within an environment of the fast lane Moua hasn’t forgotten her roots. Despite that some of what her uncles telling her she would never amount to anything because she was a girl, she still had her parents, close friends and family support where she paved her own destiny.
As a Fashion Stylist, directing and styling her own photo shoots, while at FIDM some of her work includes wardrobe and production assistants as well as many other behind the scene titles. Due to school, Moua is unable to commit to any specific clients at this time, but she is currently working with Damali Walker, an amazing actress, and model and music producers like Darryl Turner and his music artists. However, it is still Moua’s job to make sure whoever she is working with at the time to always make sure they look great when they walk down on the red carpet, premieres, fashion runways or even award ceremonies. It’s her job as an Image Consultant to make sure they are HOT and walk away with nothing but confidence.
Sheng interned as a fashion stylist/wardrobe assistant on the set of “The Search for the Next Doll” season two. The Pussycat Dolls are one of the hottest pop music all-girl groups in America, with the privilege to have that kind of opportunity to work with PCD, the founder and creator of the show, Robin Antin. Working with Judy and Sammy AKA: the kids, who are the main wardrobe stylists for the Pussycat Dolls, singing artist and 5 time Grammy award winner Lil’ Kim, Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, Ron Fair who is the President of Geffen Records and the choreographer Mikey Minden. Sheng has reached .to all-new high. It truly proves her theory of doing what you love. The rewards are truly priceless. After quitting her job of nine years to finally reach for her dream job, it has finally paid off.
“It really is an amazing opportunity to work with professionals who are truly passionate about what they do. Being in the industry, it is important to know that celebrities are just like everyone else. They are humans and they just want to be treated the same way everyone else does. My advice is to just be yourself and if you have the chance to say hello, do so. If you love their work, tell them and they will be as humbled and grateful to you as a fan.”
Fashion is about how and what you put together. The personality you possess while wearing an outfit. You can wear a $1,000 Gucci dress, but if you don’t know how to accessorize or tailor it to your own personality then it would never work. Sheng can dress someone up in something from a thrift store, pull some jewelry from the 99-cent store and make you look fabulous as if you were worth a million dollars. There is no rule in fashion. Its fun, it’s creative and it’s always and forever changing. Every fashion stylists has their own taste just as everyone has their own personal style and stores they shop at. Don’t be afraid to play with clothes. If you really love that $210.00 pair of Chanel earrings, then buy it but the fake ones will do just fine. Quality is good, but not everyone could afford it, so work with what you have and make it work for you.
“Dream BIG! Wake up loving what you do and you will always be happy with the decisions you make. If you live your life doing what you love, nothing else will matter because you will be happy with yourself and no one can take that away from you. Be confident in what you do and what you know. Never doubt yourself and your abilities. If you believe in yourself then anything is possible. Surround yourself with positive people and you will only succeed. Live your life for you, not for anyone else. Remember that at the end of the day, it is you who has to be happy with your decisions and who you allow yourself to ultimately become. Be happy, be unforgettable and just be you!” – Moua
Sheng Moua’s Do’s & Don’ts
• Take time out and travel to different places every summer. (If you can't afford to travel out of state, then spend a weekend at an upscale hotel at a nearby city and have dinner at an upscale restaurant. (Everyone has to experience this).
• If you are not traveling, take a class in something you love to do. Never stop learning.
• Go to the beach at least once during the summer.
• Get a tan and show it off in the hottest summer fashions.
• Get a fresh new look after the summer is over (Shop for new clothes, get a new haircut and color, spend a day at the spa and pamper yourself. The point is to have fun and be open-minded).
• You don't have to plan every summer for Minnesota's 4th of July events. Be adventurous and explore the world.
• Don't linger on the past. Plan for the future and set your goals.
• Don't neglect your friends and family. This is the time to visit for the weekend, a day or for a lunch or dinner date.
• Don't lose touch with the ones that matter the most.
• Don't go crazy and party too much. Keep your dignity and integrity intact no matter where you are. Always be aware of your own actions.
• Don't stay home. Go out and enjoy the summer, make new friends, network, make new goals and
never stop learning.