After a trip to the Rising Sun & Co. denim haberdashey back in April, we couldn't resist the chance to have a juice with founder and designer Mike Hodis' right-hand lady, associate designer Khue Trinh. Khue, originally from Vietnam, moved to Orange County when she was seven and spent her childhood years in her father's tailor shop making clothes for Barbies, herself and eventually the girls at school.
Khue studied Chemistry at UC Irvine after her father gave her an ultimatum that steered her out of the family business. "He said, 'You can either be a chemist or a biologist,'" Khue explained. Fast forward four years to the conversation where the designer, planning to attend pharmacy school at USC, let him in on the secret that she would study Fashion Design at Otis instead. "Change of plans!" she laughing. "It's almost like the pregnant conversation for an Asian family."
The designer was working in knits and wovens at Lucky Brand before meeting Mike and diving into all things tailored denim. Her daily tasks at Rising Sun include everything from answering emails to working with cutters and sewers to making the patterns. Then there's the fun fact that she is the only woman on-board, answering the questions of eight men throughout the day. This is one of many differences from working in a huge company filled with female designers. "But the best part is to first see the design on paper, then our head tailor comes in [with the product] and says 'Here you go!'" Khue explained. "You don't get that when working for a big corporate company."
We sat down with Khue, who is in the midst of prepping a shoot for the brand's spring/summer 2014 collection, right outside Eagle Rock Juice Co. where she let us in on her summer plans, embarrassing tendencies and why she has to sleep with her door closed.
What are you drinking today?
"It has green apple, celery, kale, spinach, chard, lemon and ginger."
What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?
"Tom and Jerry, it's classic. Poor guy, he never gets the mouse! The little guy is so cunning though, he's awesome."
What hobby have you kept under wraps (until now)?
"This is such an old lady thing, but I love to knit. It's one of those things that is almost a form of meditation, you just kind of do it. Sometimes you look back and say 'Oh, that's really great,' and sometimes you look back and are like 'Ew, wow.' You can see where you're focused and where you've zoned out and I think that's the best part about it."
Indoor or Outdoor?
Do you have any weird pet peeves?
"Even numbers. I don't know why that is, I think part of me has a little OCD tendency. And pants folding, the crotch has to be on the left side. I get so irritated when my boyfriend does laundry for me and folds it the other way. I secretly sneak back in and refold it. I've been caught a few times."
Where is your favorite place to shop in the area?
"There's a place over here called Letters from LA. It's a little boutique and she sells all kinds of jewelry and stuff like that. It's really cute."
Email or Snail Mail?
What is usually on the Friday night dinner menu?
"During the week, I juice in the morning and I juice at night for dinner, so lunch is the meal I get to eat. Friday is my cheat day. Usually, that involves either a big fat steak or a big fat steak."
Which boy band do you want to see make a comeback?
"I kind of miss 98 Degrees!"
Follow the Rules or Bend the Rules?
"Bend the Rules."
Any summer plans your looking forward to?
"I'm excited about road trips. I think this summer I'm going to do a lot of hiking and road trips, to San Francisco and probably back to the Grand Canyon."
What is your favorite day of the week?
If your life were a book, what would it be titled?
"The Quirky Girl That Never Stops? Kind of like The Little Engine That Could." (Laughs)
Fourth of July or Christmas?
Where did you go on your last weekend getaway?
"San Diego. We biked, hiked, kayaked, a lot of outdoorsy things. We got ice cream at the peer. It was just a way to chill-out."
What do you tend to do that is really embarrassing?
"I'm really clumsy and I love to wear heels. Those two things don't really mix. Dancing in a club, falling on my face."
Too Early or Too Late?
What is your go-to look for work?
"At work I'm eclectic, but usually my go-to is a white v-neck T-shirt and [Rising Sun] jeans. It's so easy for me. They're raw, so I've been trying to break them in."
Have you ever been a collector of anything?
"I used to collect little spoons from every state. Lately, I've been collecting antlers and deer heads. They're just around the house, although I have this one, I named him Chandler, and they way he looks at you! I noticed one morning in my bedroom, he was giving me the eye! Now I sleep with my door closed."
1995 or 2013?
Do you have a motto you like to live your live by?
"I think what sticks out to me the most is 'It's not about the ending, it's about the story.' I remind myself of that every now and then. People always say 'tomorrow's not guaranteed so make the best of today.' I'm creating my story, whether it's fashion or chemistry. I'm doing it. We'll see!"
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