Supporters of Love

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This Week's Challenge: It's All About Taryn Zhang!

Sunny Woan of Taryn Zhang handbags whose design aesthetic is described as ambitious, fearlessness, and strength.


There is no doubt that when Sunny Woan created Taryn Zhang, she was targeting her consumer as the fierce, ambitious, and talented women of the world working to achieve their respective goals.  Sunny Woan, whom I met on the "invite only" social network, is one of those people you meet in life that can do just about anything she puts her mind to...except for math, which she playfully addresses "that is a stereotype she wishes she could live up to."  Her sense of humor is a complement to her drive for success and is a key ingredient to how and why she even started designing handbags.  Woan, a corporate attorney for a global investment firm, was taking the California bar exam when her laptop broke in the middle of the process.  She decided to start doodling and found herself drawing a handbag.  Woan admits this was unusual for her, but somehow one thing led to another and she made her decision...she was going to be a handbag designer.  When she told her husband about her newly found dream she admits, "The husband was confused," (back to her sense of humor), but inevitably jumped on board and they created their first "baby," deciding on the name Taryn Zhang.  

The Taryn Zhang aesthetic can be described as one of power mirrored with elegance.  Woan wanted to create a bag that did not lack in style, but was durable enough to be waltzed from board room to board room carrying files, laptops, and the plethora of other items today's working woman needs.  She emphasizes the fact that she wanted to remain true to a woman's femininity without losing that ambiance of independence that each if us deserve to project.  

Sunny Woan's blog is an aspiring designer's dream read allowing the reader to follow her along in her journey of becoming a successful handbag designer.  You can find her musings on choosing color swatches  to her hilarious take on her own fashion illustration process.  You can even find her article/interview on us, which she entitles, Taryn Zhang Supports The Compassion Fashion Project.  Boy, does she!  Woan offered, as we were interviewing and researching each other's missions, to submit some of her adorable fashion illustrations for our online boutique.  I was so touched by the gesture and the wonderful article she wrote about us.  One may ponder, "Why has Sunny Woan taken such an interest in The CFP?"  Well, I think she sums it up best in her own words:

"Combating violence against women is a mission near and dear to my heart. Through the pro bono legal work I’ve done, I’ve represented women who were survivors of domestic violence, rape, and sex slavery. I’ve sat across the table from women who were the same age as me, who liked the same silly things as me–cheesecake, puppies, Hello Kitty–but who lived through horrors and endured pains I cannot begin to understand. From the day one such woman decided she’d try to escape to the actual date she succeeded at escaping, 10 years–10 years!–had passed. Why? Because there wasn’t help or resources made available to her. That is why what the Compassion Fashion Project does is nothing short of heroism. They are making available the help and resources that enable such women to get out of their horrific situations."  

Taryn Zhang handbags are animal-friendly and cruelty-free by using high-quality microfiber vegan leather.  The company also maintains a "Pro Bono" policy ,offering her customers a 10% discount by proving that they have performed at least 5 hours of community service on behalf of a qualifying non-profit.  We, here at The Compassion Fashion Project, urge you to go out and provide your volunteer services to your local domestic violence shelter and then go shop for a unique Taryn Zhang handbag to continue on your road to personal success.  

Interview with Sunny Woan

Q.What made you really want to switch careers from being a successful attorney to a fashion designer?

I haven’t switched careers; that’s what’s tough! I’m juggling two! I wake up at 6 am to work on my design aspirations, which my husband and I internally refer to as Project Taryn Zhang. Then 9 to 5, I’m working as the in-house lawyer for an international company. Sometimes that work spills over, especially when there is a big case or business deal pending, so then Project Taryn Zhang has to be put on the back burner. Otherwise, typically when I return home, that is when I communicate with my overseas manufacturer, work on designs, business plans, do sales work, etc.
Sunny Woan busy at work.

Q. How has this transition worked out for you and are you happy you made this decision and why?

I made the decision to focus on myself and my own aspirations. If that is selfish, then so be it. Most women my age are just starting to balance a new family, possibly small children, with a career. That seems to be the norm right now, and therefore the “correct” lifestyle to pursue. As a consequence, I often get dinged for my decision to balance two careers rather than one career and a baby. Make no mistake, though, I am very fortunate. My husband supports me all the way. Interestingly, it seems to be third parties outside the picture that have all these opinions and judgments on how I should live my life. Isn’t that usually the case with hecklers?  
Buy this organic tee "Taryn Zhang Supports The Compassion Fashion Project"

Q. What would you tell young women out there who are healing from violent relationships?

There is no one-size-fits-all way to heal. The general advice is to find people who have similar experiences and to talk about what you went through. That kind of advice doesn’t help everyone, however. For example, I dealt with my past painful, unsavory situations through creative writing and coped by throwing myself into organizational work, social work, and projects I was passionate about. Striving to spend my leisure time and energy meaningfully helped me heal. Personally, and this is for me specifically, a group pow-wow would have made me more miserable. So I guess if you’re introverted, try creative writing as an outlet for expressing what you’ve gone through, and if you’re extroverted, find a group of like-minded individuals and commiserate together. Finally, once you’re strong enough, it might not be a bad idea to get back into the ring and help others get out. Help by being the guardian angel to other women that either you wish you had or were fortunate enough to have.

P.S. I am assuming from the question that the young woman is already OUT of the violent relationship and is starting her healing process from a safe and far distance. Otherwise, the first thing I would tell her is to get out of the violent relationship!!!
Another one of Sunny Woan's adorable fashion illustrations on sale now!

Q. Do you have any professional legal advice you can give young women out there who are in an abusive relationship (such as take photos of their injuries for documentation etc.)?  

I am not a family lawyer and have very little experience in this area of the law. However, I did work on a few pro bono cases involving survivors of domestic abuse. On a general note, always document what happened as comprehensively as possible. You want a trail of evidence to support your allegations. If you’re hurt, see a doctor immediately and get examined, even if you think “it’s only a bruise” or “just a sprain.” The doctor will furnish a report as part of her or his examination and that report may become key evidence in future legal proceedings against the perpetrator. Photographs, yes definitely, and date all photographs. Also note who took the photographs, in the event the photographer needs to become a witness to authenticate the photographs. Keep a regular diary or journal, dated, to record everything that happens to you. This, too, could someday become material evidence. You want to have as much evidence as possible for building your case against the perpetrator.

If you want to help the cause and make a difference in the lives of other battered women, the best action you can take as a survivor is to report what happened to the proper authorities. If you are presented with the opportunity to take that person to court and make him answer for his crime (I use the pronoun “him” here pursuant to overwhelming statistics), then do it. Abusers continue to abuse because they think they can get away with it and they are getting away with it because so many women let them. Under reporting is one of this issue’s biggest hurdles.

Most law schools today have a public interest law clinic focused on women’s issues, so if there is a university near where you live, find out whether there is a women’s law clinic. These clinics usually have a wealth of resources for you and may even be able to offer free legal advice. You can find additional resources online via the National Women's Law Center and The American Bar Association also has some great links. See: Resources for Survivors, American Bar Association.  

I am thrilled to be able to introduce my readers here at The CFP to the Taryn Zhang line and all that encompasses her lovely company.  This is a first for us to have the privilege of collaborating with an attorney and forwarding on some wonderful resources.  I urge any woman who is dealing with a violent relationship or coming out of one to utilize the resources and advice that has been offered to you.  For my other readers, fellow fashionistas, and blog folk, I encourage you to support Sunny Woan's company and spread the word about her generous offer she has made by way of a discount for those who perform community service.  I know I keep saying this, but it is a new time and we as consumers have the power and opportunity to change the way in which we make our purchases.  Companies who are promoting volunteering and charitable work should be celebrated and admired.  There is no room for anything else.


  1. Amazing collaboration!!! Really!!! Oh I'm so over the moon for you! Finding a woman as generous and talented as this little lady is one in a million. Wonderful!

  2. Thanks Jamillah! What would I do without your support? I am so glad that we both have the same interests to collaborate on. Sunny is a wonderful gal and I hope that others will go check out her products and her wonderful blog. She truly is a great talent.

  3. I'm loving this post! Thank you so much for the publicity and exposure.

    Btw, I didn't start doodling purses in the MIDDLE of the actual bar exam! Haha, that would have been interesting. I got bored while STUDYING and prepping for the bar and that was when I started doodling handbag designs.

    Super strange tangent: I did, however, observe a young woman plucking her eyebrows at the test center for the bar exam. I thought, right on! Whether or not we become lawyers hangs in the balance right now, it's do or die, but you know what? You still gotta look good. Those eyebrows still gotta be groomed. That's the spirit!

  4. Haha! That is so funny! Yes, we must look fabulous in all scenarios, right? Maybe it was a nervous thing...who knows?

    I'm so happy to support you and feel so lucky that we met.

    I wish you so much success!

  5. This is a great post! The bags are beautiful and the fact that the designer does amazing legal work? Even better. I love hearing about people who are changing the world AND working in fashion.

  6. So true! Using those "trendsetter" powers for good...we adore her.

  7. Love the handbags and t-shirt designs. Sunny you are so talented and using that talent for a bigger purpose is what this movement is all about. Stunning. Great story.

  8. I think people are going to start think more about the way we spend our money and the companies we are supporting. She has such a kind heart and her promotion of feminine independence and charitable interests is her "outstanding factor."

  9. What a touching post. I love this. She's definitely an amazing person. I love these designs as well. Thank you for sharing this, I'm a huge supporter of this mission.

  10. Thank you so much, I am so appreciative of our supporters:)

  11. Amazing. Great post and those
    handbags are lovely!
    Sucha great cause!