Name: Tatiana Gomez
Current City: Shanghai
Occupation: Senior Designer for Corporate Interior Offices
How would you describe your style? Classy / Boho
If you had to wear one outfit everyday, what would it be?
A black short dress, turtleneck, sleeveless, a lined.
You’re originally from Colombia, do your cultural roots affect your style in any way?
Definitely, I’m originally from the mountains where it rains a lot, and is overcast most of the time. However, as we are an ex-colony, we have a mixture of cultures, colours, styles from all over the world- African, European, Middle Eastern and Native American. So yes we are colouful and to certain extent exotic. For my style, I would say my roots mainly influence my accessories. I love colourful statement jewelry and handbags, mostly handmade.
Describe your current life in three words: Busy, interesting, hectic
How does your occupation as an architect affect your style?
I always need to wear something practical, elegant, in a basic colour, because your day can go from a site visit to client meeting, lunch with suppliers, getting hands-on dirty, sketching or selecting materials. So I’m always wearing something comfortable, easy to wear and accessorized, versatile and stylish. I’m always on the run, ready for the unexpected.
A lot of people have a hard time finding a career that fulfills them; can you share your story as to how you found your passion as an architect?
I come from a very artistic family, with designers, architects and writers, and none of my relatives live out of their passions talents.
I grew up surrounded by drawing tables, tracing papers, rulers, architects and engineers. My aunties would take care of me on the weekends, so they would put me on the drawing table whilst they were working, so pretty much my destiny was determined since young age.
My dad is a great writer, as well as my mum- extremely creative, grant-uncle died writing poems and published three books, and auntie won the national award twice for poet women in the country. And the list goes on and on; anyhow I was brought up in a household where I was always encouraged to do what I wanted, so when I said, “I want to be an architect” the only issue they raised was, “Do you know you’ll sleep very little? Also architects never have time for personal engagements, Do you really want that?”
So I told my parents I was going to sit the exam for the most difficult state run university in the country for Architecture. After two days of exams I told my mum that it was easy especially because the exam consisted of mostly Mathematic algorithms, which I am very good at! Of course my family thought that I wasn’t going to make it, and that it was too difficult and I was just too confident, but I nailed it!!
When the results came up, my name was in the newspaper; from over 800 people that did the exam only 84 people were accepted. I passed and came in 17th place and knew that it was meant to be. What a journey!!!
What do you enjoy most about your career?
Creating new things every day. I don’t have a monotonous job; everyday presents itself with challenges and opportunities to create amazing interior spaces.
Have you faced any obstacles as a woman in your field?
Yes, as architecture is mainly a man’s world. You have to grow an extra layer of skin to protect you from negative criticisms and comments such as, ‘Can you really do this? Do you really know how to manage this software?” And so on….
Who or what influences/inspires your style?
I love minimalist Japanese architecture. I guess all my dresses and clothing prints have a big influence based on geometric shapes and basic colours.
Have you ever had to make any hard sacrifices in order to pursue your dreams/career? (If so, feel free to give an account of such a time) Endless, but one of the toughest was leaving London behind, my home, our doggies, husband. When I moved alone to Shanghai, it was a very long shot and I took it against the odds. It really paid off in the end and I’m still in China, with a promising career.
Describe your life 10 years ago in three words: Interesting, exciting, fresh
You have lived and studied in a couple countries, how did you make it happen? And what advice do you have for others who aspire to do the same?
I always knew I was destined to travel and see other places. Whilst watching local travel TV Shows as a little girl I would tell my mom “just wait and see, one day I’ll be there. I can recall watching shows like ‘El mundo al vuelo’, lonely planet TV programmes, and some of David Attenborough documentaries about far exotic lands.
My family and I traveled quite a bit in Colombia, loads of road trips on the weekends and also went to the coast quite often, all of which I always enjoyed very much. So when I was old enough to know what I wanted to do with my life and was in the 8th semester of architecture(in Colombia you study 10 semesters, 5 years), I asked my parents to send me on an exchange programme to Vienna, Austria.
After such an amazing experience, I came back home determined to leave home again. After I graduated Architectural school I worked very hard for a whole year and saved up a couple thousand dollars- working very long hours, and saving every single penny I earned.
I signed up for a Master course in Prague and asked for a bank loan in order to pay for the course fees and cover some living expenses in Czech Republic. My family did not give me a coin. I knew from there onwards I had to do it alone, by myself, alone.
It’s been 10 years since then, I have successfully paid for my master course in Czech republic, paid back the bank loan, moved from Czech to Austria to UK, and then to China.
I have always worked as an architect, and also had to do some other not too glamorous jobs, like being a nanny, cleaning offices in England, having three jobs in China in order to get by and pay back the loan.
I am very proud of all the hoops I’ve jumped to be where I am right now. Even now as I’mabout to finish my second master course in business innovation and entrepreneurship.
Life will always throw at you challenges, bitter and sour experiences, do not let small things redirect your focus and make you loose passion in what you are aspiring to do, I’ve heard many “NO, Sorry the position has been filled, apply next year for that Uni Grant” etc. Well there are only small setbacks, life will always be hard, keep your chin up and smile, the only thing you can’t possibly control is death.
What does being a BagLady mean to you?
Me on the weekends!!!! Ha ha ha well a ‘homeless lady’ full of colourful junk like outfits and bags where she has her possessions, often very flashy, flamboyant and extravagant.
What do you like most about our garments?
Simplicity, versatile, basic colors and shapes which suits every single body shape, elegant and feminine.
Which countries have you visited? Too many for my own good, this year I’ve already visited 8 countries; I currently have Russia, Tanzania, Iran, Morocco and Papua New Guinea on my radar.
Have your travels shaped your style in anyway?
Certainly! I’ve become more practical but also more aware about the dirty side of fashion, cost, contamination, wastage and over-stock.
What’s one thing that you’re proud of doing/accomplishing?
Living my life the way I wanted to, I don’t believe in impossible things. I have been lucky enough to study what I wanted to study, lived and travelled where I wanted to. I’ve been living my life in a very intense way, moving from place to place, from South America, to Europe to Asia.
What would you say to your 18 year old self?
Keep dreaming big, you will achieve it, the ceiling is the moon, you are strong enough to make it happen, believe more in yourself.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Always trust your inner self, you know all the answers, listen to yourself more often and only fulfil yourself, never try to fulfill other people’s dreams
Do you have any advice for our readers?
Try to be more aware about where your food and clothes comes from, is not about changing the world is about self-awareness and conscious shopping.