In Soho with Narrativ CEO Shirley Chen
At Home is a series observing personal journeys, through origins and current spaces. With each feature, we hope to inspire duality of relaxation and effort in the every day.
Shirley Chen, founder and CEO of Narrativ, was just named Forbes 30 Under 30. She is a pioneer for diversity in the tech industry and well-rooted in the world of fashion. During her personal time, she makes the time for regular ballet lessons (something she swears is more of a mental exercise than a physical one) and trips to the movie theater. To us, Shirley is the perfect embodiment of passion and restraint, of grit and poise.
Where are you from? What was a defining memory from your origin?
I grew up in Beijing in the 90s. Deng instituted Reform and Open in China and it transformed our lives – I remember getting an air conditioner, eating shrimp for the first time, and haggling for bootleg DVDs. My cousin and I watched Kramer vs. Kramer, Cinema Paradiso, and My Own Private Idaho. I only learned later that these were niche arthouse films and not American blockbusters! It felt like a sunshine filled childhood.
What was your favorite travel memory and why was it your favorite? What did you take away from it?
I took a trip to London and Brighton Beach before starting my first job. Everything about it was awkward and poorly planned - but I got to know the love of my life. This was the first time I learned to love travel for all its bruises and deep joys.
How do you reconcile the duality of relaxation and effort in your life?
Effort can feel scary, but an easy life sounds like a boring one to me. Learning ballet as an adult has been an interesting metaphor for facing life's challenges - it's a constant practice of driving effort into your core instead of accumulating tension as wasted energy. I feel powerful knowing that I can consciously relax during any kind of challenge.
What is the one idea or concept you stand for and why?
The way you do anything is the way you do everything.
How do you build a sense of calm in your personal space?
My day is often noisy - so I keep my home thoughtful, clean, and organized.
Describe your personal style. How does it reflect back to your way of life?
Where is your personal journey leading you to -- what’s next?
I love what I’m doing right now. Whatever is next, I hope it keeps making my heart sing.
Follow along Shirley's journey here.
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