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People: The 13-year old trailblazing designer behind Daughters of the Revolution, Ava Soh, and her ideals on self-love and purpose

SINGAPORE – In the latter part of May 2020, 13-year old Ava Soh launched her very own jewelry collection on Kickstarter with a message and story that’s beautifully packaged in 925 silver, and 18k yellow gold. On June 9, the adobo magazine team conducted a quick video interview with her, where she shared that, just a few weeks after its launch, the project had already reached 300% funding — an incredible landslide of support showing how much her brand’s story has resonated with the world.

 

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As a young woman, Soh realized early on that her mission revolves around teaching the next generation to live without fear and return to an almost childlike state, when we were without it. “I want to preserve that for the next generation, so that they can question the way society is ran, and they are not afraid to be questioned. Because, I think, these are the values we need to change the world,” she shared.

Starting a Fashion Revolution

A part of her mission is teaching women to love themselves and have confidence before anything else, as reflected in her fashion brand, Daughters of the Revolution (DOTR). In her words, she wants to “empower the next generation of 21st century heroines” through her designs. The four-piece “Cintra Diri” collection that she recently released is a perfect manifestation of this mission, with a nod to Singapore’s Peranakan culture and a tribute to a locally beloved snack, the “love letter.”

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Love letter biscuits, historically, are a secret way for young girls to send hand-written love letters to their significant others. The cylinder-like shape provides the ideal hiding place for proclamations of love passed on from person to person. In Soh’s collection, these love letters, instead of being given to someone else, is bought for the self as a way to symbolize self-love.

The story behind this project is built on different moments and experiences across Ava Soh’s 13 years of life that solidified her clear vision for a brighter and more fashionable future. Her innate passion for fashion goes back to some of her earliest memories where her grandmother would sew dresses for her little dolls. From then on, at five years old, she would have weekly classes with her to learn about everything from basic sewing, to crafting intricate embroideries and trinkets on clothes. At around the same time, she shared her obsession with Project Runway, an American reality show that showcases a group of fashion designers competing through a series of challenges for a chance to design an original collection for New York Fashion Week.

For Soh, fashion is a good medium through which to express herself and make a change, as she believes that it tells a lot about society and who we are as people, and as individuals.

Another memory came to the designer’s mind when we were discussing this: In the car with her family on the way home, she overheard her parents talk about how women in some countries aren’t able to wear what they want because of society’s dictations. When she asked her father who made these silly rules, he said, “Well, they’re mostly men.” This angered her, and fuelled her passion to launch this project even more.

Soh is also deeply appreciative of Singaporean designs and style, and has made it a point to insert bits of its history in her own aesthetic. She shared with us that she believes there is no real “good design,” as everyone has their own, and the difference between good and bad is purely subjective. In her case, however, she looks at meaning and how Singapore’s fashion story has evolved through the years, and tries to incorporate it into her own personal style.

The Russian Doll

Every order from the Cintra Diri collection is packaged in individually-painted Russian dolls that Soh designs herself. Originally, the Matryoshka dolls, are used to depict different generations of women, coming from one mother.

In Soh’s interpretation, however, this meaning is switched up to represent a new generation, a new society, and a newer way of thinking: “We may not all be mothers, but we are all daughters.” This reverts back to the brand name, Daughters of the Revolution, which beautifully illustrates a new age of young women.

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Moreover, the different layers of the Russian doll also appropriately represents the different layers of people. In the Cintra Diri collection, it symbolizes that when you strip off these layers, you’ll find self-love at its core.

“You have to love yourself before you love anyone else. That was the main message I want to send out to all the women in the world, that you don’t need a Prince Charming to complete you. I think self-love is one of the most important things, because it’s kind of like the basis for everything. Only self-love can bring self-confidence, and that’s what I want the next generation to have: the self-confidence to fight for what they believe in.”

Kicking and Starting

To create an original fashion line and launch it on a platform such as Kickstarter with the hopes of getting funding support for it is no easy feat, but Ava Soh has done a remarkable job at it in the months leading up to her big launch, and the weeks that followed. When we moved the conversation to her project and how she got over the fear of starting it in the first place, she shared with us the “Song of Try.” This song is a Soh family mantra, it seems, since her older brother Dylan had also shared it on the Ted Talks Singapore stage back in 2015 with an inspirational story of his own.

The song goes like this:

“If I don’t try, I won’t know,
If I don’t know, the fear will grow,
So I must try, then I’ll know
When I know, the fear will go.”

She also spoke about how her whole family came in to support her in following her passion, and fulfilling her mission. As a daughter of Calvin Soh, a celebrated advertising creative across Asia, she shared how watching her father’s career on the side and occasionally helping out has made her learning how to run a business a lot more organic throughout her life. This is just one instance that illustrates how the support of both her parents, her brother, and her grandparents, have each made a significant impact in her life that led to where she is now.

“I definitely would not have gotten where I am without my family’s help. They helped cheer me on when I’m not as motivated, which is quite often. You’re not always so energetic and happy. Sometimes things don’t go well, and my family comes in and cheer me up a bit.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQpmvnYgmp0/?fbclid=IwAR2EBvU8hz-JKH3Agi5MiT8AVLE3mrAyUCFZsB7Eqh8PMuRgWv1zHbJTlaE

This is but a small peek into the trailblazer that is Ava Soh, and her focused dream that is fuelled by wisdom beyond her years. As much as her environment and upbringing has empowered her to dream big and given her the means to make this dream a reality, she is definitely a bright and talented star in her own right, and one that everybody should watch in the years to come.

If Soh’s Cintra Diri collection is any indication, we can trust that the next generation is fully equipped with the tools and beliefs they need to establish a brighter future. Some of which may be ideals that we, the older generation, should learn from as well.

As Ava put it: “You have to step out of your comfort zone, and try new things. If you don’t, you’re not going to get anywhere. Follow your passion, follow what you believe in, know who you are talking to, and have a purpose.”


Soh recently relaunched her collection on Indiegogo after reaching 300% funding on Kickstarter. Check out the collection here

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