Chinese multimedia artist, influencer, and entrepreneur Yi Zhou is widely known in the international creative community for her artistic, fashion, branding and film work. Her work is admired by a highly diverse group of distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood A-listers, wealthy patrons and the young social media audience.
Yi Zhou has a degree in politic science and economics from the London School of Economics and is now continuing her education at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. She speaks fluent French, Italian, English, Spanish and Mandarin.
In recent years, she has endorsed a number of global campaigns including Persol, DFST – Galleria, Levis, and others. She was named the first-ever brand ambassador for China for Clarins in 2010. Since 2011, she has collaborated with such prestigious brands as Chanel, Hogan, Pringle of Scotland, Lane Crawford and YOOX. She also collaborated with French couture Jewelry house Gripoix, launching a special collection titled “Pineapple Secret. Her animations have also inspired a clothing collection by popular French brand Each X Other.
In 2013, she was invited as the first ever Chinese talent to be hired as a designer and creative director of a brand, to create a 360-degree project ranging from menswear, womenswear and accessories for Italian luxury brand ICEBERG. The “Breaking the Ice” capsule collection was released worldwide in December 2013.
In 2010, she created Yi Zhou Studio, creating employment opportunities for young Chinese talents to collaborate and experiment together on international projects.
A major social media influencer, Yi Zhou has been named Tudou’s art director, art and fashion advisory member at SINA.com, and beauty and fashion ambassador for Tencent.
A passionate promoter of East-West relations, she is frequently asked to speak at conferences and events around the globe, including TEDx (Paris 2012, Beijing 2013, Zheijang 2014), LVMH Labour Day in Paris in 2013 and Financial Times Luxury Conference in 2014.
Yi Zhou has contributed to many NGOs by creating art pieces for the UN Conference for World Climate Change in South Africa in 2011, the UNDP China Rio+20 Projection in 2012, as well as World Oceans Day in 2015. Most recently, she worked with Natalia Vodianova’s Naked Heart Foundation by participating in an artwork commissioned by ETAM.
Yi Zhou ‘s short films have also been shown at Shanghai Biennale, Venice Biennale, Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival. She was selected by Venice Biennale to showcase her 2011 works, as well as new works from her solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome titled “Fragments of Rome, past, future, parallel worlds.”
She is currently working on several international media projects and is developing her first feature motion picture.
StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Yi Zhou to find out more about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
I began my career as a multimedia artist in Paris and in China. Recently, I have relocated to Los Angeles to prepare for my first feature film and to start an investment company that will invest in entertainment and lifestyle portfolios.
My journey to success is thanks to hard work and by living in different countries. I have developed a sense of independence and survival to the new that has helped me to strengthen my skills to adapt to new environments.
I actually have a selective memory, and I am always ready to start a new chapter and a new challenge against boredom. I would never want to sit and dwell on my past achievements, but instead, I look at the future with hope and opportunities.
What is your main source of income?
I have multiple sources of income. I have divided my business and creative skills as an artist, filmmaker, and entrepreneur.
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
I’m preparing my investment firm at the moment and adding more ventures into my portfolio, and plan to venture into riskier as well as traditional investments.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
I feel that I’m a pretty tolerant person. Therefore, I can afford some more risky investments and projects, such as my latest addition, ArtWallet, to which I’ve been named an Advisory Board Member. It’s a new concept that bridges cryptocurrency and art. I’m also preparing to launch my brand Global Intuition, a new concept for lifestyle and apparel born in China and made in LA and China.
What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
I don’t believe in sponsored advertising in the long run for social media, as it lacks authenticity. It often feels like a Christmas tree, due to the sudden association of the influencer with a given brand. I believe things and associations must feel organic and real to the audience, who is becoming more and more savvy nowadays.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
I must say that I’m an influencer myself and I often refuse to do posts that make me sound unnatural. I try always to be associated with brands that I feel close to in terms of philosophy, strategy and look. As for my own brand Global Intuition, we are preparing our PR and marketing launch at the moment.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
I don’t believe in any marketing theories. I always try something new with a surprise effect.
How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?
I hope my brand Global Intuition will stand out when it launches later this year. As a brand myself, YiZhou, I feel that I am unique as I incorporate many roles and cultures into one, so it makes it difficult to copy.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
The toughest decision I had to make in the past months was to say goodbye to some projects that I was invited to work on. Along the initial path, I encountered a lot of difficulties to deal with some of the involved partners, so I looked deep inside of myself and decided not to continue, even if the projects might have appealed to me. I feel work and living happily are the most important things to me.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
Over time, I have learned that overspending and having too much overhead are mistakes. I think modern technologies are allowing us to accomplish more tasks than before, thereby saving manpower.
What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?
I think “saving” is a keyword to learn, as are planning and making smart moves.
What new business would you love to start?
I wish to continue to accomplish the plan I laid out for the upcoming years, and my best goal is to one day create a beautiful family.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I wish to be able to see my ancestral life. But in this very life, I would not change anything, besides perhaps learning to deal with difficult people differently. I wish I would have had the chance to learn about this important skill in advance.
Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?
I read a lot of sports-related books, as I believe an entrepreneur is a sportsman (or woman). We need to take the same approach.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Advice to a newbie: I wish to advise them to find a real-life role model and mentor, and stay in close contact with that person for guidance.