Whoever said you can’t do it all has probably never met the likes of Rebecca Ling, Founder of designer label Parallel 51 before. A proud dog mum, Rebecca takes time out of her busy schedule of juggling her day job as a corporate lawyer and as the Founder of her own fashion brand to chat with us in this instalment of our Designer Spotlight.
Hi Rebecca! Being both a corporate lawyer and a founder of Parallel 51 is so inspiring! How do you balance both?
Rebecca: Thank you! It’s not always easy (and I’m not sure it’s possible to strike a perfect balance) but I achieve a lifestyle that I’m happy with by doing a mix that works for me. I think what is key is learning when my day job needs to take priority and when the brand does.
For example, if I have a big deal closing at work, that will be my main focus. But then if we have a new design or colourway drop, a launch event or a photo shoot with the brand, I’ll prioritise that. It’s a constant balancing act and there are times when all the plates are up in the air at once but I’ve definitely learned to adapt to it. Luckily, running Parallel 51 is FUN, so even when I’m super busy, it doesn’t feel like a chore. I’m also very grateful to have supportive and understanding friends and family who make a world of difference to having a more balanced life.
Which fashion designers (or even stylish people around you!) have been the biggest influences on your designs?
Rebecca: My friends and colleagues! The brand isn’t about trends or fast fashion, it is focused on good quality everyday essentials that genuinely work for daily life. So my main inspiration each time I design a new piece or collection is hearing from other women and finding out what they genuinely need from their wardrobe. Once I understand that we then work on the “style” element so that the clothes are not only practical but look good!
Give us a sneak peek into your typical design process as you start a new collection with Parallel 51!
Rebecca: After researching styles and designs that reflect our brand values, we work closely with our designer to put together sketches of the new designs. Whilst we refine the sketches, we also go through the fabric selection process – which is a whole task in itself!
Finding a fabric that complements a new style is a key part of the process and can change the whole look and feel of a design. Once the sketches are complete and the fabric is chosen, we prepare the first sample. I’m always super excited (but also a little nervous!) to see the first sample as it doesn’t always go to plan! There’s definitely been a number of failures in the first round of samples, but it makes seeing the final product even more worthwhile and rewarding.
You’re 33 weeks pregnant – congratulations! Do you have any words of advice for mums-to-be like you who are juggling both their day jobs and side hustles too?
Rebecca: Thanks so much! This is my first baby so the whole experience is totally new to me, and it’s been such a surreal but exciting journey. Some days being pregnant feels like a really normal part of my life, but other days I’m like “How MAD is it that I’m growing a human?!” LOL!
In terms of juggling everything, I think the key is to set boundaries and do your best to stick to those so you don’t burn out. And prioritise! If something isn’t urgent, I don’t stress about it. I also find that dealing with tasks in bitesize chunks feels more manageable and less overwhelming than constantly looking at the big picture. Having a good support network like my friends and family are also essential in helping me to get everything done and feeling like I can stay on top of it all.
We took a peek at your Instagram, and saw you wearing Parallel 51 for your maternity looks – they look so versatile and comfortable. Which pieces would you recommend mums-to-be to rent?
Rebecca: Yes! I didn’t want to buy a bunch of new maternity clothes and when I did, I was picking anything that would fit instead of choosing pieces true to my personal style. So, instead, I started trying to work more with what I had in my wardrobe to see how I could adapt it for the growing bump.
The Emelie dress has been a real win as it pairs just as well with heels or trainers. Pieces I can style for different occasions are a big help as it means less outfit planning, especially if I’m trying to get ready in a rush. (Plus an elasticated waistband is my new best friend during pregnancy, which The Emelie has.)
If you want to get versatile, The Emelie can also be styled as a light trench coat with all the buttons undone, so it’s a great multi-purpose wardrobe item. I have to give a shout-out to the Lexi Trousers too. These were an absolute wardrobe staple for me pre-pregnancy, and I managed to wear these all the way up to 5 months thanks to the loose but tailored fit.
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If you could describe the aesthetic of Parallel 51’s pieces with 3 adjectives, what would they be?
Rebecca: Versatile, everyday essentials.
What is one piece in your collections that you hold closest to your heart? Is there a story behind it?
Rebecca: The Lexi Trousers. This design is from our original collection and has been one of our best-selling items. We went through a long process with The Lexi to refine the design and get that perfect fit. There’s nothing better than when people try on an item and you can tell it truly makes them feel good; The Lexi are that item. They’re like a magic pair of trousers as they genuinely work for so many different body types and work for any occasion. They guarantee comfort and style and were a real labour of love.
What is your favourite styling tip to transform a Parallel 51 outfit from day to night?
Rebecca: Our collection is consciously designed to adapt and move with your lifestyle. Versatility is at the heart of our brand values and so any Parallel 51 outfit can go from day to night with a simple change of shoe or accessory. It really is that easy!
Rent Parallel 51 styles with a Style Theory Membership! With the Style Theory Apparel Rental Membership, you get to rent from a collection of 40,000+ apparel pieces, with plans starting from S$79/mth. Download the app and create a free account to explore the Infinite Wardrobe now.