Join columnist Vicky Ellison every month as she meets with inspiring women from the worlds of wellness, business, fashion and art to bring you a snapshot of their story and advice to take into your day.
Wide-eyed and effervescent, even before coffee, I’m immediately in awe of Mimi Xu’s passion and drive. DJ, producer, composer, artist - Mimi has become a respected name in fashion, music and art around the world.
During her teens, Mimi rejected her background in classical piano realizing that ‘it was about playing what you’ve been told to well’, but limits creativity. ‘Only later I realised I could use what I knew from before, but I needed to liberate myself from that to see it.’
Stepping into the unknown and seeing purpose with hindsight was a theme apparent in all we discussed.
Mimi stepped away from classical music and into fashion, later combining her passions for fashion, music and composition. She moved cities several times, curating shows for top designers around the globe, never knowing the outcome but always taking the leap. Does she ever get scared? ‘Not really. There are so many fears, but if you keep thinking about things you’d never do anything’
There’s not a hint of self-importance to Mimi, she continually shifts the focus from herself to her work, lighting up as she discusses the purpose behind her projects.
That’s the beauty of experimentation – start with a frame and see what comes.
By her own admission, Mimi is a workaholic. ‘I get bored if I just do one thing – there are so many layers of things you can do in life you just have to be very organized’.
Mimi divides her time between commissioned work and creative projects. One such project is Awkward Moments; a mixed media series with the intention of ‘breaking barriers between audience and performers, getting people involved to feel what we feel’.
In the second instalment, much to her surprise, all 50 performers and guests ended up naked. She shared a story of a friend battling cancer who left having forgotten his anxiety with new-found body confidence. The whole group felt empowered. ‘I never thought I was capable of doing that’ she says, the excitement of the unknown spurring her on.
‘That’s the beauty of experimentation – start with a frame and see what comes… Art is not about certainty, that’s cinema, experimentation is what I like – living in the moment is what interests me in live performance’
For Mimi, success is not about being popular, ‘I’m not making mainstream work, it’s not for everyone’ she explains, ‘for me, success is about feeling I’ve pushed boundaries and made the next step.’
‘I think you have to see outside of the box even if you work a 9-5, do your own thing and make it interesting, otherwise, your life can pass by really fast.’
It’s clear that Mimi grasps opportunities with both hands, and enjoys every step of the journey.