• My Interview with SBS Vietnamese (English Translation)

    Original Article

    1. Your growing up journey in Australia as a Vietnamese second generation in Australia?

    Growing up in Australia and of Vietnamese background, I always believed in always connecting with your roots and heritage. My grandparents raised me after my parents divorced and they played a huge role in keeping my cultural identity. Although I did not have many Vietnamese friends when I was younger, I believed with the help of my grandparents, I got to learn about the values, morals and beliefs of a Vietnamese person, as well as the language. I learnt the importance of family, and the value of working my hardest and to never give up. Australia has such a vast variety of cultures, being a multi-cultural nation, I also got a glimpse into the food and culture presented in the Vietnamese cultural events in Australia too.

    2. Your profession (your study major)?

    On my third year of a Bachelor of Nursing, I was excluded from nursing for academic reasons in 2010. I felt this was one of my biggest traumatic failures in life, and although I couldn’t graduate, I did instead try to find employment to have a sense of belonging in the community. I miraculously found a job and worked as a nurse assistant specifically for people with spinal cord injuries for three years, and didn’t really enjoy that too, so I left. Although I haven’t had much luck with my tertiary studies and employment, I still love the idea of studying and making education a top priority in my life, as I believe in life-long learning. I have had the pleasure to take glimpses and enrolled into other tertiary studies such as; Fashion Design, Photography and Sociology too.

    3. Why do you choose to work in the mental health field?

    I never planned to be an advocate for mental health, it was always meant to be with the grace of God, and one of God’s miraculous plans for the greater good that despite through all the pain of my academic failures in life, I am able to achieve something and help others through the power of story-telling. Although being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type I, I have suffered a lot of pain, not just mentally, but emotionally too, but only through the strength of God, I can have an interest in mental health, because being in the mental health ward for almost eight times now, I have seen people from different spectrums of life and I want to see what I can do to help them through my suffering too, give them hope that they can recover from mental health issues. I believe people with mental illnesses can recover too, and I just want to set an example.

    4. Why do you choose social media platforms to promote your work?

    At first, it was more of a cry for help. I began using social media as a cry for help in sharing my stories to others and I use it to give myself a voice for those who don’t have one. From then on, I expanded out using the platforms to share safe mental health information, especially on my blog, cause not all mental health information is safe and effective to help others online.

    5. Working as a mental health advocate, what are the common mental health symptoms you have often faced with, especially for young people?

    I am no doctor or mental health professional, but young people have so many pressures from life these days, I have met young people in the mental health ward who are as highly functional as me, and because their symptoms get in the way, I think they are unable to recognise it soon enough and get the help they need. Something as little as getting out of bed can be the hardest thing for a young person to do, not getting enough sleep, and disconnecting with their social circles are some of the things I noticed.

    6. You're also a fashion, beauty blogger. Are there any links between fashion, beauty and mental health in your work?

    Again, I did not set out to be a blogger of very different interests, especially in being a mental health blogger. I think it’s important to always be open-minded to different things in life, and take what you need from it, and turn it into how you can help others. When I attend fashion events, I always introduce myself as a mental health and fashion blogger, emphasising on the mental health part and also say that through my journey of Bipolar I hope to give hope and light to those who are suffering from something similar.

    7. Working in the mental health field, have you ever feel stressful?

    Yes, of course. I attended a youth mental health workshop one time, and I ended up feeling so stressed that I ended up in the mental health ward a few days later. But I received a lot of support during and after the workshop, plus many follow-up calls and messages from the youth mental health organisation which was great. I learnt a lot from that experience, I learnt it’s not about how much strength you can muster up to work or volunteer in mental health, but more about knowing yourself and recognising your triggers when things go sour (for example I called the Mental Health Department at hospital and Lifeline that I needed help). It’s about taking baby steps to getting the help you need.

    8. I heard that you were nominated for Best Bupa Blog Awards? Also you were invited for a role of 'Conference Consultant' at the 12th Biennial Asia Pacific International Mental Health Conference. Can you talk more about this?

    I am blessed to have the opportunities and finding different ways of getting my work out there. I was nominated for the BUPA Blog Award “Health” category, and the conference was my first time accepting the role as a ‘Conference Consultant’, but unfortunately I could not attend the three-day event for health issues, and being in the hospital. I just helped with sharing information about the conference through the use of my social media platforms though, that’s all.

    9. Do you have any plan for the near future? (For example expand your work)

    I plan on recovering to the fullest. I want to heal from my mental health issues, and although I am better, I feel there’s always room for self-improvement. Learning to practice self-compassion, self-love, self-gratitude; and taking small steps in life every day, and taking it easy.

  • INTERVIEW with Miss World National Finalist 2015 Jessica Laughton Smith

    Above: Photography by Elizabeth Grinter

    Jessica Laughton Smith is a model of all different types, actress and National Finalist of Miss World Pageant 2015. She loves fashion, enjoy keeping an active and healthy lifestyle and will be representing Queensland for Miss World 2015. I spend a few minutes interviewing this gorgeous and talented young lady:

    SD: So Jessica, what made you decide to join the Miss World Pageant?

    This is my second year competing for Missworld Australia. I competed last year on a whim after seeing it online and thinking "why not?". The journey to national finals last year was not easy and it took an incredible amount of hard work getting there but once I was there, I felt like I had found my place. I learnt so much from Peter Sereno (owner of Dear Pageant Girl) who coached us all and I felt like it would have been a waste of the new knowledge I gained to not come back. Miss World is an incredible system that supports women and gives them a platform to give back to the community. My goal in coming back for 2015 is to take home the title of Missworld Queensland and revamp pageantry at a state level. I want to help create a program here in Queensland that aims to inspire next years girls to work hard both within the community and within themselves. 

    SD: If you could describe three positive words about yourself, what would they be?

    I'm ambitious, creative and happy!

    SD: Who is your biggest inspiration in your life at the moment, and why?

    My biggest inspiration in my life will always be my mum. She passed away a few years ago from cancer and making her proud is my motivation for all that I do.

    SD: You mentioned in your public figure Facebook profile that you do modelling, and so what is your favourite part of modelling?

    I firstly consider myself an actress, so modelling for me is an extension of that. I love getting into a character for a shoot and working with a team of creative people to create a beautiful set of images. I haven't always been a confident person, but modelling has helped me learn to love the skin I'm in. 


    SD: If you could give just one inspirational or/and positive quote, what quote would you give to future pageant participants?

    Don't get too caught up in the competition. At the end of the day, only one girl can be Missworld Australia but if you use the opportunity correctly, you can come away with new friendships, experiences and skills that will be with you forever. 

    Jessica's social media presence:


    Facebook Public Figure:



  • Interview with HANA in conjunction with MBFF Brisbane 2015

    I am very excited to do this interview with HANA as I was lucky enough to have witnessed her beautiful designs showcas at FASHFEST Canberra 2015. I am a big fan of her work and efforts. They are amazing designs with a touch of Persian to them. It is also Neda Alemohammad's (the designer) first time to showcase at MBFF Brisbane 2015 this year in August. I spend a few minutes with Neda interviewing her for the upcoming big Brisbane fashion event.

     SD: Neda, who and what inspires you the most in making your designs?

    I immigrated from Iran to Australia around one and half year ago and I was exposed to the pure nature of Australia. My inspiration comes from Australian nature and I integrated it with my Persian background and that's why I named my collection "Immigration" as it gives my first impression of this country.

    SD: Where did you study to pursue your dream?

    I studied IT, however I was always interested in art. I took part in some fashion courses in Canberra and I will continue it in the future. What I believe is that I need always to learn new things, as each learning gives me more passion and inspiration to create a new design.

    SD: Does fashion design run in your family?

    If so, tell me about it more. No not at all. Fashion is not very open and wide in Iran as women are dictated by government what to wear, however in recent years there are a lot of designers who try to make this obligation a bit more tolerable by making it more colourful and fashionable. I have been a fashion designer in Iran since 2007.

    SD: What should be expected differently from the collection for Fashfest Canberra 2015 to MBFF Brisbane 2015?

    I will showcase some of the collection of Fashfest but I will also add some new designs.

    SD: What are some of your short term and long term goals for your fashion design career?

    My short term goals are to learn as much as I can and improve my knowledge and business. I hope I can make myself know to Australian people by making ethical Australian made garments. My long term goal is to be an international designer.

    Above: A snippet of HANA designs at FASHFEST Canberra 2015. Photography and videography and editing by Suzanne Dang

     Find out more about HANA through these links:


    Also buy your tickets to watch HANA latest collection at MBFF Brisbane this year in the NEXT Hotel Next Gen Group Show too! I will certainly be there! :)