HOLDING Redlich lawyer Laura Chong is putting her best foot forward in all aspects of her life – and you bet it’s wrapped up in a designer shoe.
The construction and infrastructure lawyer is the designer behind The 400 Co, a fashion line with the aim of taking female professionals from work to play in the most stylish of ways.
The 400 Co recently celebrated its first birthday with a fashion show at the Loft West End to launch its new collection ‘It’s A Woman’s World’, gearing up for its debut at Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival in Brisbane later this year.
It has attracted a following in the local legal and corporate community and expanded its reach down the east coast through Sydney and Melbourne.
Chong’s fashion show earlier this month brought together a number of Holding Redlich professionals, including construction and infrastructure partner Janelle Kerrisk and senior associate Kirsty Smith, and legal secretary Kate Alderson.
Kerrisk emceed the event, Alderson modelled the collection, and Smith showed off her own creative flair by assembling watercolour and mixed media artworks inspired by the collection.
Chong says her legal skills deliver an advantage when it comes to making business decisions, but being trained to think analytically can be a detriment to the creative process.
“Being a lawyer gives you the skills to negotiate business deals, make decisions fast and an understanding of how to effectively pitch ideas to the business community,” says Chong.
“Commercial cases have also taught me that sometimes preserving a relationship with the client is far more beneficial than winning a case, wisdom which is of value when it comes to customer service.
“However, it can be difficult when I need to take my analytical head out of the game and focus on making an emotional connection with customers – being a lawyer doesn’t teach you to market ideas in a way that will appeal to someone’s human side.
“Although, the design process comes quite naturally to me, and I find it easy to develop garments once I have identified the inspiration behind a collection.”
Chong plans to continue juggling her legal and fashion careers, based on the realisation that work-life balance isn’t about compromising one over the other.
“I quickly realised after starting to practice law that the elusive concept of work-life balance isn’t so much about reducing your working hours, but maximising your non-working hours by strictly focusing on things that make you happy,” says Chong.
She also says it is important for those in demanding careers to find outlets outside of the office that address mental health and wellbeing.
“There are some things the law offers me that The 400 Co doesn’t and vice versa – they both balance out perfectly at this point.”
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