You may not have heard of the fledgling manufacturer Ziqi Home Fashion yet…but you will! Founded by Lisa Qu, a sharp entrepreneur with a background in French luxury brands, her New York City-based company offers reasonably priced table lamps in a fresh look with quality materials. Next up for this up-and-coming brand is a debut into lighting fixtures (and maybe furniture) within one year. enLIGHTenment Magazine sat down with Lisa Qu exclusively to learn more about Ziqi Home Fashion.
enLIGHTenment Magazine: What is your background?
Lisa Qu: Growing up in a northern city in China (Tianjin), I didn’t have computer games or smart phones. My activities after school included dancing, hand embroidery, crochet, and chess. I’ve always been creative and enjoyed doing something different from everyone else. For example, my sisters loved to make colorful embroidered floral patterns for their pillowcases, but I preferred to have only green leaves on mine. I have always liked designs that are simple, clean, and serene. I didn’t really consider a career in the design industry until I was an adult and working for a French fashion company. I moved to New York in 2006.
EM: How did you get started?
LQ: I was a buying/product developer for Quidem S.A., a French fashion company that designs the brand of “Providence.” Later, I was the vp/Production for Vent D’ouest, the French fashion company that owns the labels Christian Dior and Baby Dior and also handles the production of Petit Bateau and Jacadi. From both of those jobs, I not only learned the complicated process of creating collections, but also to trust my intuition.
EM: How did you transition into lighting?
LQ: I have always been intrigued by lighting products, whether it was repainting old lamps I’d find or making my own lampshades. I love lamps not only because they can easily decorate a space with a certain mood, but also because of what they mean to me: energy, prosperity, and warmth. Coincidently my Chinese name means “Light.” I believe it’s my destiny to bring lights, energy, and love to people and their homes.
Coming from the fashion world, I didn’t know how things worked in the lighting industry. Through the process of learning the industry and asking for help, I got to know a few industry veterans who have generously provided me with their valuable advice and experiences to guide me through my lighting career. I’ve also made friends with fellow lighting industry entrepreneurs with whom I share resources, ideas, and encouragement.
People in this industry are amazing! They are talented, hard-working, generous, and motivated. I’m very grateful and feel lucky to be surrounded and guided by these amazing people.
EM: What does your design process entail?
LQ: I get inspirations from everywhere, but mostly from fashion and architecture. For example, our Vivid collection was inspired by fashion elements and uses lots of graphics and colors. Our Wood Wonder collection is heavily influenced by geometric forms and architectural buildings, and our Coco Ring lamps were inspired by a piece of jewelry.
My focus and fussiness about the proportion of each style comes from my years of experience in ballet. Dancing and designing lamps are both satisfying to me, as they are two different ways that I can express myself to the world. When I operate my own business today, I constantly remind myself to listen to my heart; it has never failed to lead me in the right direction.
EM: What has been the biggest challenge?
LQ: In the fashion world, you need to stand out and be bold. In lighting, people want the lamps to blend in. That was the biggest surprise for me. My style was to create something never seen before and that stands out in your home! I thought my products should be something that grabs your attention and be completely stunning, but I learned a big lesson. I switched to designing lighting products that are warm, pleasing, and unique yet compatible with many environments. It makes me so happy to design something that people like and feel comfortable with. To succeed, we need to do what we do best — create fabulous lighting products while being motivated, honest, and patient.
Having the manpower to do everything is another challenge. Fortunately, I took on a summer intern last summer – Cindy Rojas – who has proved to be an invaluable asset to my company and the efficiency of our operations. In fact, I hired her full-time after her internship was over!
EM: Which categories would you like to explore next?
LQ: I love Mid-Century Modern furniture and would love to do accent furniture at some point. That would allow me to use my fashion sense fully and get creative with colors and graphics. I tested the waters recently by upholstering an Ikea chair with one of my lampshade fabric. It’s a deep crimson color with gold crackled bubble graphics on it. It is displayed at the retail store Just Shades in SoHo (New York City) and people love it!
By the end of the year, I’d like to introduce our first lighting fixture collection, which will include wall sconces and pendants. I also plan to launch Ziqi One, which would be a branded collection aimed at younger clients and featuring clean designs and vibrant colors. I also will continue to be involved in community projects that give back to the community by donating products to local educational organizations, schools, and daycare facilities.
EM: Where can we see Ziqi Home Fashion in person?
LQ: We have been exhibiting at the High Point Market for the past year and will continue to do so at The Suites at Market Square. We have representation in three states and are currently interviewing agencies to handle additional states.