THE TAIPEI EXCHANGE - THE FULL RECAP
Since the beginning, I've described The WW Club as 'a space for working women worldwide' and to quote Dipset (because why not?) I really mean it. I launched The Club in a basement in downtown L.A. and since then we've met everywhere from salons in Paris, to boutiques in Brooklyn, to rooms with views on 100 in my hometown of London. I've always believed in venturing into the unknown as bravely as you can and keeping it moving - whether that be literally or figuratively - at all costs. My ambitions for The WW Club hopefully reflect those values.
With that in mind, I've been in a state of professional wanderlust for some time. My desire to spread the spirit of collaboration, community, and creativity that The WW Club is built on extends far beyond my personal holy triumvirate of London, L.A. and New York. That's why I'm so happy to say that I can now add Taipei to the list of cities on The WW Club map, having ventured there last week for our first event in Asia (but certainly not our last).
The occasion was The Taipei Exchange: a four-day cross cultural exchange hosted in collaboration with SUITCASE Magazine and W Taipei that brought together a group of successful creative women from UK, US and Taiwan, with the goal of sharing ideas, insights, and support. Read on for a full recap of the week's events...
The idea took root before Christmas, when SUITCASE's founder Serena Guen (my first ever podcast guest!) and I were talking about places and spaces over a late night drink after The WW Club's Business of Travel event at Urban Cowboy B&B in New York. I think we both must've recently read the same article showing dreamy surf beaches with jade green waters on Taiwan's south coast, because we were similarly entranced. I'd also read about the then-imminent election of Tsai Ing-Wen - now Taiwan's president and the most powerful woman in the Chinese-speaking world - and was intrigued by what that might mean for women in working in this largely off-radar sovereign state.
And so we hatched a slightly crazy plan to take a group of women working across the creative fields in the UK and US - myself and Serena included - and head to Taipei to see what we could discover about the city from the women who are shaping its future. We asked Madeline Poole (the super-successful nail artist MP NAILS, and also my friend and officemate), Olivia Lopez (the founder of beautiful travel/style site Lustforlife.com) and Alice Levine (Radio 1 DJ host with the most, and co-founder of London-based supper club Jackson & Levine) to join us, and we were lucky to be joined by an amazing line-up of Taiwanese women on the ground: Florence Lu (Editor-in-Chief, ELLE Taiwan / Chief Content Officer, Hearst Magazines Taiwan), Leslie Sun (Founder of SUNSET), Wina Chen (Director of Operational Excellence of W Taipei and co-founder of MR. MEAT), Musee Wu (Co-Founder Executive Director of A&M Global Creative), Wei-Shuan Chang (Founder of Womany.net). W Taipei were kind enough to believe in and host our concept - a huge thank you everyone to on W's Asia Pacific team for helping us bring our idea to life.
Over the course of four days, we explored Taipei from the heights of the glossy Taipei 101 (until recently, the world's tallest building) to the lowkey charms of historic old Taipei. We visited a city temple, wandered around the charming tree-lined streets of Minsheng, and navigated the fluro lights of the nightmarkets in a jetlagged haze. The hospitality from the W Taipei team was unlike anything I've ever experienced before - a huge thank you to Wina, Charlene, Vivian, Sally, Carice, and Kate, we miss you already! - who patiently answered our endless questions and fed us dumplings until we all began to look and feel like a basket of steamed siu mai.
We also splintered off into separate groups to see the side of Taipei that related to our respective careers - a food tour for Alice; a beauty day for Madeline; and an exploration of design and creative culture for myself and Olivia - with some serious production help from Taipei-based writer Stephanie Hsu (thanks Stephanie) Stay tuned for our findings via The WW Club blog and, of course. SUITCASEmag.com.
Last but not least was The Taipei Exchange itself: a two-part discussion at W Taipei, moderated by myself and featuring our full panel of British, American, and Taiwanese Working Women sharing their thoughts on travel, work, and the future of both. With the help of an incredible Chinese translator, we were able to exchange ideas in front of an audience of 120 guests: not the easiest conversation I've ever moderated, but one of the most rewarding by far.