There's no question that fashion and beautiful locations are a match well made, but amongst a number of New Zealand bloggers Angela Pan shines. With her eye for style, and vast amount of experience, she photographs all over the world in some of the most beautiful locations.
Angela is a passionate travel and style blogger. Her content is focused on a matter close to her heart, the petite or shorter woman. Her strong and ever-growing following on Instagram, and a recent Miss FQ Influencer nomination, show her making waves with a relaxed but refined, but timeless style. You can check out Angela's flawless feed here on Instagram!
20 Questions with blogger Angela Pan | Panapetite
How did Panapetite start and why?
I started ‘Panapetite’ just over a year ago, because I felt it was time to build my own platform. I loved travelling a lot, and posted my images on Instagram for my friends and family. People were often telling me how they loved seeing all the amazing places I went to. That was the point when I realised that other people were really enjoying my pictures as much as enjoyed creating them. I felt my work was strong enough to put out there for more people to see. I decided to start by building a platform for my work, so I could add to it continuously. I had a passion for styling in fashion pretty much ever since I was born! It’s not just about knowing what looks pretty, I think it’s important to know what looks good and why. To make your legs look longer, or accentuate certain parts of your body. That’s when I was decided I could combine travel and fashion together. All travel bloggers need that nice outfit along with a beautiful location, because it helps to create the perfect image!
So ‘Panapetite’ the name, how did that come about?
It actually just came about one morning. I was trying to form a brand for myself at the time. I woke up and in a moment I thought of it! It just seemed to fit. Pan is my surname. Angela is my first name. ‘Petite’ because I'm petite. So, ‘Panapetite’. I held onto it for quite a while, then I wrote it down and ran it by a few people to be sure.
So what does true style mean to you. Your idea of style?
It is something I don’t have to force. It's something that comes to me naturally. I get inspiration from fashion and magazines, ongoing trends. But at the same time, if that’s not you, why put it on? You're not a mannequin in the store, just because it looks good on the mannequin doesn’t mean it will on you. Dress to how you feel looks good, but always to an extent! True style is about trying different things. Just be brave about it, there really are no rules about how you should wear a pair of jeans, or how you should wear a jumper. Turn it into a dress, or a crop top. I’ve used jumpers as a scarf before. It's just about authentic style. I know everyone says it but it's true, if you try to be someone else you are not going to look confident, you don't look comfortable. If you can't rock an outfit, what’s the point?
How would you describe the aesthetics of your specific style?
I always buy separates. It’s probably because of my proportions - shorter torso, longer legs so dresses don't work on me because they bunch at the waist. That’s why I've just never bought dresses because they rarely fit me. It’s where my habits probably have come from - mixing and matching separates. I hate to repeat my outfits, I have to learn to match different separates together. Then that's how I create completely different outfits. I could be in the same top, and it could be a very distinct top. But when you pair it with jeans versus pants, a different coat or accessories. Stilettos versus sneakers. Each look is so different. I think that's where my style developed because thanks to my parents, I have a short body. [Laughs]
So you're inspired by the body that you have, does that become a fun and challenging process to style yourself?
I gave myself a challenge at one point, where I didn’t do the laundry until my clothes ran out. So, I just wanted to see what I could do by not repeating my clothes. That had mixed results! I put things together that I would never have imagined would work. Sometimes it really didn’t work and turned to custard, and sometimes it was really good! So you learn. It’s okay to mistakes. I don’t look good all the time. I’m not a 24/7 fashionista!
I don't think anybody is. Sometimes you can have a great idea, but it would look better on a different person with different proportions?
Exactly right. Which ties back to the previous question, True style is really about what you can rock. Not necessarily what the trends are.
What has been the hardest part about creating your blog?
Creating a website for the blog was a real obstacle because I started with nothing, and decided to do it myself. I didn’t like any of the templates online, so I started with a blank template and that took me like a months and months to perfect. It’s been really hard to create my platform but it’s worth the hard work.
In terms of your imagery and branding, were there any challenges there?
Nothing is easy, there’s a lot of hard work involved. You’ll encounter obstacles all the time like with clients, collaborators and the locations. Things just don't go your way, the weather isn't right, the photographer doesn’t work out, your photos don’t turn out well, or you’re not satisfied with your content. I think challenges will come all the time, but I'm an optimistic person. That’s how I get by in life.
Is there anything you would change about your journey?
To be honest no, it might sound like I’ve got it all but I don’t. I like learning from my mistakes, because it makes whatever I achieve so much greater. If I got it right the first time it probably wouldn’t be as good as my second go. Failure makes me better. I feel like I actually learn from my mistakes by failing, then I understand it fully through the process of perfecting the results. Failure is an opportunity to master the process.
How do you feel the New Zealand fashion industry has influenced your work?
I love our designers and I've worked with some amazing ones - Trelise Cooper, Zambesi, RUBY, and so many others. But my style comes from overseas. New Zealand is so far away that the trends just don't get here quick enough. Trends I’ve worn two years ago are only just hitting here now! I was born in Shanghai, so I’ve always had this big city life in me. I love New Zealand, but in terms of fashion I’ve seen the bigger world and I feel like we’re still part of a smaller industry. Our quality is top notch, our designers are genuinely passionate about what they create. That defines New Zealand really well, but I am influenced more by international designers.
How accessible is the New Zealand fashion industry for bloggers and what needs to change?
I feel like this industry is still quite limited. Unless you have connections, it’s so hard to get in. I think that’s why I love travel so much. When you travel you go and meet new people, so you’re open to new experiences, and so are the people I meet. That's what travel is about. The majority of my followers are from the U.S and the U.K, and that’s where my blogger friends are too. They're just so open, the industry is much bigger because there's so many of them there. So they support each other. I’ve recently had some great experiences with local fashion brands, but we need to bring more of that here to New Zealand.
Have you experienced much criticism how did you handle it?
I’ve had photographers comment on my photos that I’ve taken for other people. I remember one occasion where someone left a whole list of criticisms on my image, assuming a lot of the decisions I made were accidental. That was the only time I’m aware of, but it was the first time and quite early on too, so it affected me because the work was for a big client. I am human, it got to me initially, but I realise now that everyone is going to have an opinion of your work, not everyone is going to like you, or want to work with you and I'm OK with that. I always try to be direct, I’m clear about what I expect from people, and what I need. At the end of the day, the client loved the image! Overall though, I've been pretty lucky. The people around me have been really, really good to me and there’s always just been so much support.
So how has your style changed over the time you've been blogging and what’s influenced that?
It would be a lie if I said that stores, magazines and beautiful Instagram pages don’t inspire me because they do. I guess it just all merges together in my mind. So, I think my style has evolved. I think partly, it was also that I just grew up. With age your style changes, and you realise you can’t wear the same things anymore. To an extent! Starting my own venture I became a lot more mature. Especially over the last couple of years, I have changed from a girl to a woman. And when you become a woman, it is honestly a completely different mindset. You see yourself differently and for me, I became a lot more feminine. I’m definitely wearing more tailored things too. My style is continually changing. For example I will wear a pair of skinny jeans with stilettos with a really snug sweater on top. I put comfort into my style. I’m definitely more chic than high street wear. That’s why I focus on lifestyle fashion and travel.
You have such variety to your outfits, some are more whimsical and you've got others that are a lot more earthy. Some that are more relaxed, and then others that are more refined. So you have a few different looks you encompass, how do you make that work?
One day I can dress for the office, full tailored blazer, pants and stilettos. Then I could be in streetwear with my sneakers and my ripped jeans and a big baggy sweater and my cap on backwards. I don't know what others think of in terms of defining my style - But I dress for the weather, how I feel, where I’m going.
What is your favourite travel destination being so far?
It’ll be Hawaii or the Maldives, I am so tempted by beach destinations, resorts and relaxation. The Maldives were just honestly so untouched. It’s a place that not a lot of people go, it's not as commercialised as places like Fiji. You go there solely for relaxation. Which is fantastic! I remember one of the beaches there, and it was just beautiful. We went there on a private jet and that was surreal. The whole time we were there we got the best of the best, the food, service, the whole experience. The sand was like white powder. It was in the middle of this blue ocean, just clear sky, blue sea. Because it is so untouched, it was definitely an experience.
So what inspires you about the places you travel to and how does style play a role in that? How do you connect the fashion with the destination?
So one of my favourite parts of blogging is before I travel when I plan my outfits. I google the places I'm going to go to. I constantly research, looking at images of what my hotel room looks like or my resort. Local experiences, their culture. It’s so important to know what patterns will work, what kind of colours. Every place is different, if you visit China you'll probably dress very chic, wearing white and red shades. If you go to Africa you want to capture the bright colours. So for example when I went to the Maldives, I wanted something with a beachy, relaxed boho feel. My moodboard was full of patterns and tropical inspiration. I like to reflect my environments. Then I jump into the scene and voila!
A lot of your viewers probably would love to know you actually set up your shots, especially if you've never been to the place before. It must be a bit daunting setting up somewhere completely new. What's your process like?
I’m the type of person who gets so excited before a trip that I'm researching from even a month before hand. Because I do that, I already have my shots planned. Every time I go somewhere I plan in advance the shots I want to create in that certain place, and that’s how I plan my outfits. My clothes tie into the environments because I do the preparation beforehand.
So what do you do when things don’t work out? If your luggage goes missing or something goes wrong. What do you do, how do you cope with that?
Recently I was shooting for a brand post, and I struggled for two days with it. I just wasn’t getting the shot I wanted. It wasn’t what I envisioned. I could see it in my mind but I couldn’t bring it into reality. I was mad as hell! I do sometimes get upset initially, I'm not going to lie. I'm still human. I will react to it. I'm not always calm, and my foresight doesn’t always guarantee everything will work out. Because sometimes things happen, factors that you can't control. So if my shot isn’t looking like what I imagined, and ends up looking scruffy it’s okay. I just find an alternative. I can sometimes be impatient but that means that if there's a problem I don’t dwell on it. There's always plan B!
What pressures do you experience as a style and travel blogger?
Every blog post, especially if it's a paid collaboration. It’s easy to feel the pressure of being good enough. Many companies give you fantastic briefs and direct you to what they are looking for so that you understand their expectations, but it can still be hard. Even once you build up that reputation of good content, you need to keep it up. I work really hard, but the expectations from followers can also be a bit of a pressure.
How do you combat that? Do you just ignore those thoughts and work through it?
It's always in the back of my mind but I try to keep two things in mind. Don’t forget your own style. There's only so much ‘pinteresting’ and ‘moodboarding’ you can do before you lose your own aesthetic and your brand. So that's really important not to let go, but at the same time make sure you meet the client’s brief because if they're paying, then you are working for them and it can’t just be all about you.
So it’s a business strategy where you're ticking the boxes, using foresight and planning?
Yes, but sometimes you will try something different and it can pay off. This happened to me in a recent collaboration with Hyatt in Maui Hawaii. I was sent on a sponsored trip to photograph the private cabanas. They're little private VIP areas, where you can relax by yourself, and they’ll serve you cocktails rather than lounging next to the pool with anyone else. So that was what I had to push. They gave me the most amazing pineapple cocktails and I got really carried away. I took so many photos of those at the beach, that I forgot about the damn cabanas! I got enough, but it wasn’t until I got home I realised I had captured one-third cabanas and two thirds cocktails! But the company ended up really loving my work, because between my style and the setting it created such a nice atmosphere. The finished images turned out beautifully. I need to remind myself to stick to my style, because that’s why clients come to me to work together.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
My boyfriend once said to me, always remember your roots. So every time I go somewhere now, I'm going to take them with me. We all came from somewhere, and I started from the bottom so I feel it’s really important to always remain humble. People get a bit crazy about their social media stats and opportunities, that kind of competitiveness is not healthy. Yes, Instagram is a huge part of how I build my platform, and sometimes I focus too much on the numbers. It’s a huge part of my job as an influencer. But I do need to remind myself to reel it back every now and again. Surround yourself with kind people. It doesn't matter if they’re successful or not. If they're kind and mean well, surround yourself with those people. Just be self-aware. At the end of the day we're in control of our own life. Bad things happen. You need to get over it though. You have the control to choose so that you can have a better life. Having the right mindset really helps.
What is a common misconception that others often have about bloggers. How do you deal with that?
Even though I'm new to the blogging world there is definitely a misconception that our life is fantastic, that we live the dream and especially that it comes so easily. We make it look like that because it's our job. It is what we do. The amount of editing, styling and photography work that goes into every image is huge. You have to wake up before everyone else, and finish your set before everyone gets up - in order to make sure that no one else is in your shot. All the professional travel bloggers, shoot at 5 or 6 in the morning at sunrise, before everyone else wakes up. But it it's not easy especially when it’s travel. For a recent image that I took in Hawaii, I wanted to create it amongst the clouds at the top of the mountain. I had to get up at 2am to be there for the 5am sunrise and catch the shot. It was 4 degrees celsius at the time! I did end up with a beautiful result but I planned it months in advance, with a lot of work. That’s only the shooting aspect. Our lives aren't always great, and certainly not easy. One photo on Instagram, is probably more than six hours of work combined. If you want to include sourcing outfits, styling and makeup, shooting and editing. With clothing brands, they give you a season in advance, so you are shooting spring gear in winter. Then burning up in summer, because you’re in autumn or winter pieces. You’d be surprised at how much is at stake, so many travel bloggers have fatal accidents, trying to get the perfect shot even at the edge of cliffs. So there is literally blood sweat and tears involved. The majority of us bloggers really work for the results we create. It's about recognition, and that's why when I had the Hyatt project I did such a grateful post. It is something that you have to be humble about, and I am so thankful. When someone recognises and acknowledges my work and wants to work with me, it’s such a great feeling to know that my hard work has paid off. It’s about what goes on behind the scenes, and I just want people to be aware.
I think we have this real issue in New Zealand, especially for girls with skills who worry about boasting or being perceived as arrogant. I think as women we do need to encourage each other, it’s not boasting. It’s about being matter of fact. Being able to say, I am good at this thing, I am proud. We shouldn’t be ashamed of that. What is your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
I feel like my biggest failure in the beginning was my photography skills. My strong suit is not with the camera. I just have a clear vision and a good eye for composition. I know the basic technical skills, but I'm not as skilled as other professional photographers. People still pay me for my work though. I have learned that once people have seen my work, if they're willing to pay for it at my rate then that’s success. Maybe my biggest failure is that my expectations are too high, which makes me doubt myself. I guess it all comes down to that I don't care what people think of me, to an extent. I do care. But I'm also going to continue to be me.
What was your greatest success or your proudest moment?
Proudest moment was landing my first ever collab! They didn't even pay me. They gave me free swimsuits but when they wanted to work with me I was so over the moon, because I didn’t even have a thousand followers then. Every time I land a collab now I still get so excited. I never expect anything. If I reach out and a collab doesn't go ahead it's alright, it doesn’t feel like a waste of my time. At least a brand has my name and they have seen my platform so in future they know I’m here.
What do you do when you're not working or blogging?
I don’t know when I'm not! I just enjoy some downtime, Netflix is great! Spending time with my family. Chilling with my boyfriend, chilling with my friends. Usually when I'm not blogging or working I just need to relax. I’m pretty much working 24/7, but to me it doesn't feel like work. It's very easy to forget my social life though, because my head is in it so much I don’t get a lot of time for myself. I also love music, and singing. When everyone is out of the house, I love singing really loudly in my bedroom, with the speakers up! That’s really fun.
Who are your biggest influences, who do you admire most?
In the blogging industry we inspire and influence one another. There is no particular person that I look up to most, it’s about being inspired by all sorts of bloggers from my all over the world. One blogger that I’m also friends with is Nicola from Polkadot Passport. She's a travel blogger too. Literally the first time I saw her Instagram, I had a massive girl crush on her because her feed was so amazing. She was one of the first girls in her genre. When I started my blog and was in the process of launching it, I turned to her with my ideas which was an awesome help.
What is your biggest strength and weakness?
I like to do a lot of work and I hate not to be busy. I like to pack my schedule. I love working constantly which is a strength, because I'm building my brand. I always get things done, but it can be a weakness because I do so much that sometimes I just crash. It probably has something to do with my impulsive personality and my impatience to achieve my goals. I like to get things done straight away. It keeps me moving forward, but sometimes it drags me down.
What’s next for you?
Continuously building my blog! I am looking forward to starting on YouTube and moving into video, once I build my Instagram and Facebook. I think that’s a really nice way of capturing movement so that’s my next big step. Having my own label is my long term goal, because I will need the budget and the experience. It’ll definitely take time and a lot of investment so I won't do it until I'm really really confident. I have thought about working with another brand to create a petite range. The word petite is actually really misunderstood. People think petite means skinny, but petite is a height thing as petite girls are generally under 5 foot 4. It does not mean you have to be a small dress size, it's a height issue. It’s nice to have maxi dresses that we can buy that don't drag on the floor like a bridal train!
There does seem to be a fair bit of backlash with the positive body image movement, to smaller or petite girls, do you experience much of that?
I have very tiny bones, so am sensitive to putting on weight and when I'm eating unhealthy I feel unhealthy. Often when I mention it I get a negative response from a lot of people, telling me how I should feel about myself. But I'm not saying that I'm fat, it’s a lifestyle choice. I want to feel good in my body and when I take care of myself I do.
What do you want your legacy to be, how do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered for the way I turned a flaw into a brand. I embrace who I am now. I've been called short my whole life, but try I use my optimistic attitude now to turn it into a positive thing, I've made that my name. Now I will make sure that the petite community is heard, I am going to rock this world, and I'm going to rock the word petite!
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Photographer. Creator. Dreamer ♥