I’m a Chinese-American. I was born in Qingdao, China. I had a baby stroke when I was seven months old, and completely lost my hearing as a result – my doctor told my mom I could not hear and speak in my future. I was one of the first patients in China to get cochlear implants. Back then it was a new type of operation. I had to work extremely hard to achieve what is easy for everyone else. I lost my childhood. While other children were playing, I practiced speaking for sixteen hours per day for five years.
I was so lucky to have met so many great people who influenced me – my teachers, family, and friends who helped me and always supported me. When I was 18 years old, I took the initiative to move to the United States. My family moved because of me. It was a very challenging time for me because English was my second language. Almost all teachers in my school – Great Neck North High School – said that I can’t get a high school diploma in the next two years and have to go back to China or transfer to another high school. But I believed that I could do it. So, I took an extra year to pass five exams and got a high school diploma. They said it’s impossible, but I proved them wrong. I then went on to Parsons school of fashion design for two years and later transferred to the School of Visual Arts (SVA) because it was a better match. I am currently in my senior year here, studying Fine Arts. However, I did not give up on my dream of being a fashion designer.
God blessed me with a gift for visual art. I loved colors very much from a young age and got some art awards and art shows when I was a little girl. I felt so much happier when I was drawing – what I could not express in words as a deaf child, I was able to depict in my art. Last year, I was a recipient of a VSA award from Kennedy Art Center, and my sculpture – “The Cow” – is currently crisscrossing America a 24-month on tour. I could drawing, painting, ceramics, sewing, sculpture, photography, jewelry, and fashion design. I wanted to bring my art into the fashion world.
As a kid, I dressed up my Barbie dolls by making dresses from colorful fabrics for them from scratch. As an adult, trying to find my niche in the world of fashion design, I wanted to help more people afford high-quality clothes with a good pattern. I got to know difficulties, so I could understand that other people also deal with difficulties, such as financial hardships.
I studied fashion design at Parsons, F.I.T. and Saint Central Martins. I created the brand of Carol Cao two years ago. At that time, I just finished my freshmen year and traveled to Spain by myself in the summer. I shopped in Barcelona, I explored new European shopping malls every day, and witnessed a lot of famous brands of beauty and luxury – but they were very expensive. I wanted to enable more people to wear high-quality, comfortable – yet affordable clothes. My goal is to make people happy and help them save money.
I want to bring my artistic soul into fashion design to give people beauty and comfort, to make them feel proud of themselves in their soul when they dress affordably. Everything in our life is an element of art because art is life.