Fashion and investment funds may appear to exist in opposite worlds. In the case of lawyer and White + Case associate Rebecca Ling, these two industries could not be more intertwined. As her stellar career continues on its trajectory, a hyper dynamic lifestyle inspires the concept and design of her sustainable fashion brand, Parallel 51. She explains, “I felt there weren’t enough women’s clothing brands that designed clothes versatile enough to work for the office or the weekend. My wardrobe was spilling over and I wanted to pare back and design a capsule wardrobe that could do it all.”
Between legal practice, running a business and soon, caring for a new-born, Rebecca confesses that “there’s always something to do and lots going on.” Setting boundaries, she intimates, has been key in allowing her to wear several hats–and make room for me-time. She advices, “I’m not sure it’s possible to have a perfect balance, but I achieve a lifestyle that I’m happy with by setting boundaries…I think being clear about your boundaries has been essential in sustaining my day job, pursuing my passion for Parallel 51, and making time for friends, family, and myself.”
1. What keeps you busy these days?
Life is definitely non-stop these days. At the moment, I’m juggling my day job (as a lawyer) and running Parallel 51. We are also getting the house ready for our new baby who is due in under two months! Things are very exciting at the moment but there’s always something to do and lots going on.
2. How did you come to find your current career or life’s work?
I started law straight out of university and have been with the same law firm since the beginning of my career. Around 1 and a half years ago, I decided to start Parallel 51 as a creative outlet alongside my day job. I felt there weren’t enough women’s clothing brands that designed clothes versatile enough to work for the office or the weekend. My wardrobe was spilling over and I wanted to pare back and design a capsule wardrobe that could do it all.
3. What is it about your work or career that you enjoy most?
It’s been amazing launching and running Parallel 51. The best part is chatting and meeting customers and listening to what people are looking for in their wardrobe and designing pieces to meet that. It’s a constant learning curve which has been challenging but has brought a whole new dimension to my life which is refreshing after 10 years in the same profession.
4. For people who aspire for similar careers, what would be your advice?
If you’re thinking of starting your own business, there’s no time like now to start! People are often nervous to start their own business or are tied to the idea of having everything “perfect” before getting the business off the ground… But it will never be perfect to start! The hardest part is taking that first step. One big question I faced was whether to keep my day job and run Parallel 51 on the side, or quite my day job altogether. There are definitely pros and cons to both! I think that’s a personal decision that each individual makes.
5. What are the career milestones that inspire you to break the glass or mold?
I’m not sure I’d pinpoint specific career milestones, but being a lawyer, running my own business and getting ready to start a family shows me that we can do it all (if we want to!). If I think about how this has been possible, it’s a combination of things.
There are two key factors, namely, (1) having a great support network of friends and family; and (2) not being afraid to speak up and assert myself. The latter has been particularly important with my day job. It’s easy in law to burn out or be overworked because of the nature of the profession, so I think being clear about your boundaries has been essential in sustaining my day job, pursuing my passion for Parallel 51, and making time for friends, family, and myself.
6. How do you balance work and family life? What are activities that enable you to bond with family?
I’m not sure it’s possible to have a perfect balance, but I achieve a lifestyle that I’m happy with by setting boundaries. I’m also very grateful to have supportive and understanding friends and family. This makes a world of difference.
I LOVE hiking – this is a regular activity on the weekend, and I walk up the peak most days. I have two dogs which helps keep me motivated.
7. What is your self care indulgence? How do you treat yourself or reward yourself at the end of each day or long work week?
Sitting on the sofa and watching TV! Probably doesn’t sound very interesting but when my brain has been so over-active all day, there’s nothing better than watching a reality TV show or something similar. I’m thinking Love is Blind, Selling Sunset etc. Definitely my guilty pleasure!!
8. What is everyday luxury for you? Kindly share an example.
I’d say the luxury of time is my main luxury. I’m not sure I have this luxury every day, but when I do have this, it’s priceless.
9. How would you describe your personal style? What are three your wardrobe essentials?
I definitely have more of a “London-style” since that’s where I was born and raised. So I don’t wear a ton of colour and keep styling simple. I like to add interest with accessories. I’m also a fan of layering, with different textured fabrics.
Since living in Hong Kong for the past seven years, I’ve definitely added a few more quirky elements. I’m low key obsessed with animal ankle socks. For a casual weekend look, I’m a big fan of a matching sweatshirt and sweat pant set. I tend to wear a lot of these with my Reebok classics.
10. What comprises a good investment piece? Kindly cite examples of pieces in your current wardrobe.
Definitely pieces that are simple and timeless. Items that are versatile enough to style for different occasions will also give you much more mileage. I find that choosing pieces in your “go-to” colour palette are also the ones that will stand the test of time. They are better investment options. A good pair of jeans is also a must for me. Parallel 51 is all about wardrobe essentials that you can wear and re-wear so our collection makes great investment options. It’s one of our key focuses.
11. Why are pearls special to you?
Pearls are definitely a classic and timeless choice which I have no doubt are the go-to choice for many.