When I was born, my parents offered me to our childless neighbours (accepted practice in rural Taiwan fifty years ago). They rejected me saying "I was too dark, skinny and ugly!" Straight talkers us Chinese. It's ironic then that my whole professional life has been devoted to expressions of beauty. That kind of beauty where physical and emotional energy are so connected we feel an inner light is switched on.
My parents were illiterate farmers and I grew up as the last of ten siblings, literally in a mud hut, so that when it rained outside, it rained inside too. I only had one pair of shoes, which I could only wear when I went to school. Otherwise, I spent all my time barefoot. Today my husband laughs at my feet because I can use them like hands and pick things up around the house.
I used to climb up a tree just in front of the rice field at the back of our mud house. I would look at the land around me and think the world was so beautiful, pure and nothing's impossible. I could sit next to my father and not talk for hours, whilst still feeling as if we were communicating. It was a very powerful sense of being present through stillness and silence. Together with my sisters we would gather all the left over fruits and vegetables to make skin potions which we would then put on our faces, hair and bodies. Farm girls want to look beautiful too!
Fast-forward ten years and I'm a dance student at the Taipei University of the Arts (I was the first female in my family to make it past high school education). It was no surprise to me that I fell passionately in love with the most wonderful form of non-verbal expression - dance. One evening, whilst washing my dance clothes, I bent over and my back seized up completely. I went to see a famous Chinese doctor and through the power of touch he cured me. All through that time I realized how unhappy the human body could be when it is shut down, blocked, stagnated and unable to express itself. It's a dark miserable place but the genius of the master's hands was able to restore my inner light. I discovered a second love. I must have absorbed something as my clients tell me I have magic hands when they one of my facials.
Throughout the next ten years I enjoyed working with some of the most famous world class dance companies in Europe. Dance is one of those things where you lose and find yourself at the same time. It's the perfect mix of instinct and science. I can truly say it's been the inspiration for my skincare range and philosophy. It's about "effortless power", something you will find in my facial and skin products.
I retired from dance in my late thirties after the birth of my first daughter. I have two girls - the second is a little angel I adopted from China. We moved from Europe back to my husband's home in London. He was also a dancer and is now a famous dance producer. At this time, my second love - shiatsu and the power of touch took over. I can't do anything unless I make it an art form and this approach resulted in the creation of my own shiatsu inspired facial technique.
Soon after, a series of beautiful accidents happened. Perhaps the biggest was a chance meeting with the actress Juliette Binoche. In fact she came in for a facial on recommendation. I told her that her skin quality was poor and a little saggy. She naturally took offence. We Chinese are straight talkers...remember my neighbours?! A year later she got back in touch and I ended up being her personal facialist for five years. Truth goes a long way!
Two years ago I had to train the Indian actress Frieda Pinto to dance for a new film (I still dance and on occasion train people). I asked her before we started to come for a facial so I could understand what she needed for her dance training. She thought it odd but indulged me. Three months later I turned her into a beautiful swan and she understood what I meant. It freed her in ways she could not imagine.
As a former dancer and now a facialist plus creator of my own skincare line, there are no changes of direction for me. It feels like a natural continuation of my love affair with beauty inside and out. The principles are exactly the same. I'm just expressing them differently.
I've never been scared of anything in my life until the word "business" came along, when I decided to create skincare products that replicated my facial experience for a wider market. It's hard to find artistry in this experience though my husband would disagree. I don't have a business bone in my body however I am learning. I'm lucky to have a very talented team of people behind me.
The most important thing for me is to continue creating skincare that I believe in. My life is a journey of discovery. I and doing things that excite and inspire me, which hopefully in turn makes me a better person. It's an expression of who I am. Nothing more and nothing less!
Su-Man's skincare line is available to buy at http://su-man.com/html/index.php