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Interview with The Haute Pursuit

Posted November 24, 2015

Find The Haute Pursuit’s recommendations for bars, cafes and restaurants on our app Supper.

Vanessa Hong is business-minded, focused, and safe to say, a workaholic. It’s with these formidable qualities that she’s built and continues to grow the coveted fashion blog & e-commerce site The Haute Pursuit.

Since starting her blog in 2010, the 31-year-old has amassed a cult social following by creating unique content, and that content has a lot to do with her restrained but luxurious signature style. Dressed mostly in black, white, gray & blue with sharp lines and few patterns, her ensembles are minimalist and clean.

And that aesthetic extends beyond her sartorial choices to the places she’s photographed, which you can peruse at length courtesy of her hugely popular Instagram account. With a cool color palette oozing luxury in each post, we’re envious of Vanessa’s life, which appears like a high-fashion photoshoot than real life.  

We spoke to Vanessa about fashion & curation, the NYC work ethic, and why ‘weeding out the bullshit’ is so integral to succeeding in an over-saturated blogger market. 

The Haute Pursuit is so beautifully styled & curated. What’s your inspiration?
I think this is a tricky question. I try really hard to work in a cocoon of sorts because I don’t want to absorb too much of what is going on outside of me. I like to grow and create organically. I work with a lot of inspiring people who educate me on fashion & art; I try to see as much art as possible, & travel definitely helps with the process.

How would you describe the vibe of THP in one word & can you relate it to a vibe of eating out in NY?
I’d say restrained. Restraint goes hand-in-hand with minimalism I think, which is a common theme running through most of my work. If I can parlay that into restaurant talk, I’d liken it to a pared-down eatery – nothing fancy, no fluff, no pomp; just really honest, good cooking.

What are your tips for people who want to get into blogging or develop a cult IG following?
Content is King – I think you really have to offer something of value to your viewer. Today’s user is so proficient at weeding out the bullshit – there really isn’t any room to fake it. All I know is that I do what I love and that has been the driving force of my career & life.

What do you consider to be the highlight of your career?
Every day being able to wake up to do what I dreamed of doing as a child – that’s my reward. Peaks are reached and surpassed, so I don’t want to define my career by any moment because it’s constantly in flux (and getting better!)

When did you realize you could do this for a living?
Pretty early on. I’ve always had a knack for business – I’m a 4th generation entrepreneur so it’s sorta in my blood. Readers and users are today’s digital foot traffic – the moment you realize how to harness all this, is when things start clicking.

You travel a lot with your work on your blog. What is important to you in finding great places to eat?
I use apps on my phone. In China I use Dianping -basically Yelp on steroids! But generally apps are just a starting point for me–I love going where the locals go, so this my ultimate ‘compass’.

Do you find yourself returning to the same places, or are you always hunting for something new?
I’m a creature of habit, but I love discovering new places too (hence the need of the apps above). If I’m in a city where food culture is King (like say Taiwan or Paris) then I try to go to as many new places as possible, because everything is good.

What foods are you currently obsessed with? Do you have any guilty pleasures in NY?
I’m generally a very, very healthy person – mostly green, but when it gets cold I love fatty fishes – so right now, obsessed with salmon belly, tuna belly (best lightly grilled to release the oils)

My guilty pleasures are Hong Kong-nese pastries – I usually double up with a BBQ pork bun followed by a Pineapple bun. Don’t tell anyone!

You’re originally from Vancouver, then you lived in Beijing and now New York. What brought you to each of those cities?
I was born in Vancouver and left shortly after Uni. I moved to Beijing because a friend of mine from NY had just moved there and basically convinced me to go. Beijing is a huge city – a lot of people don’t understand the scale of it until they are physically there. A lot of that space afforded me time to rebrand myself and grow. I currently also do a lot of production and design in Beijing – so technically it’s still home for me. In terms of a base, I’d like to think New York is it (at least for now). Most of my work and friends are here, so it’s good times all around.

What do you love about New York?
That things are constantly changing; yet stay the same. I also like that people work just as hard as me – If I send an email out at 5PM on a Friday night, I’d immediately get a response.

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