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Women Who Write:
Jasmin Malik Chua of Ecouterre

In my new Women Who Write series, I will be speaking with some of my favorite female writers on the Internet.

I kick off the series with Jasmin Malik Chua, a publishing industry veteran with over two decades of experience and a leading voice in the world of sustainable fashion. Armed with an M.S. in biomedical journalism from New York University and a B.S. in animal biology from the National University of Singapore, she is the first-ever recipient of the News Reporting on Sustainability – Daily Coverage award at the Pratt Institute/BF+DA Positive Impact Awards.

She also happens to be the older sister of my one of my best friends from high school- talk about a small world!

Jasmin Malik Chua
[Credit: Jasmin Malik Chua]

Ni Hao Jasmin! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi, I'm Jasmin. I grew up in Singapore but now live in New Jersey with my husband and daughter. I'm the managing editor of Ecouterre.com, one of the leading websites about sustainable and ethical fashion. 

What made you decide to become a writer?

I've always been drawn to words; it's something that grew organically from my love of reading. I don't think there was a specific moment in time when I went, "I'm going to be a Writer with a capital W." It's just something I did.

As a child I made little magazines to entertain my sister. I wrote what must have been cringingly awful plays in school. I joined and wrote for various school publications and later graduated to editing a section of my college newspaper. Then I scored internships with a couple of local publications, went to journalism school in New York, and things just took off from there. 

You are a very prolific writer. How do you keep the momentum going?

The same way everyone with a job gets their work done: you just do, because you're an adult and you have adult responsibilities. But the world of ethical fashion is incredibly exciting, so there's also a sense of wonder and novelty that keeps me going. I'm a sharer so if something cool is happening, I usually can't wait to tell somebody. The fact that I get paid for it just fuels me further.

Do you have a process / routine when you write?

I have a standing desk in my home office that helps me get into that state of mind. I drop my daughter off at school in the morning, make a pot of tea, read the Morning Spoilers on io9.com while I'm having breakfast, answer my emails, and then I made a to-do list of stories to write or edit for the day. I drink a lot of tea. 

What are some of the challenges you face when writing?

Writer's block. Sometimes the words flow easily, often they don't. While the Internet is crucial to what I do, it's also a distraction. And I'm pretty distractible so it takes a lot of discipline not to click on that cat video or dive into a warren of Wikipedia or TVTropes entries. Or repeatedly refreshing BlindGossip.com. Which I don't do. At. All. 

What are your favourite articles to write?

I love stories about what kids in fashion schools are doing. They have such a unique, unfettered perspective that their output is almost guaranteed to knock your socks off. I like learning about new textiles, new innovative processes that move the dial for the fashion industry, so it's not all doom and gloom.

What other writers / sites do you like to read and why?

Everything. I'm not a very discerning reader, but I frequent the aforementioned io9.com and Jezebel a great deal because the articles are usually very funny and insightful and I use them as benchmarks for my own work, which I'm usually very ambivalent about.

Offline, I've been devouring Daphne Du Maurier's historical fiction. I read far too many comic books than is healthy for my bank account. I love stories about haunted houses and imaginary beasts and I have entire shelves dedicated to them. 

Do you have any advice for budding writers?

Reading is fundamental. It fills you with words and cadences and helps you become a better writer. And write a little every day, even if nobody reads it. 

This strip by Sarah's Scribbles hits the mark when it comes to writing, at least for me. No. 5 is the most important: You just have to keep on keeping on. 

[Credit: Sarah's Scribble]
Reading is fundamental. It fills you with words and cadences and helps you become a better writer. <- Tweet This!

Thank you for sharing your insight and inspiration Jasmin! You can read her articles on Ecouterre where she reports daily on the latest trends and challenges in the world of sustainable fashion or follow her on Twitter.

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