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WCF Mates! Vol. 8 Marge (EN)

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

WCF-Mates! is a segment where we feature and showcase the lives of those who have collaborated with WOMENCANFLY.CO. (Commonly used by Australians, ‘mate’ refers to a friend or someone you are close to.)

In Vol. 7, we meet Margaret Hwang, a visual designer who has extensive experience with graphics, background, exhibition, industrial and product design in Taiwan and Australia. She’s been running Overdue Studio for over eight years and is currently in the middle of founding another company.

Who is Margaret?

Margaret has over 15 years of experience as a designer for agencies, educational organisations and start-ups turned scale-ups. She also runs her own studio where she focuses on creating sustainable designs. Through her appreciation of handmade crafts, she wants to contribute her skillset to not only create new designs but also, advocate for sustainable options.

She is currently working on creating a central hub for artists and makers of handmade crafts and homewares to connect them to potential buyers and customers. This stemmed from a pain point she’s personally felt from having difficulty sourcing handmade ornaments from the world. The existing platforms for communication were not trustworthy and she spent a lot of time digging deeply through hundreds if not thousands of people.

Margaret's accomplishments

Margaret worked in Taiwan as a designer for about seven years. There, it was highly competitive and the client was always right. No matter what the client wanted, she had to make it happen, even if it meant constantly working overtime.

In Australia, Margaret feels more respected as a designer. Clients propose projects, negotiate a fee, and are happy to provide more time. You finish one project and everyone celebrates. They really appreciate your hard work in Australia and rarely do they say bad things about you. People tend to forgive you easily. They care about your feelings more but the downside is she feels like she wants to put higher standards on her potential.

When Margaret seeks feedback, Australians will care about her feelings for her designs. When she feels she could improve, people will tell her to relax. She usually has her Taiwanese mindset of wanting to do more because something isn’t good enough. She’s always finding ways to improve and deep down, she’s still very Taiwanese.

Suddenly 30

Margaret first came to Australia for a working holiday and saw it as an opportunity before she turned 30. She didn’t have money and that was the only way she could live overseas at the time. She only planned to come for a year but got a job offer, made friends and decided to stay. Her company sponsored her for a visa and she’s now a citizen.

It wasn’t all smooth though. Her first job in Australia was at a cafe because she thought that’d be the easiest job to start with but she was wrong. She had no idea how things worked in Australia, especially the names of the ingredients like avocado, zucchini or haloumi. She was on trial and felt depressed after she wasn’t offered the job. After three months, she spent all her savings and had $600 left. She could either use the money to buy a ticket back to Taiwan or keep on trying. She chose the latter and found a job doing what she knows best​​—graphic design.

What Taiwan and Australia can learn from each other

Margaret wants Taiwanese people to realise that they have a lot of talent and to give things a go. That’s partly why she’s working on creating a platform for people for creatives to connect as she feels Australia needs more creativity and culture. For Taiwanese people she feels they could be more active and confident to find opportunities overseas and not only look at what they have already in a narrow-minded way.

Long-lasting possessions

Margaret interviewed over 1500 people around the world and asked, “What does sustainable design mean to you?” She realised that sustainable design can be a vague and broad concept where there has been a lot of greenwashing involved.

She turned to history to find a more realistic solution where in Asia, before the industrial revolution, objects were handmade by craftspeople with the intention for them to last thousands of years. That was the most sustainable design to them—having one item to be passed down from generation to generation and to be used for as long as possible.

The most sustainable way she found was to have one item and to use it for as long as possible and pass it generation by generation. She’s trying to connect all the craftspeople from around the world on one platform.