Teri Tan is one of the four primary contributors to QPOP–an organization that creates carefully selected popup experiences that aim to elevate queer brands.
Teri is also a New-York University MS (Master of Science) Business graduate, investment banker, part-time model and queer activist. She spoke to REglam about QPOP’s first event happening Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, during the New-York Fashion Week buzz.
Josh: If you were footwear, what kind of footwear would you be and why?
Teri: An oak coloured oxford. I’m not sure if I would be wing-tipped, just because I’m a bit older now–but yeah, actually I would be wing-tipped.
Josh: Who are you?
Teri: I’m a short, queer Singaporean living in New-York city. Everyone thinks I’m a 5 to 12 year-old boy until I’m a few sentences into a conversation when they’ll usually realize, ‘oh! I can’t mess around with this person.’ I also say I’m queer because it’s a crucial part of my identity. Like, in college I was the president of the queer business club (Pride Corp).
Josh: How do you identify (your gender)?
Teri: What I like about the word “queer” is that it isn’t really about what you are; it’s about what you’re not. It’s sort of an anti-normative word. It’s based on what is normal and that I am not that, so I don’t really know what I am, but I know what I’m not. Queer is really a label for no labels.
Josh: You model! Modeling as any minority, particularly visible minorities, comes with its challenges–as do most other things in life. Results compiled by The Fashion Spot revealed that 78% of models in America’s fashion advertisements for spring 2016 were Caucasian. What has your experience been as a model with intersecting identities (Asian and queer)?
Teri: Even if I want to get a gig, I have challenges on two fronts: I’m Asian and I’m short. I did New-York Fashion Week last year for dapperQ’s Verge show. Two years before that, when I went, there were only two Asians on the runway, and I was like, “what!?” I then went around to all the designers to ask if they were looking for a model. I went to an open casting call and was picked by one of the designers. You can tell that the fashion industry is trying to move towards inclusivity. But it’s still so hard to break out of the mold. Even if you’re black, you still have to be super tall and feminine. You can’t have different degrees of differentiation.
Josh: How did you end up as an investment banker?
Teri: I don’t know. Haha! Investment banking is a desirable job. I’m not below average, but I never thought I was competing with the people that wanted those types of jobs. I just studied really hard for a month or so before my interviews, and I got the job. What really help me in my interviews was my leadership experiences with Pride Corp.
Josh: QPOP’s website describes the brand as a “curated popup experience.” Could you elaborate on what exactly that means?
Teri: We are doing popups. We don’t want to limit it just to the queer fashion industry. The first event is a popup shop. It’s focused on fashion. In the future, we’re going to do other popups, such as a film night, or a popup cookout or party. We’re mainly an event company, and this is our first: QPOP’s fashion popup.
Josh: QPOP’s website states that you deal with strategy and operations. What exactly do you do?
Teri: I handle everything that is not creative or day-to-day marketing. My tasks change all the time. I handle logistics and keep up to date with Aym, Sunny and Gabby. I figure out what is going on in regards to the bigger picture. Like, “how is the website going?” Aym has been in the industry longer than all of us. He owns his own modeling agency, and he’s a photographer. Aym complements us a lot because he brings reach and knowledge that Sunny and I might lack sometimes. We’re all really different, but we complement each other.
Josh: QPOP will be holding an event during NYFW’s Fall 2016 shows. The event is said to last two days and features queer inclusive brands and designers. Could you offer additional details, like which designers and brands will QPOP be showcasing?
Teri: It’s a secret. 😉 But we are leveraging the New-York Fashion Week hype. We are looking at some of the brands at dapperQ’s Queer New-York Fashion week and those at the fashion week in Oakland. We don’t have a location yet because we’re debating between two.
Josh: Your website describes your brand in very academic, sociological terms that some readers could be intimidated by. Can you unpack what you mean by QPOP’s mission to “dismantle heteronormativity and gender binarism?”
Teri: Advertisements are often like, ‘be the perfect husband, and buy this dress for your wife.’ All the marketing is assuming that someone is straight or cis gendered, and that’s not always the case. Queer people exist. What we’re trying to do is create an experience that is comfortable for anyone that wants to participate–even if they are straight. We want people to think, “Oh, okay! You aren’t assuming anything about my identity. You’re letting me decide that for myself.” We also want to empower queer designers and queer affiliated brands. We’re hoping to bring buyers and investors into the room to hopefully help connect them and elevate queer businesses.
Josh: What are you looking forward to the most in regards to your upcoming event?
Teri: Firstly, I hope everything runs smoothly and is successful, but I truly hope people say that it’s something that they have never seen before. I want it to be a real retail experience with clothing racks, cash registers and debit/credit machines. It’s not just an event; it’s an experience.
Josh: You have 30 seconds to think of a new slogan for QPOP–whether you use it afterward is up to you, but it will forever be in this profile!
Teri: A new slogan! What about the one we already have!? What!? I’m so bad at this… So how about, ‘Now You See Me, Now You Don’t!’ I think it’s because I was browsing through a magic shop like an hour ago.
QPOP is one of many queer organizations that is trying to make the world more inclusive to gender minorities. By connecting with a network of LGBTQ* inclusive brands and organizations, they can collectively influence change in the way the queer community is perceived.
Teri’s website features a project she has been working on called “Transposing Beauty.” It is meant to challenge preconceived notions of how a man or woman should appear. Take a look by using the links below the image!
Teri’s Website: www.teritan.com (here you can find her Transposing Beauty project)
Interviewee: Teri Tan (@Ziddy10)
If you digged this article, you will LOVE these! Breaking Down LGBTQ Barriers: Sunny P. Leerasanthanah Talks Queer Fashion And Her Journey Being a Black Sheep: An Editorial Shoot makes Hijras feel Beautiful Orlando Shooting Spikes a Prickly LGBTQ+ Topic