With a leather tote bag on her shoulder, essentials on one hand, and her trusty tumbler on the other, Winnie Wong (more popularly known by her online illustrator/vlogger persona, PenelopePop) walked inside the studio with easy grace and cool laid back vibe. In her chic, forest green long sleeves and black culottes, anyone can tell that she means business.
At first glance, she may look intimidating to some, but with a big smile greeting everyone in the room and her light-hearted humor, Winnie proves there’s more to her than meets the eye.
It’s hard—almost impossible—to imagine how this fun-loving, happy creative was totally different from how she was a few years back. Fresh from uni abroad and excited to be back here in the Philippines, Winnie went through the hustle of a 9-5 creative, executing countless product designs and ideas. “I remember coming home all the time around 6 PM and dreading the traffic ahead all the time. I don’t have time to work on what I want to do, and I was so catered to working for [them],” Winnie shared. While she was, and is still grateful for her experience then, the lack of creative outlet drained her to the core and left her unmotivated.
“I remember the first time I ever used Photoshop, I did this really easy design, but it took me like hours,” she laughed.
Her story started just like anyone else's—with small steps. Her clean, Instagram-famous aesthetic came to life from a professor’s stubborn advice to ‘pick one style only!’
“I [remember] disliking her, but at the same time, I was glad that she pushed me in that direction because, in order for you to stand out, you need to practice and establish your style,” she recalled with a smile. Despite her strong visuals, Winnie recalled the trial-and-errors she went through as a young artist finding her style. “I remember the first time I ever used Photoshop, I did this really easy design, but it took me hours,” she laughed.
As her stint as PenelopePop on Instagram grew, Winnie explored the vlogging arena on the side. Although she never saw herself as a YouTuber before nor did she dream of becoming one, her almost 135,000-strong YouTube following is a testament that she’s a natural on the platform. “I had to learn a lot of things by myself, [but] it [ended up becoming] a diary because videos are a really good form to keep track of what I have been doing in my life,” Winnie shared. While her YouTube account started out as a personal tutorial bank for her design, she dared to explore outside of her artistic domain with videos like “How to be Basic” and “Life of Wan” which her followers are major fans of.
“I made sure to experience all the opportunities just to make sure that I knew exactly what I wanted to do”
Graphic tee, P499
Mid-waist shorts available in-stores soon!
Picking the road less travelled has its own set of problems at its tail, and Winnie was no exception to that. “I applied into an art school and I didn’t tell my parents at first [because] my parents wanted me to do something other than art,” Winnie shared. Instead of letting the usual creative’s battle get the best of her, she struck the perfect balance between passion and practicality and found the sweet spot with design and education. “I always wanted [to pursue] education, I think it works well with design because you end up teaching other people and keep your mind sharp along the way, too,” Winnie added. Now armed with her double degree, Winnie looks forward to time-in everyday as a Digital Arts teacher at an International high school in the country. “I really like it when the kids feel more comfortable speaking with you after school—making kwento about their lives. That, for me, is a really nice moment,” she shared.
It’s all about timing
Winnie’s shift from a full-time creative to a teacher led her to believe in the old saying that ‘Things fall into place for a reason.’ “Timing comes into play a lot more than we think. It’s actually super important,” she stressed. And this slice of advice isn’t just for the creatives, but for everyone who tends to exhibit a “suffer now” mentality, too.
“[The] thing is, you have years ahead of you...it’s all about opening yourself to all these things rather than limiting yourself to one thing you’re not really happy with,” Winnie advised. With her vast experience in her field and in life, Winnie shared the secret to acing one’s calling: “Let things be and it will fall into place…if you make the time for it.” “You got to work smart and try out other things. It may not be what you want now, but you might learn the skills you need in the future so you can do what you want,” Winnie added.
Striped button-down, P799
What’s next for PenelopePop?
With how things are now, the future’s looking extra bright for Winnie. With her highly-coveted Everyday Planner just scratching the surface; one thing’s for sure, there’s nothing but bigger things in-store for both Winnie and her followers. Still, she admits that there’s plenty of room to grow. Fueled with her resolve to step out of her comfort zone more often and do things bigger than what is expected of her, now that she’s figured out what works and what doesn’t, nothing’s stopping Winnie Wong from taking the art scene by storm.
“Try to find the balance…because your passion and happiness will evolve and it will look different as you experience more.”
Hustle tee, P499
Striped blazer, P1499
Mid-waist jeans, P999