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Meet Belinda Wu of Nu-Way Design Center in Buena Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Belinda Wu.

Belinda, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Before I talk about myself, I think I should provide context about my parents to hopefully give insight into my upbringing. They began as the typical story of immigrants with big hopes of chasing the American dream. My dad had been a designer from Taiwan who’d immigrated to Southern California in 1990, bringing nothing but his fine artistic eye and five of what he’d called his “lucky” red underwear. And my mom had immigrated here from Shanghai in 1985, having given up her position as an RN at the prestigious Shanghai Sixth People’s Hospital with nothing but $40 in her suitcase. Even with their challenges, they persevered through the obstacles and carved a reputation for themselves in the Chinese community since 1986 as one of the biggest interior design centers in SoCal that specialize in high-end residential projects. Their past notable clients include Tsai Wan-lin (ranked the fifth richest businessman in the world in 1996, and number one wealthiest in Taiwan in 1996), Wang Yung-ching (ranked the 178th wealthiest businessman in 2008 for his large business empire in Taiwan), and Felipe Liang (the upcoming president of the World Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce in 2020).

As the first generation American in our family though, it’d meant a lot to me that I upheld their legacy and honor their sacrifices by being who I genuinely wanted to be. Ever since I’d been three or four years old, I remember watching my parents work and knowing that I wanted to follow in their footsteps. We’d joke that it was no wonder I found passion in interior design, especially with the revelation of my grand-uncle in law having been Doon Dayu, a famous architect known throughout China for his designs. (I remember my mom linking an article to me in WeChat that had his and my grand-aunt’s sepia portrait, excitedly explaining to me that the plot and characters were based on the real-life accomplishments and story of my grand-uncle for the recent 2019 Chinese drama called ‘the Great Architect.’)

After having a clear direction of my path, unlike my other peers who were still figuring out the first drafts of their own stories, I’d focused on that design trajectory from the prestigious Gretchen Whitney High School all the way to the renowned ArtCenter College of Design (honor student with bachelor’s degree, 2013-2017). I was always quite scholarly, with the creative spirit manifesting in my love to create—especially in my ability to draw and write. Even when I’d been little, my parents would take me to their job sites or to their client meetings, to their international travels in Europe and Asia, and even to design shows and designer showcases—all to build on my design foundation little by little. I soaked up all the knowledge I could. To drive myself, I aimed to achieve something at least once every year, no matter how small. I’d sold my own art. I’d been interviewed for my award-winning works at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and had my works exhibited at the Pasadena Armory Center for the Arts, at the LA Convention Center and at the ArtCenter gallery, etc. My fondest memory though was having studied abroad in Berlin, Germany—validating my passion for this career path and better honing my craft. Following my graduation with my degree, I have also acquired a real estate license, and am now in the works pursuing my final license (general building contractor).

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
First of all, shoutouts to teacher Han Ming for igniting my artistic ambitions when I’d been five and to my high school art teacher Debra Price-Agrums Sposa for being so supportive of my budding art skills, and to the guidance of amazing ArtCenter faculty members such as Ania Borysiewicz, Dan Gottlieb and Penny Herscovitch, David Mocarski, Emil Mertzel, James Meraz, Robert Ball, Robert Hunt, Yo Oshima, and to everyone else who’d taken part in my journey. I might be a blip among the other amazing students they’ve instructed over the years, but I remain ever grateful to have had them as my mentors.

When you first start off, what most people underestimate is how important it is to form connections and gain trust. It’s not only the client’s trust you have to earn, it’s also your coworkers and peers and manufacturers and vendors. When you’re starting out—whether it be the start of a project or a collaboration—you have to earn respect. It’s not only a designer’s vision or craftsmanship or portfolio that you have to be diligent at; interpersonal skills are immensely valuable in this field.

And like all businesses, you have to take precautions before, during, and after a project. Without going into too much detail about this, always make sure you have a signed contract or agreement, and make sure to always communicate every step of the way so that there aren’t miscommunications when it comes to the final result. The designer and client are both humans at the end of the day and are partners collaborating together on a project. Most of all, always return kindness if it’s given to you. Pay it forward to others and work hard to maintain friendships and harmony. A happy client is a happy designer, and so forth—and the good vibes will reflect in the work.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Nu-Way Design Center – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We’ve been in the home renovation industry for over 30+ years with many successful case stories in SoCal. And I like to think with every success means a new friend that has been made by helping them design a house that fits their lifestyle. It’s just so inspiring to engage with so many people from all different walks of life. There is always a story behind every project. (Admittedly some projects are more memorable than others, haha. I am appreciative of the colorful characters that add flavor to our lives.)

What I’m most proud of is our experience and the connections we have formed. As a designer, you learn to put on many hats. I pride myself in being able to offer clients a variety of styles, from classical design to midcentury to transitional and even to contemporary. The scale of the project also ultimately depends on the client. It can be anything from a simple kitchen remodel to the whole house, to anything as small as ordering window coverings such as transitional/ roller shades or shutters, etc. (I’d like to say the craftsmanship of our custom draperies though is among the best in LA!) The home is a sanctuary. Therefore, I, myself, am a firm believer that a good makeover can rejuvenate the house and the soul. We have curated a team of people we trust immensely and have worked with many years to provide clients the best quality possible, with their own unique specializations and masteries over their craft whether it be cabinetry, flooring, woodworking, window coverings, or whatnot. We’re very authentic in what we provide. We work hard and we work fast.

As an interior design center, our company offers everything from color and material selection, to design consultation and drawing floorplans/renders, to custom-made draperies and window treatments, to home renovation and/or furniture, lighting, paintings and accessories selection. As a designer and licensed realtor, if you are thinking of buying or you know someone who needs help, I am ready to help! We keep a lot of inventory that we charge one-third of the retail cost, to save the client a lot of their time at a reasonably affordable budget. We also offer the whole package in our professional services. It’s turnkey interior design, where we can have everything ready for the client so that all they need to do is bring their suitcases inside their beautiful home. We help homeowners combine clean, updated aesthetics with the functional needs of many spaces.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I think, regardless of trends or personal taste, the industry will continue to put emphasis on what sells real estate. For example, we had a past client inform us because of the remodeling and custom draperies we’d made for her some years back, the market value of her house had been significantly elevated and recently sold for a good price. It’s smart design choices that impact the sales of a house 5, 10, and even 40 years down the line. Feng shui is a definite must for future marketability.

That’s why I’m currently working on my next big venture, which is a contractor license for general building. When I accomplish that, I’ll be able to buy, develop and build or design/ remodel, and then sell homes to prospective homeowners in SoCal. Basically, it’s the whole complete package. I know it’s ambitious, but I also know it’ll be a great step forward for this company.

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Image Credit:
Nu-Way Design Center

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