For Women's Month this year, we are honored to spotlight Jessica Ng, first generation Chinese-Hong Kong-American designer, small business owner, and defiant disruptor of status quos. The seasoned Muay Thai fighter won gold at the 2017 Pan American games, a bronze in the 2018 Pan American Championships in Buenos Aires, and has also competed in Thailand and Malaysia. Her indomitable fighting spirit can be seen in the work she does with AAPI organizations and self-defense seminars she leads throughout New York City. Her brand Southpaw Stitches supports women in combat sports while empowering all to lead an active lifestyle. Jess continues to inspire social consciousness and impact when she’s not dominating games of mahjong or working on her fluency in Toisan, her grandmother’s dialect.
What barriers have you faced as a woman in your industry and how did you overcome them?
Both fashion and Muay Thai are largely male dominated. There were (and still are) many barriers but I’ve grown to realize my skills and my unique experiences in my identity are my superpowers. Stay driven and persistent and never lose sight of your goals.
What is the most important piece of advice you’ve been given?
An important advice I’ve been given is to give myself grace which has been a learning process. It’s hard to see the strides and impact of my work when I’m so deep in it. Resting physically and mentally is also really important because you cannot give your all if you’re pouring from an empty cup.
You are also the founder of Southpaw Stitches. Tell us more about this and what inspired you to start.
I’ve been designing and customizing fightwear in the local Muay Thai scene since 2010 as a side hustle while working my corporate job. I decided to make it into a business in 2019. There were many challenges we faced in 2020 but it was the community in New York City and in Muay Thai that has always inspired me and keeps me driven. It is more than just an activewear brand. It is brand that proudly supports women in combats sports and empowers all genders and backgrounds to lead an active lifestyle and be confident in their own power. We are a product company but we also tie in community work with those in underserved and often overlooked communities with Muay Thai and/or self defense workshops.
Other women that have helped/inspired your journey
There have been a lot of women that have inspired my work and my journey from all aspects from being a designer, fighter, and advocate for the community. I would want to highlight the women that have been on the ground working to help the AAPI community in NYC during these challenging times, including OCA-NY President Brianna Cea and Michelle Tran and Kenji Jones of Soar Over Hate.
As an expecting mother, how has this impacted your perspective of womanhood
I don't know if I ever saw myself as a mother, but now that I'm an expecting mom, I feel stronger in my body than I had before training and fighting for so many years pushing my body to the limits and trying to get as strong as I can physically and mentally. Now that I'm expecting, I actually feel a lot stronger. It's opened my eyes into what a woman's body can do.
Three things every woman should carry on them to keep them safe.
Their voice, their confidence, and awareness.
As far as physical safety devices, I never suggest to carry anything one is not willing to use or has never use/practiced with before. There are so many things that can be used to your advantage as safety devices but I highly suggest to take a seminar or classes to learn how to use them properly.
Favorite local spots you love to visit?
Downtown Flushing for all the good food!
Flushing Meadow Park in the summers and then enjoying the food carts and street vendors in the neighborhood.
Wearing: Mizar Forest