Ann Krembs is a busy lady - blogger, librarian, mum, Fab 40's mover and shaker and certified stylist with a instagram account worth following even just for her fantastic insta-stories! She recently came back from a trip to India where she lived a few years ago with her family and I got to spend an afternoon at her house talking make up and dress ups, discussing DIY, life BK (before kids), HK and AK (after kids) plans. We covered everything from eyelash extensions to button shops and Beijing.
Name: Ann Krembs
Hometown: Spokane, Washington USA
Current Residence: Hong Kong (5 years)
Your Scent: Narciso Rodriguez For Her- It’s a funny story. When I was living in Bombay, there was a mother at the school I was working at called Ann, and I taught her son. She would always come into the library and I’d be like Oh my goodness, you smell amazing! She smelt so good! I’d tell her every time I saw her and then one day I came back to my office and there sitting on my desk was a bottle of this perfume. That was in 2007 so I’ve been wearing this for 10 years! I can’t smell it on me anymore, and my husband can’t either but people still comment on it.
Your style in three words: Sporty - Boho - Chic (Or at least I like to think it might be that! Instead of chic others might say funky! Haha.)
Can you give a bit of a background to how you came to be in Hong Kong?
My husband and I are on our 20th year living overseas - 20 years married and 20 years teaching internationally. We got married in 1997, and five days later we moved to El Salvador to teach at the American school there for 2 years. We then lived and taught in Saudi Arabia (Jedda) for two more years with an airline company; we had airline benefits, so we travelled like banshees all over the world - this was BK (before kids). We then went to Venezuela, had our two kids there, and taught at a great school. Then the mini coup with Chavez happened, and we had to move. I had finally become a librarian there, but we lost half the school population because of the mini coup, so they cut my position, and we had to move. We then went to India and stayed there for five years at the American School of Bombay. Our kids were toddlers there, and we lived in an apartment about the size of what we live in now - on the beach which was amazing! But by the time they were 6 and 7 years old, we felt that they needed a yard, a dog, being able to ride a bike. They were actually doing fine in India, but we felt they needed something more, so that’s when we moved to Beijing. I’ll be honest, I didn’t like it. In fact I couldn't stand it, but the kids loved it. We had a fireplace and Rani [the family dog named after the Hindi word for princess], the housing was great, they had good friends and space to play, but the pollution really was horrific. At Thanksgiving in November of 2011 we decided to apply for jobs here in HK. We had interviews on Tuesday and Thursday, and on Friday got offered the jobs! We were like Yeah! We’re moving to Hong Kong! We had always wanted to teach here.
When we first moved to HK, we lived on a boat in Aberdeen for 3 weeks - it was a disaster! The electricity would blow, and then we’d have to call the guy on land to turn it back on, but if he wasn’t there we had to go to the land to flip the switch. It didn’t last long. But now we are on year 5, living happily in Stanley, and we will probably stay for a while - at least until after our youngest daughter is finished with high school or the year after at least. We really love and enjoy our lives here in Hong Kong.
What inspired you to start Kremb De La Kremb?
Ever since my husband and I moved overseas in 1997, I’ve always compiled photo albums from all the places we lived and the travels we’ve had. Then with the rise of digital cameras, I noticed I wasn’t printing out my pictures as much; plus being overseas I knew family back home wanted to see pics of the kids. I started Kremb de la Kremb while living in India during 2006. It started as a family blog. Fast forward to 2012 when we were still living in Beijing, Instagram had just started, my #ootd fascination began, and I enrolled to become a stylist through the London College of Style. The kids were starting to tween, they had their own Instagram accounts, and they were starting to request permission for any of their photos to be on the blog. With the move to HK, I made the split and started posting my style inspirations and DIY projects. Occasionally, with permission of course, the kids make it onto the blog. Also, because we travel so much, some travel posts are included. And of course I write about beauty every now and then—for example finding the very best red lipstick out there is a favourite of mine. I’ll try them all! The niche I prefer though is style, so for the most part Kremb de la Kremb has now become my musings on my own personal style. I love getting dressed, and I hope to help others love it too. The best thing we can wear is confidence, so I try to promote that accessory as well. If we feel great in what we wear, we are going to look great!
Where is your fashion and DIY inspiration drawn from normally?
Usually, if I see something I really like, I’ll often ask myself, Could I make that? Other times when something is outrageously expensive, I’ll think, Could I figure out how to make something similar? Many times the answer is yes. For example, these Miu Miu inspired pumps were created because I passed by the store in Landmark and fell in love with what I saw! They were so special. Then I realised I had a patent black pair of pumps I wasn’t wearing and it’d be super easy to poke a hole on the outer side of the shoe and string the ribbon through them. Presto! I had some Miu Miu look-alikes in under 10 minutes. Basically, I’m always observing fashion and trends. I read blogs and magazines, I follow style influencers on Instagram, and I people watch in the streets of Hong Kong. I browse both online shops and the ones on the street. If I see something on someone that I like, I’m always one to hand out a compliment and also ask them where they got what they’re wearing. I’m never shy in that way. Basically, I’m always looking at style, and if there’s something in my closet that I’m not wearing, I’ll see if there’s something I could do to revamp it before giving it away.
I often see trends and think I’m not going to buy that when it would be so easy to make. I’ll print stuff from Zara or for example when I saw this picture of Chiara Ferrangi in a patched denim shirt, I thought I have a gazillion denim shirts - I can do that so easily. When we were in a market in Thailand, I bought all these patches and had them sewn on, and it looks good.
Then, there were a series of pants at Zara with gold buttons or red ribbons down the seam. Again, I thought to myself, I could totally do that with one of the many old pair of black pants I have. I took some old black pants, I bought the red ribbon off Etsy and the gold buttons (below) from Pottinger Street and I then had them sewn on.
What are some of your favorite DIY pieces you’ve made?
I completed coursework at the London College of Style online program so I’m a certified stylist - let me say though it was hard. For one of the assignments we had to alter something through tea dying and bleach and then for another later assignment we had to embellish an item. This used to be a blue jean jacket, I bleached it, sat it on the rocks out at the lakes [Ann’s has a summer house in Spirit Lake, Idaho, America] and it turned this yellow colour. I then brought it with me to Thailand for a DIY project and I had some stuff on me from Ladies Street in Central. I sat on our hotel rooftop and added the stuff to the jacket with pins. I went up to the concierge and asked if they could think of anywhere in town I could get this tailored, and I ended up sending it off with the driver of the hotel. It cost me $10USD and came back the next day sewn! So this piece has been doubly DIYed!
Another example would be these Paige star jeans I saw on Eva Chen (wearing in first image above). I have had these boyfriend jeans since I bought them in Paris circa 2009. Well I didn’t buy them initially, but I then made my family go all the way back to the store with me to get them - they are only H&M, but I had to have them. I never really want to get rid of them, but they were starting to bore me. They’d make for the perfect star patched jeans that Eva wore to a fashion week with stunning multicoloured faux fur jacket. I took them to a lady here down in Stanley market with some cut out stars and she made them exactly the same. They look so good! They would have to be one of my favourite pieces.
This one is my all-time favourite. This bag - it’s gorgeous! It’s like an animal! I got the idea from a blogger, Shana Christine, who had a similar bag, yet it was a fortune, and when I looked for it, it was out of stock. I became rather obsessed and figured out a way to make it. I went to Value Village [like a Goodwill or Savers] and got this little bag. Then I got some ostrich feathers, some glue, and got to work. It’s just one long strip, just one piece. I bring it out on special occasions. It was seriously one of the easiest DIYs I’ve ever done, and it looks so good!
Where are your go to sources for DIY bits and bobs?
I get stuff from all over and then throw it into my arts and crafts box. This stuff [trimmings] is from the lane in central with all the costumes [Pottinger Street]; I’ve got a bunch of trimming from a person along there. Me and G’s [Me and George] in the little lane in Li Yuen Street in Central is one of the places I go to for secondhand stuff. I’ll head there and generally find something I’m looking for. I have a whole denim drawer, and if I go to Me and Gee’s and see a pair of Levis, I’ll always pick them up from there. (Actually my post about Me and Gee’s is one of my most read posts).
There is a lady I go to in Jardine’s Bazaar [Causeway Bay]. You go down the market to the first cross section, head and up some stairs to the left, and at the end of this little shopping center, there is a sewing shop where I’ve got buttons and grommets and other stuff. She is the cutest lady in the world - I love her! She has this little shuffle and comes scooting to me every time to give me a hug. It’s so worth the visit; I’ve even taken my family to meet her she is so cute. And I promise she’ll become your friend too.
Whenever I can, I get stuff from craft stores in the States when I’m back - that’s the thing about The States, it is so much easier to get supplies over there. Finally, I’ve started to use Etsy an awful lot. If you put in that your destination is Hong Kong, you’d be surprised by how many people will ship to here, and sometimes they are even local vendors. I’ve made friends with one seller who I can ask for items when need be. My most recent two purchases from Etsy are a sequin patch I plan to use for a shoot at the end of this month and some beautiful feathers for an upcoming DIY project. Stay tuned….
What are some of your other projects with Kremb De La Kremb?
I love when other bloggers are interested in collaborating, and because of this, I’ve actually made some good girlfriends from around the world that I’ve never even met. I am part of this collaboration with women over 40. There are 8 of us from around the world. Once a month somebody chooses a theme and then when it is your turn to choose you get to invite a guest blogger along. We call ourselves The Fab 40s, and we post on the last Monday of each month. So far my most favourite theme was plaid this last December!
Another collaboration I’m a part of is with two gals from the UK. It’s called the Ping Pong Post. Each month one of us sends an item from our wardrobe, and we style it. It’s pretty tough at times because we might not actually like what has been passed on. One time, this grey tunic was the theme. I couldn’t stand it, so I turned it into a tube top and wore it with jean shorts. Then there was this hideous shag thing—oh you should see what we all did with it! I ended up having to style it twice, and in the end wore it as a scarf. We have fun! And again, I’ve made some great girlfriends because of it.
I am always open to any sort of collaboration. Any! Now I’m hoping to one day be able to work with brands. A girl can dream, right?! I recently did some work with Shein—if you haven’t tried this site, I recommend heading there if you just want to try out a trend. The prices are beyond reasonable. It was so fun to have them reach out to me and ask me to choose something. I’d love for that sort of thing to continue to happen. It was pretty awesome! And it was also difficult to choose one item. Shein must have been happy though; they’ve asked me to choose another piece!
Recent finds in HK you’re not afraid to share?
The “Revelation” body oil at H&M - I love this! I used the perfume roller throughout our holiday trip to India as my scent, but also I carried the roller in my bag so if needed I could rub the scent under my nose as the smells are sometimes interesting in India! To add to the “Revelation” collection, I recently got the bath oil too. I’m so happy to have H&M beauty products here in HK - the line is incredible. I’ve been getting into their eye shadows - I have two of them on right now, and the lipsticks and eyeliners. I’m into the greens and blues at the moment.
Something else I’m not afraid to share are my eyelashes! I’ve started to get extensions. It’s amazing, it’s changed my makeup/beauty life. You have to try it! I found this place in Causeway Bay: it’s a little nail shop near Jack and Will's called Wings, up three or four flights. You can pay $460 for the fancy set or $360 for the normal set, but I don’t know the difference, so I wouldn’t pay more than that now. If you are claustrophobic just listen to a little audio book or something because it takes about an hour, they close your lids, and you can’t open until they are set. There is only one woman in the shop that does it, and she fills them in for free if they aren’t thick enough after a few days. I highly recommend giving extensions a try. They really have made me feel prettier, and it’s so nice not to worry about mascara anymore.
Favourite area in HK and why?
This is such a tough question! If I have a chance to be by myself, I love getting lost in Causeway Bay. There are tons of places to find in this neighbourhood, and the people in this district are so friendly. I’ve got Conny and Chiu to take a my #ootd in Jardine’s Bazaar, and I’ve got Ben there too for my favourite jewellery in all of HK (Ben is the fourth stall on the left). I have my routines, and I know where all the best bathrooms are. My recent find in CWB is the teen store Cotton On—it’s so much larger than the one in LKF. As a notebook collector and a kid at heart, I love this store!
If I’m going on a date or even a day day with my daughter, I love wandering through the Midlevels. There are so many restaurants there it’d be impossible to try them all. It’s fun to stumble upon one or alternatively we’ll research where the hip place of the day is. With my daughter, we always walk into that fancy perfume Lyndhurst Terrace. She loves it in there; we just sniff our way through. Hong Kong has so many great places for us still to explore, but Causeway Bay and the Midlevels are definitely my faves.
Go to restaurant for a family night out?
We love Thai food, and we travel to Thailand often. Samsen HK is our new favourite place to go for a very authentic Thai experience. In fact, we found the food better at Samsen after a week long trip in Phuket! We especially like sitting at the bar so we can watch Adam and his team create the delicious goodness we’ll be about to eat. It’s quite a neat spot—you just after to make sure to arrive early enough since they don’t take reservations. But, if you don’t get in there’s always Stone Nullah for a drink while you wait for a table. At least that’s what we do with the kiddos in tow.