Catie Li kicks off 2022 with her fashion line for Amazon’s The Drop collection. “New collaborations drop with little notice and are only available to shop for 30 hours,” said the Los Angeles-based model. “Clothes are made on demand once orders are placed so fabric and material are never wasted! My collection consists of great statement staple pieces that can be for all seasons. (They’re) made to be forever in your closet and wardrobe rotation. Since I travel often, I like to travel light, so staples that can be styled multiple ways are a win for me.” Li stays in touch with fans on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/catieli/).
Q: As a Chinese American woman, did you feel extra pressure to look a certain way?
A: I think for me, I put a lot of pressure on myself as well. With being Asian, there has always been a thing about being skinny and lighter skin. But since I’m half, there is definitely a pressure of not being Asian enough. Because I am half, some people believe I know nothing about my culture, which is false. I grew up eating Chinese food every day and only spoke Chinese with my grandmother.
Q: Do you miss all the traveling you did pre-pandemic?
A: When I first started modeling, it was very exciting for me. I would be traveling two to three times a week. When COVID hit, everything stopped, but it was much needed for me. Traveling can be very exhausting and I needed the break. I am a homebody, so it hasn’t bothered me much until a few months ago. I have been dying to get out and just relax!
Q: How have you been spending your free time during this pandemic?
A: I recently got engaged and bought a home, so most of my time currently is spent at home in renovations with my fiancé. We’re focusing all our time on preparing for our wedding and renos. We also have two lab puppies, so we do take lots of walking adventures with them.
Q: If you had to cancel travel plans due to the pandemic, where were they to?
A: I was lucky enough I didn’t have to cancel travel plans, but I did have to change my wedding venue and put my wedding on hold a few times.
Q: What has been your favorite vacation destination?
A: The best relaxing vacation I went to was St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands). The water and scenery are breathtaking. Just going to all the beaches is what makes the entire trip. It’s a part of the U.S., so traveling is a bit easier.
Q: What was the first trip you took as a child?
A: My dad insisted on doing a Disneyland and Las Vegas trip every year since I graduated from college. I guess it was killing two birds with one stone – Disney for the kids and Vegas for the parents. (Laughs) Looking back, I love that we did that. But growing up going to the same place every year was boring as a teen. I guess our parents spoiled us too much, because looking back, that was a luxury.
Q: What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?
A: Travel as light as possible! One time, I brought two suitcases to Venice (Italy) and had to drag them through stone walkways! (Laughs) Also, invest in great suitcases and organizational pieces. I love CalPak for that.
Q: If you could only pick one place to eat, would you choose a casual meal at a street cart or fine dining at a nice restaurant?
A: I mean, if you are traveling in Italy, literally any pasta place is chef’s kiss. But in L.A., I like going to Newport Seafood Restaurant in San Gabriel for my Chinese food fix. The lobster noodles are to die for! When traveling, I think you have to read about the scene. Some cities are known for carts and some for their restaurants. I try to do what the place is known for.
Q: Where is the most romantic destination?
Q: Do you speak any foreign languages?
A: I lightly speak Cantonese. I did study abroad in France but lost all my French-speaking skills. I have a harder time picking it up.
Q: What are your five favorite places?
A: Miami, Paris, St. John, Playa Del Carmen, Rome.
Q: When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A: My packing cubes, my backpack and electronic organizer.
Q: What would be your dream trip?
A: I would love to do a safari adventure in Africa. Crossing my fingers I can do it for my honeymoon.
Q: What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?
A: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos!
Q: What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?
A: The best vacations have always been with my fiancé. We have so much fun. The worst was being sick in London with no family and friends there for support!
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow “Go Away With…” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)