Keeping up with May Kwok will leave you restless, and breathless. For starters, the New York native is a multi-hyphenate, in demand DJ and tastemaker to some of the most prestigious brands — all while holding down a full time job as an executive events producer. The Greenpoint, Brooklyn resident, who cut her teeth in fashion PR, started DJing at night for extra income and her crowd-pleasing taste in music has awarded her the opportunity to work with various fashion brands.
But after a few years of working in nightlife, May says, she started to feel its unhealthy extreme. She embarked on a fitness journey to create the best version of herself and found that feeling good physically helped focus her true passions. She took a solo trip to Nicaragua to surf—a sport that’s become central to her life—to improve her skills. Since then, she's ran two half-marathons.
Her dedication to fitness converged with her love for fashion, and so came about an activewear capsule collection co-designed with Alala. May All Day is inspired by, and made for, badass women with non-stop lifestyles. We spoke with Kwok to learn more about how she makes May All Day look easy.
How did this collaboration come about?
I had been following Alala for a few years because I’ve always felt synergy with the brand. Alala’s design aesthetic is forward, it looks cool, and it feels New York. I grew up here in New York, and I got myself into the fitness space too. I like to be active and also creative. So I felt a connection to the Alala woman. So my first outreach to Denise Lee [Alala’s founder] was through Instagram. A year ago, I DM-ed her, “I have this idea I want to pitch to you.” Then I emailed Denise, and we just started talking. The rest is history.
The Alala collaboration seems like a seamless project. What values do you share with Alala?
We have the same ideology, but having all these different passions somehow made our creative senses aligned. It was easy. I told them about my ideas and pulled some reference images together—everyone was so receptive. I worked with the design team. I selected colors. I selected fabrics. It was pretty seamless because our creative energy was so synchronized.
What was the starting point for this collection?
I was inspired by the idea of a badass a New York City woman, so the reference images I pulled were motorcycle-inspired. I also love color blocking. Then I molded the two ideas together for the collection.
Let’s take a step back and talk about about how you got here. How were you as a kid?
I grew up as an art kid, the artist in the family. I applied to art school, but then something happened: I started loving clothes, and my interest in art changed to an interest in fashion. So I pursued that instead and went to FIT. After I graduated, I worked in fashion PR for a while, for a showroom that represented fashion brands. But this was over 10 years ago. When I started freelancing a bit, I began working my way into the fashion scene. Then I was DJing, and that helped also my exposure. Now I’m DJing for some of the biggest brands.
How did you get into DJing?
At the that time, I was working in fashion during the day and I needed more income. So I began DJing at night at the bar I was working at.
In New York, people do so many things to make a living just like you. What exactly do you do?
It’s not uncommon to do multiple things. I have a full-time job as an event and production director at a creative agency called The Gathery. I produce other big events too. This is what I do on a daily: I work full-time, I have DJ gigs where I have a public persona, and I have these big projects that I’m passionate about, like this Alala collaboration.
What motivates you to do so much?
I’m just driven. I’ve always been. I have always strived for the best. Not that I don’t feel successful, because I really do feel successful, but I strive for more. I don’t think it’s a bad thing.
Who inspires you? Any other entrepreneurs?
People who have started these crazy brands by being very driven but also mostly by being themselves. Like Emily Weiss who founded Glossier. She loves makeup and skincare, so started writing about it. She created a blog, but pivoted to found a company that became one of the best and most coveted makeup lines.
What role does fitness play in your life?
Oh my god, that is a part of my so much of my life. In 2010-11, I started working in nightlife while also going out a lot, and that definitely wasn’t healthy. My first time really working out, I went to a Soul Cycle class and got out feeling amazing. So I just kept going. I eventually started setting goals for myself. I wanted to start running, because I hated running. I set goals, trained, and today I have ran two half-marathons. I love surfing though, and it’s one of my ultimate passions in life. I’ve always wanted to do it, but I was always too scared to try. Then I just did it, loved it and have grown to surf at an intermediate level. And I’ll keep growing, it’s one of my biggest passions now. Two years ago, my body fat percentage was 23%, now it’s at 17%. I like setting goals for myself because I’m always meeting them.
What songs are on your gym rotation?
I love SZA. I listen to her regularly.