Jill Vidal, better known by her Chinese stage name Wei Si, can now add jewellery designer to her résumé.
The Canto-pop singer has just launched a line of accessories, Vidal, in collaboration with international charity Eden Ministry, which helps women who were victims of human trafficking and provides training for them to create jewellery.
This all started pretty much by accident. “I broke one of my favourite bracelets, which was irreplaceable,” Vidal recalls. “I ended up going to shops to buy pieces to stick the broken jewellery back together, and from there on, I went crazy. I bought a lot of materials for bracelets and spent time making them.”
When Vidal heard about Eden Ministry from a friend last year, she decided to collaborate with them.
Delicate charm bracelets made with sapphire stones from Myanmar and set in 18-karat gold make up the core of Vidal’s debut offerings.
The collection is called “46”, which Vidal explains is a number that began “popping up all over the place”. A devout Christian, she looked into the number in the scriptures and found several passages associated with it that were particularly meaningful.
“One of them [the passages] says: ‘Do not be anxious about anything, lift up your prayers to God, and his peace will come upon you.’ That spoke very personally to me,” she says.
For Vidal, it’s been a “healing process” after an unusual journey.
Most fans are familiar with her story. Born to a Filipino father and Korean mother, Vidal and her twin sister, Janice – better known as singer Wei Lan – grew up in Hong Kong.
Making her debut in the entertainment industry in 2006 – two years after Janice – Vidal released her first album, Hit Me, the same year. Despite speaking limited Cantonese at the time, both sang in the language and managed to gain a fanbase for their bubbly, outgoing personas.
Their profiles skyrocketed, although a drug scandal abroad in 2009 almost ended Vidal’s career.
“There have been lots of ups and downs,” she admits. “I was ready to surrender what was in front of me. I didn’t know if I would continue in the entertainment industry.”
Following a spell in rehab, she has worked hard on rebuilding her career in the years since then. It was also during this time that she found faith.
“I’ve been discovering myself. I trusted guidance from above. Here I am, back in the industry,” she says.
Reflecting on the past, Vidal says her troubles were a blessing in disguise.
“I regret disappointing my friends and family, but because it happened, it made me who I am today. I felt like it had a greater purpose.” Aside from promoting her jewellery line, Vidal is hard at work in the studio recording a new single. She also has a girl band, Dear John, and will be touring the mainland with her sister in the coming year.
Fame isn’t easy for her, though. “It’s a blessing to have a platform, to be a type of influence. The struggle is, it’s a bit competitive here.”
Her identity, too, has proven to be a hurdle in the local music industry. “I’m not very good at expressing myself in Cantonese, even though I sing in it,” she laughs. “When I do interviews [in Cantonese], I feel a lot of pressure because I’m not able to fully convey myself. There’s almost a barrier – I can’t put what I want to say into words.
“When I sing a song, I have to really study the lyrics.”
Speaking of studying, Vidal thinks young Hongkongers should relax a little.
“I understand students want to do well, but failing a subject doesn’t determine the rest of your life,” she says. “That was the case with me: my mum gave me such a hard time with my report cards. In the end, science wasn’t involved in my destiny.
“Find what you’re good at – your path, your purpose – and go with that.”
Edited by Lucy Christie