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HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Most little girls dream of being ballerinas and princesses. But Anna Sui says she knew she wanted to be a fashion designer since she was four years old. And she's been able to realize that dream. What started out as a small homegrown fashion label launched out of her New York City apartment in 1980 is now a business turning over hundreds of millions of dollars a year. It's still a private company, but has grown beyond clothing to include cosmetics, accessories, fragrances and a range of licensed products ... there's even a Barbie doll! Today Anna Sui products are sold in thirty countries. CNN's Andrew Stevens met up with the American designer in her Hong Kong boutique and asked her what breeds success.
Stevens: Is it luck, is it creativity and focus, or is it something else?
Sui: I think it is a matter of timing too. I think you have to be in the right place at the right time. And understand that and know when it is your time and how you react to it and how you respond to it. There was one moment that I realized it was the right time. I went to the Paris fashion shows for the first time and we happened to be going to a Gaultier show with Madonna and when she took her coat off she looked at me and said :Anna I have a surprise for you: and she was wearing my dress! And that gave me so much confidence. To realize that someone that could have anything was wearing my dress!
Stevens: You have been quoted saying that you couldn't even balance a checkbook when you began all of those years ago, but you do have your CEO Michael Pellegrino doing the numbers, but how important is it for someone like you to understand the business side of what is going on?
Sui: Well I think that in the beginning I just wanted to do the clothes that I wanted to do. And little by little you realize that you have to analyze what, how it did and what sold and what people are asking for and what is it that your strengths are. And what your weaknesses are and learn to balance those things out.
Stevens: Do you think that people are born to be good business people or do you think that you can actually learn to do it?
Sui: I think in my case I kind of learned it. I never intended being a business person I wanted to be a fashion designer. I thought I was going to be sketching pretty dresses and going to lunch every day. And it hasn't turned out that way.
Stevens: So why did you choose to become more involved in business when you could of I guess stayed very much on the creative side of things?
Sui: I think I got really interested in it. I think that was just as creative as designing the clothing. So it is something I grew into and I enjoy just as much.
Stevens: Since you started the business the world has gotten smaller but how do you think globalization has changed the rules for you and people like you in the fashion industry?
Sui: I think it has become a whole other ballgame at this point. I think that fashion has become such a big business and with globalization we are on new territory at this point. We are not just designing for a country we are designing for a world now. So I think that it takes a certain type of person that can really understand that there are different customer needs in different regions.
Stevens: Do self made people like you actually retire?
Sui: I think about that all of the time and I have this fantasy that I am going to work at a museum someday! I would love to do something like that!
Stevens: Why a museum?
Sui: I love research. I love learning about new things and what is behind it and behind that so it can go on and on. And that is what I do with every collection so why not do it in a different way at a museum.