Sukmawati Umar Litak
The New Paper
Thursday, Dec 10, 2015
She is the owner of fashion and beauty blog VainGloriousYou (VGY) and contemporary women's wear boutique of the same name.
At 27, Ms Tricia Ong is already considered a veteran social media influencer, having been in the industry for almost a decade.
No wonder then that she bagged the Beauty award at Influence Asia 2015 social media awards on Monday (Dec 7).
The 1st annual Influence Awards show was meant to bring together the region's top social media influencers to honour their achievements.
"To become an influencer that people can relate to, where you reveal truth about yourself on your own social media, it leaves you vulnerable to attacks."
"People do not see the hard work of an influencer who is genuine. They tend to form generalised opinions of influencers as a whole, which is not fair to us."
However, having been in the industry for almost a decade, Ms Ong believes she has already established herself her own personality as an influencer.
The New Paper spoke to Ms Ong before the awards to discuss her journey so far.
VAINGLORIOUSYOU — THE BUSINESS
"VainGloriousYou is a reflection of my passion that I made come alive," Ms Ong said. "I love designing. When I'm upset, I just have to look at my fabrics and designs and I know I have had a very fulfilling life. This is happiness to me."
Ms Ong had started her business early, in her last year of polytechnic at the age of 18.
At that time she was just an average teenager writing about her daily life in school, posting her outfits of the day, and talking about make-up products on her personal blog, which she shares with her classmates and the dance community that she was involved in.
It was only when she began receiving e-mails from readers, asking her where she got her clothes from and how much they cost, that she realised she was being looked up to as an opinion leader.
"Since I don't advertise myself or my blog, I was surprised by the comments and e-mails I received. I thought they were left by my classmates or the members of the dance community I was in."
After graduating from polytechnic, she took a gap year, where she worked for her father's business in the electrical shipping industry.
"There, I learned the ropes of the business, which includes buying and reselling. It was then I realised that I could do the same thing with clothes."
That's when she turned her personal blog into a blog shop, as a form of passive income, selling clothes she bought from wholesalers.
"It was tough. I had to find my own suppliers and I didn't have my own car. I was lucky that my father was very supportive of me, even offering to drive me around to carry my stocks and call me to make sure that I was okay."
Ms Ong also went on to SIM to study business to properly learn the framework of a business and manage the accounts.
Her mother, a strict piano teacher, on the other hand, was a different story.
It was difficult for Ms Ong to break the news to her mother, who had expected her to get a "proper job" after university.
"It was very hard to go home every day, to assure my parents that business is doing well and that I am able to support myself."
It was such a strain to their relationship that Ms Ong decided to move out and live on her own when she was 24.
"It's much better now. The three years apart seemed to help as she could see for herself how confident I was about my business to be able to live apart and fend for my own."
Now, she lives with her fiancé, Mr John Tham, the director of Salon Vim at 313 Somerset.
"He accepts my social media life, accepts me doing this job that does not have a stable income, and accepts that I'm constantly running around day-to-day meeting clients."
Ms Ong feels lucky to have him by her side, as he has helped her through times when she thought of giving up.
"It is not easy being in an industry where people are more critical of what you say and less empathetic towards your situation as a whole," she said.
"There are times when influencers are cast in a bad light and it gets me thinking if it is worth it having my name put out there as an influencer.
"He tells me - 'You are the face of your business. You are VGY and VGY is you. You can never give up either one.' It is good that I have someone to talk to about these kinds of things."
Ms Ong says she feels heartened when people believe her reviews and what she writes about and smiles as she talks about the heartfelt e-mails she receive from her readers.
"At the end of the year, I always write a closure blog post as a reflection of the year. That's when I receive e-mails telling how my posts on the difficulties I face in my life and for my business are relatable and have helped them through their own difficulties as well."
She added: "I get very happy when I receive these kinds of e-mails."
"I love maxi dresses. I have a very short frame and wearing a maxi dress with a higher waist actually makes my legs look longer. That is why VGY is known for our maxi dresses."
This article was first published on December 10, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.