Chriselle Lim has more than 649,000 followers on YouTube, front-row seats at fashion weeks around the world and regularly posts shots of herself and Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Alba and Hillary Clinton on Instagram. It would seem that the fashion influencer is living a perfect life in style. But the Korean-American entrepreneur has experienced difficulties on her ascent to Internet fame over the past four years. There have been lessons from healthy competition, vulnerability and the responsibilities of motherhood in caring for daughter Chloe. Here, she shares with #legend the evolution of the Chriselle Lim brand.
You started out as a stylist. What is it about styling that you enjoy or even love?
I love that when you put together a beautiful outfit or an unexpected combination, you can see people light up and become so much more confident. It shows you how powerful clothes can be for a woman’s confidence.
And how did that turn into your blog, The Chriselle Factor?
I started my blog as a mood board for myself. As for the YouTube channel, it came about when I met [make-up artist and YouTube personality] Michelle Phan. I met her through a friend and I wanted to check out her work.
I was expecting a traditional portfolio but I ended up on her YouTube account. I thought, this is crazy. I studied it for a month and then I realised that no one was really doing fashion content. I taught myself how to edit, created my first video and it just grew from there. I remember not sleeping and working all the time those first few months. I got so much joy from creating those videos. Now I can voice my thoughts on how to create a video because I was so hands-on in the beginning.
Was it awkward watching yourself in YouTube videos at first?
It was so awkward. I couldn’t even watch them for two years because I hated seeing myself or hearing my voice. I never intended to be in front of the camera, ever. But you just keep doing it, even though it feels weird, and eventually it feels normal.
You started The Chriselle Factor to empower women to discover their true beauty. How does it do that?
It’s evolved. I started with the intention to help women feel beautiful; that’s why I started being a stylist. But I’ve changed. I started when I was single and fresh out of college, and now I’m a mum. I have a lot more responsibilities. When I first started, I just wanted people to feel amazing in their clothes and that’s true to this day. But it’s more than just clothes. It’s your mentality, what you eat, how you work out, the products that you put on your skin, the relationship that you have with your boyfriend or husband, and how you balance motherhood.
What’s your relationship with Michelle Phan like nowadays?
Do I get to see Michelle as much as I’d like to? No, just because she is so busy and I am so busy. But we have each other’s backs, and if we ever need something, we’re just a text or a phone call away. With the blogging community, it’s important for all of us to support one another. I’ve found so many great friends through blogging and YouTube. Like anything else in life, it can also be competitive. I think you have to take it with a grain of salt and use competition as a positive thing to help you get better. So many girls are doing so many cool and interesting things. Once you understand that, no one is your competitor; it’s just pure inspiration from everyone.
How would you describe your look or style?
I would say I’m mainly feminine, with a masculine touch.
Are there any regrettable looks?
Absolutely. It’s part of evolving as a person to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Nowadays, I have no pressure to put on something for someone. It’s all about how I feel and what I want to wear at the moment.
How do you decide who to partner with?
I give everyone a chance to share what they’re trying to market, and we as a team evaluate whether it aligns with the Chriselle brand. If it’s a product I don’t feel comfortable sharing with my friends and family, I won’t do it. I never feel pressured to promise brands promotions.
What was your favourite video to shoot?
There’s this one video I did in partnership with SK-II. They gave us full creative freedom to create a film. It was a story based on a miscarriage I went through. I always felt like I wasn’t my true self in my videos before that video because I had a hard time opening up and talking to the camera. Everything was beautifully produced and scripted. And I think that the moment I had my miscarriage, I was so vulnerable; I felt I just had to be honest. That video really allowed me to open up and be my true self. I realised I didn’t always have to live this picture-perfect, glamorous life. I decided I could maybe affect people’s lives for the better. There are things I want to respect with my family and I am very aware of all that, but I feel I’ve just become a lot more open since.
Do you have any big upcoming projects? How will you expand the Chriselle Lim brand?
We’re growing The Chriselle Factor faster than ever and we’re coming out with more
topics and content. Beyond that, we’re looking into products. Another big thing is Asia. I’ve always loved Asia. I was raised in Korea and I’ve always had a lot of followers supporting me in Asia. For the next few months we’ll be in Asia a lot more, creating specific content just for different countries.
Who is your legend, style or otherwise?
My legend is my grandma on my dad’s side. She is fearless. She was the first gynaecologist in South Korea. If you can imagine back in the 50s and 60s, there weren’t that many. She was able to raise four boys and one of them was my dad. A woman of faith and just one of the classiest women I know: I saw her in Korea and she was dressed to the nines just to take Chloe to the park. She looked like she was going to a wedding. She’s amazing.