One of the things I’ve most loved about launching Husskie is the opportunity to meet some of the influencers who I have long admired their work. The Tia Fox’s Melanie Liu fits right into this category. And if I thought I liked her before doing the interview, things just stepped up a notch.
Taking time out at the recent Botanicals Fresh Care launch, a new haircare brand from L’Oréal with a sustainable and eco-conscious ethos, Melanie and I sat out the back chatting all things The Tia Fox –from what the name actually means to why having a corporate background is actually a blessing for blogging. Here, we unravel the whole conversation [be prepared for some #girlcrushing]…
First up, we love the name ‘The Tia Fox’. Where does this come from?
The Tia Fox, in particular the ‘fox’, comes from the Arctic fox. The Arctic fox is white and lives in this extreme environment – so in order for it to thrive, it really needs to be quite determined. That’s really similar to my personality: I’m a very determined person. I’m very resilient and never give up, I’m always pushing forward and doing what I love despite any obstacles… so that’s where the ‘fox’ came from. ‘Tia’ was just a name I really loved. If I had a daughter, that’s what I wanted to name her. Now I can’t because it’s the name of my blog, but that’s where it came from!
You launched The Tia Fox in 2014. Why did you originally decide to start blogging?
It originally started as a personal blog, as a creative outlet to showcase what I’m doing, my personal style, and my travels. I created my Instagram in 2014, but I wasn’t really active on that platform until after my wedding in 2015. That was when I really had the space to relax and let my creativity come through. When I went on my honeymoon to Santorini, Mykonos, and Paris, I think that’s really when I truly started The Tia Fox. The start of it all was really with the travel – and that’s when agencies started to contact me asking if I wanted to come to events and things like that. I really didn’t know what it was about but I thought: “Let’s give it a go. If I love it, I’ll continue. If I don’t, then I can always do something else.” For me, I fell in love with it and then after half a year, I left my corporate job. I was working in banking for a long time and I left that behind and have been doing blogging full-time ever since.
How did it feel leaving behind a stable, corporate job?
It was really hard because I guess you’re leaving behind a lot of things… a stable income! But, I definitely haven’t looked back, I love what I do. I’m really passionate about it and I just can’t imagine doing anything else. I think once you take that leap, you just never look back.
Why do you think you went into a corporate space when you’ve got such a strong creative side?
I think I’ve been really creative since I was young, but being from an Asian background – that’s never as encouraged as getting good marks at school. There has always been more of an academic focus with my upbringing. But I think at the end of the day, life is short and you have to do what you love. So for me, it just made sense to transition to here – but I do really feel like my corporate background lends to what I do from a business perspective as well.
It does seem that to be successful in the influencer space these days, you do need to have a bit of business know-how…
Absolutely. It’s about being professional when you are booked for something. I think that’s where my background really comes in handy. When you work in a corporate environment, you’re trained to be professional no matter what the situation is, as well as how to deal with the situation. I definitely don’t have any regrets about working in corporate as I really love that I’ve had that experience and it does help with what I do now.
We absolutely love your feed. When you started Instagram, did you have a similar aesthetic?
My earlier day aesthetics were inspired by Santorini – its beautiful white-washed walls with pops of blue from the sea and the windows. My feed has always had a minimal and clean aesthetic but with that pop of colour. Whether it is blue or pink, I think my feed has continued to maintain that aesthetic from Santorini.
What do you think it is about your feed that has seen it gain so much traction?
I’ve always had an eye for detail and I’m a bit of perfectionist as well, so that has really helped me fine tune the images. Also, especially with travelling, I feel like it’s very dreamy and whimsical – so for me, my aesthetics are very dreamy and whimsical as that’s just what I like. My social media and brand is really a reflection of me and my lifestyle. I think with your Instagram feed, you really have to live and breathe it and you have to be really passionate about it. If I’m travelling, if I’m eating, or if I’m at an event – my feed always reflects whatever I’m doing and whatever I enjoy. My feed evolves with me.
Do you spend much time filtering your images?
I prefer not to because it takes a lot of time, I’d prefer to capture a beautiful image if I can. If it’s not the right lighting, I don’t take photos. I’m not going to try and take a photo in the dark or, for example, if I’m doing a beauty shot – I try and make sure that my makeup is done well and my hair looks great. It’s really just making sure that I capture the image in an ideal situation as opposed to forcing the image. I get asked the question a lot: “What filter do you use?” or “What editing tools do you use?” – it’s probably my number one question – but honestly I don’t use a filter, I’ll just up the brightness or contrast a bit.
When you’re in the shots, who’s taking the photo?
I have various photographers, but my favourite is my husband – he’s the one who started taking my photos. Especially when we’re travelling – he’s with me most of the time, he’s a bit of an Insta hubby! I feel quite lucky that he helps me with my photos.
What has been your career-defining moment?
I guess when I left to do blogging full-time, it meant I could put all my energy into my passion and what I love doing. But also getting to work with some of the brands that I’ve grown up with that I love and enjoy – it’s such a dream come true.
Has there been any hard times?
I always try to be positive and welcome any challenge because every challenge makes you grow. Everyone’s going to have their ups and downs, but I see it as a new adventure.
You recently teamed up with L’Oréal for the launch of their new Botanicals Fresh Care brand. Can you tell me about this?
I’m an ambassador for one of the four categories that make up the range. My one is coriander, which smells amazing and makes my hair look great. It’s organics mixed with science. Now that I have long hair, I have to maintain it, which is hard. Botanicals makes my hair feel really soft and nourished – I just love it… It was such a great brand alignment.
Can you talk me through a usual day in your life?
There are no days that are the same, every day is so different. I usually try and have a good routine in terms of waking up at the same time, having that ‘me’ time, enjoying breakfast and a coffee… then I start my day by checking emails or scrolling through Instagram, replying to comments. But then it could be anything from attending events or photoshoots – it’s just always so different and that’s what I love about what I do. You have that freedom and flexibility to do what you want to do each day. That’s probably my favourite part. One of the other things I really enjoy about what I do is meeting new people from different walks of life that I never would have had the opportunity to meet. There’s so many people and interesting stories. That’s what I love about my job.
The influencer space does seem to lend itself to people making new friends. Do you find yourself hanging out with other bloggers/influencers away from work situations?
Definitely! We catch up for a non-Instagram brunch or something like that. We definitely do catch-up outside of events. It’s nice to meet new people and hear their stories and how their journey came about – I feel like everyone has a differently journey that got them to where they are today.
What can we expect next from The Tia Fox?
I think what’s next is a bit more focus on the beauty space. A lot of things I’ve done recently really is a testament to where it’s heading.
All images: @thetiafox