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Exclusive: Kittie Yiyi on expanding her empire to the beauty business

Exclusive: Kittie Yiyi on expanding her empire to the beauty business

Homegrown beauty

Text: Redzhanna Jazmin

Image: Sarah Tai for BURO Malaysia

What happens when makeup and NFTs collide? Local entrepreneur Kittie Yiyi dishes on her brand new beauty brand and more

In the first instalment of BURO Beauty Chats, we're talking to one of Malaysia's brightest creatives—and we mean that literally. Fashion-designer-slash-influencer Kittie Yiyi is best known for her vibrant and unconventional style, having made quite the name for herself since launching her eponymous fashion brand at KLFW in 2014.

Eight years on, the 31-year-old has kept plenty busy, with her most recent venture being a headfirst dive into the beauty industry. Yes—in addition to fashion designer and social media starlet, you can now add beauty mogul into the busy bee's ever-growing list of accomplishments.

Ahead, we're gleaning the inside scoop on Kittie Yiyi Beauty—from the inspiration behind the brand's debut collection to a potential upcoming venture into the NFT market, read our exclusive below:

You’re best known for your work in the fashion industry. What inspired you to launch a beauty brand and make that jump?

"I always enjoy doing my makeup, especially when I draw eyeliner on a daily basis. Although fashion is my main passion, I really want to share my joys, knowledge, and insights while creating my own beauty products. I believe it's not just giving opinions or reviews, but understanding the process and also learning from it. We are definitely looking into improving and creating more products in the future."

What is the brand ethos behind Kittie Yiyi Beauty?

"Art is connected to life. We see beauty as a form of expression; a journey of self-discovery to accept one’s true self, good and bad. We don’t want to be a brand that just manufactures and markets products. We strive to bring joy, humour, creativity, and positive energy to our audience. We hope to empower others and connect all art enthusiasts from makeup to food in order to break the stigma and discrimination towards the art industry and create a supportive and loving community."

What sets Kittie Yiyi Beauty apart from the rest of Malaysia’s beauty market?

"Our tagline, 'you are so weird, don’t change' celebrates that nobody is perfect—everyone is different and we should just be our special and unique selves! What sets us apart is not only the innovation of our products, but also the mindset and intentions to try and empower others while giving back to the art community. I believe that is what's lacking and I want to try and contribute with what I can."

Why did you choose the ‘Cross the Line’ eyeliner collection as your debut launch for the brand?

READ: I tried Kittie Yiyi's new eyeliner collection and it did not disappoint

"As I said earlier, I enjoy drawing eyeliner on a daily basis. My signature makeup look is my eyeliner. As a fashion designer and influencer who has been in this industry for so long, I have some knowledge and see much room for improvement. There is a saying that the eyes are the windows to the soul—the eyes never lie. The essence of my passion, beliefs, and the soul of the brand focuses on the eye. An opening of a new chapter in my life, to open more doors, more opportunities, and connect with others."

The new collection has a really striking colour story—what inspired you to pick these shades for the liners (and how did you come up with the names for them)?

"It is hard for me to find striking coloured eyeliners in this market. So, I first picked blue, yellow, and red as they are the primary colours. Then, black and white as they are the basic shades. Finally, pink, because it is my favourite colour.

"The names were decided by the team. We had a good time brainstorming on how the colours can celebrate different individuals and personalities. I am sure you can find your very own colours from our Cross The Line eyeliner collection."

The campaign is one of our favourites to date—what was the inspiration behind the ‘Cross the Line’ show?

"It is one of my favourite works to date too! I’m super thankful to the entire team and cast—everyone played their roles really well!

"Ads are usually very boring, conservative, and we can get very sick of constantly looking at pretty, but empty visuals. We wanted more. We wanted to add a fun and quirky element combined with the '80s narrator concept. It had to be eye-catching, comedic, yet educational at the same time."

What makeup tips do you have for anyone using the liners?

"I always make sure that I pat down the oils on my eye area before I start drawing my eyeliner. My best tip is to keep your skincare to a minimum (I usually apply just sunscreen as my base) and ensure the area is dry for a smooth application that stays put all day. It's one of the best methods so far."

What did the production process look like for the ‘Cross the Line’ collection?

"We spent a year brainstorming the whole idea and planning for the debut. From product trial and error to packaging design, it took us six months to come up with the best solution. We also faced a lot of hardships before the launch. There was once when the entire stock was defective! It was super stressful but I'm glad we managed to pull through and stand where we are today."

What's the story around the motifs behind your fashion and beauty brands? The bee and the rainbow are a huge theme within your brand.

"I love, love, love rainbow colours! I call them happy colours! Aren't we always excited to see the rainbow? It symbolises happiness, hope, and our inner child. I hope people are as happy as seeing a rainbow when they see our brand.

"With the bee, it's one of my lucky motifs that I carried over from my debut collection. A bee is hardworking and produces a nest of honey together with its friends and family. Similarly, we can create something from nothing, and support our happiness together. Almost everyone in the fashion industry sees and acknowledges me for my work, and I'm very grateful for that."

The visuals for Kittie Yiyi Beauty are stunning—someone even suggested making it into an NFT! Who created your 3D renders and how did you conceptualise them? Any plans to go into the NFT market?

"Yes! I am exploring NFTs at the moment. It's very interesting. Hopefully, we will be in the market soon. To give credit, the 3D artwork was created by local artists @sandman.__ and @Jun.obj."

What’s coming up for KYB in the future? Can you divulge on any future launches yet (or just give us a little hint)?

"There are many ideas and directions we want to explore. For now, we will focus on eye-related products. One of the things that we're planning is to provide more educational content and be more inclusive, in the hopes of empowering others. As we are an evolving small team, we hope people will continue to support us so that we can continue to bring a variety of products that are unique, innovative and high-quality. Do look out for updates on our Insta page!"

Shop the Cross the line collection here. Follow Kittie Yiyi on Instagram here.

Find more beauty interviews like this here.