Creative Direction 101: How To Be Your Own Creative Director

Being a creative director is the dream job of the 21st century. As the closest thing to a CEO, a creative director has a lot on her plate. For the past one and a half years since I launched Soeng Signature, I never thought that I’ll be writing this guide and be a creative director of my own brand.

With Instagram as a virtual moodboard, it feels so easy to sit there and copy whatever’s available because sadly, that is how the fashion industry operates. Even though it’s totally OK to be inspired by what you see, what exactly is the point of being a creative director if you really can’t create at all?!

If you are a young creative director and you’re trying to navigate the waters of this role, I got you covered. 😉

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Are Superfoods The Superheros For Our Skin?

Eight years ago, I was an omnivore that enjoyed eating sushi, steaks, pizza and satay. I was also eating all sorts of yummy, but healthy snacks that somehow toed on the line of unhealthy. Even though I was on the way to start my senior year of high school, my skin was going through some puberty and stress-induced changes of spots, blackheads and oiliness. My mom sent me to see celebrity dermatologist Dr. Harold Lancer.

During my appointment, Dr. Lancer dropped the bomb that I was treating my skin horribly with meat, raw fish and pizza. Rather than eating all the no-no foods, he advised me to eat more greens. From there, I started to think twice about what I ate.

Flash forward to 2019, I love a cup of coffee with almond milk and two tablespoons of Moon Juice’s Beauty Shroom, count on gluten-free meals, subsist on acai bowls and avoid anything with dairy to keep my skin crystal clear. (However, I can’t keep myself away from deep fried food!) While eating the right food can obviously do wonders for my skin, the same kinda goes for the right skincare.

Enter Rooki Beauty. As a newly founded local skincare brand, they’ve been successfully launching themselves as a rising force with a superfood-based face cleanser, moisturizer and mask. They slid into my DMs, asked me if they can send some items for review and as a skincare/wellness junkie, that was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Before I continue to my review, can superfoods be applied topically to save your skin?

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Real Girls Talk: A Girl’s Guide To KonMari’ing Your Toxic Friends

Sparking joy sounds like the biggest cliché you heard in 2019, but it has a ring of truth in it. No matter how sad or happy you feel, nothing makes your heart warm up more than a friend who is there for you at your best and worst moments. When time reveals that the friend you counted on is like a low quality Zara dress, is it time to toss the friendship in the donations box?

As someone who’s struggled with friendships all my life, it hurts to think about the new friend whose behavior often makes me question the friendship. Although I mainly like to blog about fashion, beauty, travel and get real with your Man Crush Mondays, I’ve been beginning to realize that as much as you look up to me as your resident kween, I am just a girl who deals with everyday struggles like you.

Given that I never had an easy time making friends at school, I always felt that having to keep around friends was a personal challenge for me as I had to break up with some whose actions broke my heart.

Even though we have times when we almost contemplate about ending a friendship, the simple principle on who to keep in your life goes on like this:

Despite this fuss-free KonMari method, there’s no “perfect” friend as we often make mistakes and fix them in a friendship. If you feel that you are having a hard time deciding on keeping a friendship or unable to define the types of red flags your friend’s been sending, here’s a lil’ guide on the types of behaviors you need to steer clear of:

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MCM: Chase Mana Kai

Los Angeles isn’t dubbed “The City of Angels” for nothing. As a land filled with smartphone equipped pretty faces, anyone can sit there and carve out a career with Instagram. Chase Mana Kai, a 22-year-old model, is not just another pretty face with a hot body.

As an Aries born on the cusp of Taurus, he embodies every facet of the Cusp of Power: ambition, strength and impulse. While most people wouldn’t dare to move out of their hometown, the San Francisco-born Kai decided to pack his bags to LA just to “chase a life” that he’d be proud of. Although he’s got an ever-growing portfolio and currently signed to IMG (a.k.a. the fashion world’s biggest modeling industry titan), the rising star is an affable family boy that you’d like to bring home to meet your parents for dinner.

We catch up over e-mail to talk about how he got signed to IMG, why he isn’t afraid to share his feelings on social media and the one crystal he can’t live without.

What do you love most about modeling? Do you plan to stick to modeling permanently? 

CK: I love modeling because it keeps me accountable for being healthy and working out. It also reminds me a lot about not comparing myself and loving myself. I do plan to stick to modeling permanently but it is not my only passion.

You’re signed to IMG, which is one of the biggest agencies in the world. How did you end up being signed by them and what made you want to work with them? 

CK:  I’m signed to IMG because of my mother agent and former mother agent. I wanted to work with them because of their excitement to work with me. I don’t care about notoriety of agency I only care of the agency sees potential in adding me to their team and when I met with them it had that kind of chemistry. 

As a male model, you are often surrounded by so many beautiful people (seriously, that makes me nervous!). How do you feel about being surrounded by people who are as equally attractive as you? Do you think that it makes you feel more/less insecure about your own looks? 

CK: Being surrounded by beautiful people doesn’t phase (sic) me at all. I don’t think that looks define who you are, how you treat yourself and others defines who you are. Also[,] I am a former chubby kid that feels like he wished upon a star and his dream came true (when it comes to looks) so I never really feel insecure about how I look unless someone insults me.

Apart from modeling, you seem like a family boy as you always post photos of your brother and sister. What are the biggest life lessons that your siblings taught you?  

CK: My sister almost single-handedly taught me how to love myself. My brother teaches me everyday the importance of being vulnerable and emotional and loving. They are my world. I’m literally tearing up as I think about everything they’ve done for me. 

I’ve noticed that so many men are preoccupied with work and family. However, there are some who feel like they have to sacrifice their family in order to achieve their dreams. When did you realize that you can achieve your dreams without having to sacrifice your family life? 

CK: Family is supposed to be there through every decision you make. When I told mine that I never want to sacrifice my dreams they were on board with it 100%. The ONLY reason I’m doing what I’m doing is because I have a mother, brother and sister that believe in me. I can’t stress how lucky I am to have them as a support system and intrinsic motivation everyday. 

What I like about you is that you’re not afraid to share show your sensitive side on Instagram and TBH, I don’t see many men like you doing this. When did you realize that as a man, it’s OK to show sensitivity and vulnerability? Were you raised to show your feelings to people who aren’t your family members in public?   

CK: I grew up around a lot of toxic masculinity outside of the household and I would come home and it would be the opposite of that. I never really understood the need for men to forsake their emotions. I am sensitive, I cry, I goof around, but I also know that I am strong and that those parts of me don’t take away from my strength or credibility as a man. That is part of me and it has been from the beginning. Nothing will change that. 

We see that you love to travel around the world! What’s the number one thing you can’t live without while you’re traveling? 

CK: One thing I can’t live without while traveling is my black tourmaline. I’m a rock nerd and I love my rocks cause they protect me & surround me with good energy. 

Lastly, if you have to move out of LA, where will you live? 

CK: If I moved out of LA I would probably live in Hawaii. 

All photos by Drew Pluta

Getting Red-dy For The Party: A Guide On The Best Red Lipsticks Of All Time

Growing up, I’ve always seen my mom wear red lipstick. There’s never a moment where my mom ditched her tubes of Chanel and Cle de Peau. As a gloss girl throughout my childhood, I never bothered to wear lipstick until I went to NYC in the summer of 2011. In NYC, I was always distracted by the beauty aisle at Duane Reade, Space NK and Sephora. While I was hesitant to try any other shade outside of pink and nude, the biggest life-changing moment happened when I stumbled across a row of Lime Crime lipsticks at Space NK.

Say what you want about the most controversial indie beauty brand, but Lime Crime’s campy pinky purple tube contained the brightest neon red. Dubbed “Retrofuturist”, this blue-based red felt so right. The moment I swatched it on the back of my hand, my eyes immediately fell in love. As I tried it on at my sister’s studio apartment, I knew that red lipstick is destined to stay inside my makeup bag.

Now that I’m an avid lipstick collector, there is never a day when I am never without rouge (save for some gloss or lip balm). If this is your first time wearing red, don’t be shy.

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A Girl’s Guide To Singapore’s Hidden Gems

Forget about seeing the Merlion statue or an obligatory photo of the Marina Bay Sands. If you think that Singapore is what you see in Crazy Rich Asians, believe me, the one you see on screen is just another Hollywood fantasy.

Deep inside the Lion City’s dense concrete jungle, there’s a buzzing energy that sweeps beyond the MRT. Inside the packed streets, there’s always a new café or art gallery popping around the block or a mere tap away thanks to Instagram. Given that it’s so easy to walk past anywhere in the +65, the best experiences are always from the hidden hotspots. 

Must you go to any coffee shop (not the Amsterdam kinds, mind you!), bar, restaurant or club, sometimes, a little post on the ‘gram is all it takes to immortalize the experience and tell all your friends about it.

Since Singapore’s been through 1,001 face lifts every year, here are some hidden gems that you need to add on your bookmark ASAP:  

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Man Crush Monday: Scott Smith

A couple of weeks ago, I was on the hunt for a new job on LinkedIn and a sudden notification appeared on top of the tab. Stirred by my curiosity, a familiar face and name wanted to connect with me years after we’ve graduated high school together seven years ago. While I scrolled through his accomplishments and bio, I was shocked that the former jock I met in high school bloomed into an entrepreneur with two companies under his portfolio. Although I could’ve stopped gawking at his page, I suddenly jumped to my Insta, surfed through his photos and upon looking at his selfies, my jaw dropped. The babyfaced teen who bloomed into a handsome entrepreneur is Scott Smith.

Articulate, honest to the bone and empathetic, this passionate 25-year-old Melbourne-born Piscean describes himself as someone who has the “crippling joints of a 97-year-old” with a face of “16-year-old girl”. Alongside his sense of humor, Smith’s been loaded with three degrees inside his handbag for majoring in communications, economics and Chinese. On top of being able to juggle multiple subjects, the NYC-based bachelor has two companies: Parvenu and Edgepoint.

In spite of an extremely tight schedule, Smith and I get real about how he joined Parvenu, share styling tips for men, what it’s like to juggle two jobs, why helping others succeed sparks joy and the sexiest trait he admires in a woman.

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