Amber Chia: Malaysia’s Original Influencer - Special Edition
You’re sitting in a restaurant that’s famously known overseas and joining across your table is a group of fashionable millennials taking their seats after few minutes of negotiation on where is the best spot. Their gold chain purses hang at the side of their ripped mom jeans and graphic floral-printed tops with their minimal no-makeup makeup look. Everyone is busy chatting their brunch hour away on a sunny Sunday while waiting for their scrumptious meals.
After placing food on the table, the millennials quickly reach for their phones and squeal softly at their aesthetically-pleasing choices to take pictures. One girl stood up from her chair to properly place each person’s plate and glass to make it look as appealing as possible. The right amount of sunlight hits the glass of overpriced iced melon tea and she takes the shot.
More than three different editing apps are used to correct colour, composition and lighting. After 7 and a half minutes of choosing the right filter from the food photography book, it goes on Instagram for 20K followers to see.
The life of an influencer.
In our previous story, we talked on what it takes to be an influencer. The never-ending product reviews and becoming new faces of advertising. The new generation of millennials were set to dominate the world of digital media, leaving behind billboard and television ads. The rise of a rapid new era. But, who started all this?
The word ‘influencer’ only came about recently, but who started this wave of social media socialites? Take a young girl from the nooks of Tawau, Sabah and a big dream of becoming a supermodel. Amber Chia was just 17 when she left her hometown to pursue her passion, leaving behind parents, 4 siblings, school and work that supported her family. Fast forward to the present, this now mother of one, has been in the modelling industry for 20 years.
Hair: Juno ko, Make-up: makeupbynatasya, VIDEOgrapher: moderateklstudio Designers: Jonathan Liang , Ezzati Amiraa , Kittie Yiyi , Innai RED
During KLFW 2018, she graced the catwalk of Jovian Mandagie alongside other OG models like Fadzlun Abas, Aleeza Kasim, Vanessa Tevi, Deborah Henry and Tinie. Crowds cheer as she struts her signature catwalk down the runway as it has been ages since Amber made her debut.
“When I started 20 years ago, I was lost. I didn’t know what to do or where to go, there just weren’t much jobs for me”, said the supermodel when talking about how she first started. Started with a humble beginning, Amber made her way to the surface of Malaysia’s fashion scene when she became the face of international brands. Her name was becoming more known and everyone wanted Amber as their ambassador.
“First and foremost, I want to convey my biggest thank you to all the brands and companies that have been supporting me all this while. After endorsing in so many brands I realized that branding is something like planning. It’s like planning your future so you’ll know what’s best for you.” Amber has endorsed in brands since her teen years and is still getting demands now that she’s going through motherhood. “My branding changes overtime. From when I was 17 as a teenager, then 25 as a young adult and now as a mother, I’ve endorsed in different types of brand for different age groups. I am now more mature, and I know which brand works for me best.”
“Whenever I do something, I always tell myself to do the best that I could. I felt the passion, I love modelling and I really love the fashion scene. I actually never knew I could make it this far and I’m so happy and glad that I did not quit halfway,” said Amber when asked if modelling was her interest since young. She has come a long way in the homegrown fashion industry, from becoming one of the first Asian faces to brace the covers of Guess campaign, to walking for Victoria Beckham at NYFW. Amber Chia is what the millennials call ‘the OG’ supermodel of Malaysia.
As she started her career as a model, Amber knows how much the industry has changed over the years, especially in Malaysia. “Back 20 years ago when I first started things were so much different. A lot has changed, and it is getting more and more competitive between local and international models.” She adds, ”A lot more people now actually want to be a part of the modelling world which is in a way good because it means the industry is doing well.”
When ask on what it takes to survive in the industry, Amber emphasized that professionalism and good behaviour play the biggest role.
“Being professional and always portraying good attitude is the key to surviving the modelling industry, in fact, any industry for that matter, and that will never change.”
When talking about endorsements, brands like Adidas, Nike, Gucci, and MCM have made social media influencers as faces for their campaigns. For the Malaysian market, you’ll come across at least two people on your feed doing either a skincare or clothing review. Tap on the ‘Explore’ button in Instagram and it opens to an interactive world of ‘influencer’ branding themselves to their followers. Amber was one of the first who started the endorsement and branding game. Back when television and billboard ads were the primary source of advertising, she conquered brands like Celcom, L’Oreal Professional, Guess, Sony and Pensonic.
“I know now that when people mention my name ‘Amber Chia’, they’ll think of key words that describes me best which is supermodel, entrepreneur and mother,” said the triple-threat lady.
These traits also need to be seen when becoming a social media influencer now. A simple bad review, comment or video leak could mark the end of one’s online reputation. No PR in the world could resolute the damage done because the ‘beauty’ of the world wide web, is that it stays there forever. With everything that’s going on in Amber’s life, one would wonder how an independent woman like her balances her between work, family and health. “As a supermodel and principal of a modelling academy and a mother, time management is everything. But for me, health is my priority. With good health then only, you could manage your time wisely for everything.” Amber strives on the notion that being and thinking positive is the best way to get things done. “Having a positive mind is important for your inner self. Always try your best to stay happy and do your best in everything. Furthermore, find something that you love to do, your passion. This mindset has helped made me who I am today and maintain my inner and outer beauty.”
Noting her as Malaysia’s original influencer, Amber is an expert who knows what her followers wants to see on social media. “I’m one of those who came from offline to online so when I got the influencer role, I knew I had to understand why people are following me. Most of my followers follow me because they want to know how my lifestyle works which usually revolves around fashion, health and beauty, that includes motherhood and my modelling academy.”
Amber adds, “What you post on social media reflects who you are, which is like branding. You need to know what the followers want to see from you and then do it so you they could get close you. I am so grateful for internet and social media now because it has closed the gap between an entertainer and his fans. I can interact closely with my fans now unlike in the old days where I can only meet them at a few events and occasions. The beauty of being an influencer.” As the model rushes to her next appearance, she shared some details on how to reach her. Her Instagram is @amberchia or you can contact her manager Sher Min at 017-588 6392.