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Tue, Sep 29, 2009
The Straits Times
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Blogshop beauties sell and model their own clothes
by Magdalen Ng

Pretty Tammy Tay may not have the usual celebrity skills - she cannot act, dance or sing - yet the 18-year-old gets stopped on the street by strangers who want a photo with her.

They recognise the doe-eyed girl with the relaxed smile from her popular online clothes blogshop, OhsoFickle, where she doubles as the model.

Clare Chan (left): 1.64m, 47kg Magdalene Chan
(right): 1.69m, 50kg Blogshop: Her Velvet Vase

Tay says modestly of these encounters with fans: 'I'm not a star, I'm just a normal person', but admits she is 'getting used to it'.

The good-looker is one of several blogshop beauties making a name for themselves by modelling the clothes and fashion goods they sell online.

They are young female students or ex-students who choose to model their own clothes because of cost, convenience and passion.

Being recognised by fans is not the only spin-off.

The co-owner of blogshop Agneselle, Ms Sim Pei Ling, 23, says she once got a discount on her food at a kiosk when a customer recognised her.

The downside of being a blogshop model is receiving unkind remarks or, worse, being stalked.

Seventeen-year-old Magdalene Chan, who with her sister Clare, 21, runs a blogshop called Her Velvet Vase on which they model their own designs, has encountered this.

She once had the scary experience of a stranger waiting for her outside the guardhouse of her condominium estate in the north-east.

The teenager, a student at an international school here, says: 'He knew my name and started telling me what a good model I was.'

She adds: 'I was freaked out and ran past him. I think the security guard told him off."

Another blogstore model, equity trader Sarah Lim, who runs acrossthebloodyuniverse with good friend Mery Lordianto, both 24, has been told how 'ugly she looks'.

'I'm only doing this for fun, so I get a little sad when I get attacked personally,' she says.

Parents also express concern about the girls putting up pictures of themselves. The 22-year-old co-owner of blogshop Holly Surprise, Ms Pauline Chen, says: 'My mum was quite apprehensive. She thinks it's not appropriate when I start working.'

Still, the girls acknowledge that using their own faces is a selling point. Ms Tay, for example, could probably afford to hire professional models but the feedback from customers is that they prefer to see her.

Pauline Chen: 1.57m, 43kg
Blogshop: Holly Surprise

Online customer Christabel Png, a 21-year-old student, who buys at least three items from blogshops each month, says: 'Seeing a regular person wearing the clothes makes it more real and makes me believe that I can look good in them, too.'

And the Chan sisters say that modelling their own designs is important to them. 'We best understand the style concepts behind our clothes,' explains Clare, a graduate student at Monash University in Australia.

Their photos are either taken at home or by friends in a studio and may not be the most professional, but like Ms Tay, the sisters say this is exactly what customers want.

When they first modelled their clothes online, they blurred their faces or put on huge sunglasses to retain some form of anonymity. But customers wanted to know who the people were behind the blogshop so they could relate better.

And it seems to be a winning formula, going by Ms Tay's success. What started out as a way to earn some pocket money when she sold clothes that she no longer wore is now a full-time job and involves her travelling to Bangkok, China and Hong Kong to look for factories to manufacture her designs.

On average, she makes about $10,000 a month from her online blogshop and two brick and mortar shops in Far East Plaza and Haji Lane that she opened earlier this year.

Her mother Tracy Chan, who is in her 50s, quit her job as an interior designer to help her manage the shops.

With all these achievements, no wonder Ms Tay says of her online modelling: 'I really enjoy fashion and designing. If people buy my stuff because they prefer to see my face on my blogshop, then why not?'

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