The Moneymaker: Melissa Celestine Koh, 26, a full-time fashion and lifestyle blogger and Instagrammer (www.melissackoh.com and @melissackoh). Melissa recently launched her own fashion label, Run After, at Digital Fashion Week. It’s sold online at Zalora.sg.
HOME IS: A HDB flat in central Singapore where she lives with her parents and three younger siblings.
HER RIDE IS: She relies on public transportation, Uber, and occasionally drives the family car.
WHAT’S IN HER (PRADA) WALLET: “Five credit cards, EZ-Link card, and a gym membership card which I haven’t used much of. (Laughs) I also have currencies from many different countries ’cos I’ve been travelling a lot the past two weeks and haven’t cleared out my wallet. I usually withdraw $200 from the ATM each time, which I hope will last me through the week. But when I’m running low on cash, I’ll swipe my credit cards.”
8 DAYS: Why give up banking for blogging as a full-time job?
MELISSA C. KOH: After graduating from NUS with a business degree, I got a banking job and blogged on the side. Three years ago, I left banking knowing that I could draw a comparable income from blogging. It's more unstable — I have to monitor how many campaigns I secure each month — but it’s a good time to be in this industry. Many brands are moving towards digital media.
Being a social media influencer is quite the numbers game. Yes, clients look at the number of followers I have, ’cos that’s how they measure the impact of their ads. Numbers are important, but I care more about what followers get out of following me.
What are the drawbacks of a seemingly enviable jet-setting lifestyle? Sorting through thousands of photos that I’ve taken. I travelled to New York, Istanbul, Milan, Venice and Paris [for work] all through August and September. There were so many pictures to post. It’s difficult ’cos I have stuff I need to put out, like ads and upcoming projects. I plan it so my followers won’t see too many posts with ads or with my face. (Laughs) But clients come first for sure. I also care a lot about the colours in my pics. I like vibrant things, but I need white fillers in between so my feed doesn't look too colourful. It’s micro-managing, but that’s how I do it. (Laughs)
Here, Melissa shares tips and tricks to ace at online shopping.
1. Make a wish list on the online shop. “So that when e-retailers have a flash sale, I can shop with more focus under a time constraint.”
2. You snooze, you lose. “Some popular items, like a new collection from Australian fashion designer Alice McCall, are usually launched online at a specific date and time. And everybody will be waiting. When the launch starts, don’t even think about what colour or size you want. Just add it to your shopping cart first!”
3. Make use of return policies. “Get an item in a few sizes and styles if you know that they can be returned later, especially if you’re shopping for big occasions. At least you can be certain of finding something that’ll fit. PayPal offers a Refunded Returns policy [which covers up to USD15 ($23) of the return shipping cost when you shop at e-stores with an eligible returns policy].”
4. Sign up for your favourite e-shops’ newsletters. “Shops usually send out mailers to update me about sales and discount codes. I also take note of major sale periods like Black Friday [Nov 27] and the Great Singapore Sale.”
5. First time shopping at a website? Start small. “When [there’s no return policy], I always buy cheap things that I won’t feel bad about [if they get lost or don’t fit]. Don’t get big ticket items when you’re not sure if the seller is reliable. I once bought this dress online which turned out disastrous. It looked so nice in the photo but in real life, the fabric was of cheap quality. I threw it away. It wasn’t expensive, but it was disappointing.”