After last week's photo/video shoot I now have over 1000 great pictures! And if you have been carefully following my Facebook page, event page, and Instagram, I am happy to see how Healthy Hair Asia is slowly blooming. I don't just sell products, I sell a lifestyle.
When I look at other cosmetic company's advertisements and marketing strategies they are not just selling their products (think of Dove,Garnier Frutis, Shea Moisture) they tell a story or promote a lifestyle. Which makes sense, because beyond healthy hair, to be healthy: food, wellness, fitness, environmentally conscious, etc. it is a lifestyle not something that can be neatly packed into a box. Having customers see stories of "real people" and not professional models is an amazing way to sell products because customers can relate, customers see someone like them that appears to have the same challenges and struggles, so by using these products, like Dove, they will have healthy hair, or beautiful skin, or perfect underarms.
When I first moved to Bangkok, I was quite shocked by the skin whitening ads and plethora of beauty clinics all over the city. I understood that Thais (or Asians in general) who have white skin are mostly middle-class or upper-middle class well-to-do Thais with good jobs, celebrities/models, have Chinese heritage, and are represented as the face of Thailand to the world. Whereas, Thais with darker skin were of the lower class, filled low-skilled jobs, or were farmers. The few dark skin Thais that have managed to move to the middle class were not represented in mainstream media or projected the image of success. From what I understood, this had more to do with classism (not racism as some may argue) and how many Asian countries have hierarchical societies where social mobility is a new concept. Of course, beauty and skin colour plays a large role in many Thais life and potential for getting a good job, so cosmetic businesses promise the possibility of white skin or attaining the standard of beauty, are very profitable and a lucrative business to get into. They don't just sell a product, they sell potential of a better life, a better career, a better chance to marry into a "good family," and the possibility of moving up.
Since I'm still new and a small fry in the cosmetic industry I know from personal experience what it feels like to live in a society that deems how I naturally look is not beautiful and how class status (there is still classism in the US, but it's more implicit) plays a huge role on my future, so I choose to market my products by telling a story and projecting a lifestyle (realistic). When I talk with my customers, women and men: Expats from the West to the East and Thais (mostly middle class English speaking), they want products that will give them hair like they see in ads (unrealistic by the way), or to simply have healthy hair (attainable), but the problem is here in Bangkok, healthy hair is not advertised, rather beautiful, long, flowing, and voluminous hair is what people see. What many people don't know is professional hair models wear hair extensions and their pictures are heavily photoshopped! It's much more easier to advertise perfect and "beautiful" hair with a pretty face than it is to take a regular looking person with healthy hair (short, medium length, or long) and tell the world that is what beautiful hair looks like.
When I looked for hair models to represent Healthy Hair Asia I wanted regular and every day women to represent my brand. I wanted women with short, medium length, and long hair. And most importantly, I wanted a diversity of women from different parts of Asia and expats to represent Healthy Hair Asia. Their stories, hair challenges, and natural beauty is what I want Healthy Hair Asia to represent: an inclusive, natural beauty, and honest brand.
Aside from great photos, I created a short 33 second video of Healthy Hair Asia, please check it out below! And remember: Healthy Hair, is Beautiful Hair!
Before I end, I am leading a workshop this week "DIY Avocado & Banana Hair Mask" at Rasyana Retreat next Saturday from 10AM to 12PM
I finally did it! I posted an ad on Facebook looking for hair models, got an overwhelming response of interesting candidates and narrowed it down to 4 models (originally 5 but one didn't show up) to represent Healthy Hair Asia. Now, looking at the models, one would ask, why are their "Western" women? Well, there are many expat women living here in Asia, and as for my other models, they are natives of South East Asia. Despite the differences in heritage many women living in Asia face similar hair challenges from dry hair, hair shedding, hair loss, scalp issues, and many more problems that bind women from all around the world together.
What was it like hiring (and turning down people?) for a job? Well this was my first time, as things for my growing business are moving faster than expected, I wanted the best hair models, so I politely turned down people who didn't have what I was looking for, and was disappointed to not get the people that I really wanted, you win some and you lose some :/
Aside from getting models, I had to learn how to take great pictures, quality videos, and create images that people can relate to and find inspiration from. So, to learn all this, I went to YouTube! At 1AM in the morning I found a great video to learn how to use my fancy camera, canon eos m! After watching several times, I have a whole new respect for people who work professionally or as a hobby with cameras.
To also prepare for the big day, I completely rearranged my room using one white wall as the primary background, emptied my bathroom to for the hair washing tutorials, and staged my vanity mirror as a fun space for hair models to show off their hair (and my products). While making all these arrangements, I thought of Dove and Herbal Essence commercials and how they don't only just sell products, but a message and story to viewers. I want the same thing for Healthy Hair Asia!
Aside from being a director, photographer, stage crew person, and cleaner I had to make fresh hair products for my models (this takes time) and spent my saturday night at Makro market shopping of avocados, bananas, and makrut lime.
Bright and early, I started the morning right before 6AM (yes I blend avocados that early because my neighbours and school band also like to start that early too!), excited for the video and photo shoot that would take nearly 6 hours to shoot. At 10AM, my models came, and we all got to know each other, I went over how the day would go (teaching has given me a lot of different skills!), lunch break, and end our shoot with YouTube hair tutorials. I'm very grateful that my campus has a beautiful garden, so all the pictures could be easily shot.
What I learned throughout the day was as a "director" I must inspire my models and take their advice (many thanks!), as a photographer I need to have a great camera, have an extra battery, and take more time learning about lighting (so important!), as a stage crew woman I need to have more props (ladders) and make sure that the landscape is good enough (quite hard to find quality grass, but we managed), as a stylist, I think I did a great job, each model dressed great and relatable to my customers, and as a saleswoman (the biggest part of my job), I want to learn more, reading and seeing what YouTubers and Instagram people do is not enough, I should take a class!
After 6 fun and sweaty hours indoors and outdoors, I successfully completed my first photo/video shoot. Everyone was happy, they got compensated and free products, and now I have many beautiful images and a story to tell on YouTube and Instagram. I'm quite proud of myself!
Stay tune as now the next stage is editing! Before I didn't have so many pictures, now I have hundreds to edit!