Cover Chriselle Lim wears Chanel in this exclusive feature with Tatler Malaysia

The Korean-American influencer is creating a supportive online community and building a business empire by opening up about difficult topics with her followers like never before

It has been six years since Chriselle Lim last visited Kuala Lumpur. To say much has changed about both the city and the person would be an understatement. When we last met her, the LA-based fashion and beauty influencer was in her early thirties and expecting her first daughter, Chloe. It was the beginning of her journey in reclaiming the self and drawing boundaries between her private and public life.

Now 37, divorced and a mother of two, Lim has come out on the other side of the pandemic more confident than she’s ever been. 

There is a certain irony that her six million followers on Instagram and TikTok have gotten to know her much better since she began sharing less on social media. That is not to say Lim has gone dark. Far from it, Lim is still active on social media. But without the pressure of constant updates, there has been a noticeable shift of tone in her content. 

See also: Fashion and Lifestyle Influencer Chriselle Lim on Parenting in the Spotlight

She is still one of the most prominent influencers in the fashion and beauty industry, curating beautiful content and covering the most exclusive fashion shows around the world as she has done since her early days as a blogger under The Chriselle Factor.

But for the first time, we are getting a glimpse of the woman behind the ‘exotic travels and fancy wardrobe’ and she is playful, carefree and not afraid to make fun of herself.

Sitting down with Tatler for an in-person interview at The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur, Lim reflects on how much she has changed in the last decade.

Related: What is Chriselle Lim's Secret to Achieving Great Skin?

How do you think your style has developed in different stages of your life?

When I first started, I was a broke college student. I couldn't afford most of the designer luxury items. I naturally wanted to put together looks that were a little glam and over the top. I wasn't very confident back then; I wanted to show that I belonged. 

Now that I'm in my late 30s, I'm a lot more comfortable with myself. This shoot was a great reflection of my personal style—casual chic! I love elevating a classic, simple outfit with statement jewellery pieces, like chunky rings and stacked necklaces, or a pair of sunglasses. 

Are there any looks that you regret? 

Sometimes I'd rather not remember the first decade of my career. I would really dress things up. More was more back then—and we always needed sparkle (laughs)! I wish some of my fashion week outfits never existed but it's fun to look back on and nice to see how much I've grown. 

After decades in the spotlight, do you find it difficult to draw the line between your public and personal life?

It took me a while for me to get here. I know that a lot of my followers have been following me for well over a decade. They grew up seeing every part of my life from the moment I wake up. It didn’t help that there were a few people sending some nasty messages. Maybe they felt like I owed it to them. 

It was an eye-opening experience, learning that I was able to keep things to myself. It was difficult in the beginning but unplugging has been really good for my mental health. When I take family trips, I barely even pull out my phone anymore. 

See also: Chanel, Cartier, and More: The Best Jewellery to Shop in Fall 2022

Over the pandemic, you went viral as Rich Mom on TikTok. How has it been connecting with a whole new generation of followers on this platform? 

A lot of us were stuck at home during lockdown and I had a lot of fun with Rich Mom, even if she isn’t real! TikTok has allowed me to share a side of me that a lot of people wouldn't expect. It resonates with my new and old followers and I’ve been able to connect with them in a different way. For a while, I felt like there was nothing left for me to give; that's why I stopped my YouTube videos. 

During the pandemic, I went through my divorce and adjusting to becoming a single mother. It was one of the hardest times in my life and after all that I’ve been through, I've come out on the other side with a completely different outlook on life with wisdom to share. 

See also: Asia's Most Stylish: 9 Malaysians Who Set Their Own Fashion Rules

“For a while, I felt like there was nothing left for me to give. After all that I’ve been through, I’ve come out on the other side with a completely different outlook on life with wisdom to share.”
Chriselle Lim

Embracing your vulnerability is the reason behind the success of Phlur, the fragrance company you acquired and relaunched with business partner, Ben Bennett. Tell us more about that transition into entrepreneurship. 

When Ben approached me about this partnership, I was familiar with the brand but wouldn't say that I was a fragrance girl. But Phlur was going into its second chapter, and so was I. It aligned perfectly. What I love most is storytelling and I got excited at the prospect of working with the best perfumers, like Jérôme Epinette, to tell my story and bring positivity. 

My first fragrance, Missing Person, was very much inspired by what I missed most, not necessarily being married or the person, but the feeling of warmth. It was difficult waking up in an empty bed, so I wanted to bottle that feeling of being close to someone. That's why the top note is skin musk. 

People started sharing online the missing person in their lives; ex-boyfriends, former friends, loved ones that have passed. It became like therapy for us. 

Related: 3 New Fragrances That Will Make You Think of Flowers

And Phlur is finally going international—it will be available in-store and online at Selfridges London, one of the most iconic high-end department stores in the world. 

Yes, I'm so excited about this launch. All of Phlur's fragrances, including our latest, Somebody Wood, will be available. Somebody Wood is a fall-woody scent with more traditionally masculine notes such as bergamot, amber, and cedarwood. It is the perfect unisex scent.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About No1 de Chanel, Chanel's Sustainable Beauty Line 

You also founded Bümo in 2019 to provide solutions for working parents, including a co-working space with licensed childcare in Los Angeles. Tell us why you decided to venture into the world of education and childcare. 

All my projects are inspired by my own struggles. It’s hard for parents—women, in particular—to get back to work without support and affordable childcare. As a working single mom, I felt like I was missing so many moments in my children’s lives, especially after working from home during the pandemic.

Bümo integrates work and parenthood into the same space. Parents can continue to work and still see their children throughout the day; there are opportunities to be a present parent. It is a win-win situation for parent and child.

Do you have any advice for those looking to walk the same path as you?

When I was starting out as an influencer, I understood the importance of finding my voice and figuring out what made me unique. Back in the day, no one was really doing what I was doing. I was one of the first to cover fashion shows immediately. I had my editor right there with me, editing on the spot to get everything out. The space is a lot more saturated now. There's a lot of the same content, so it's more important than ever to stand out. 

It's just as important in business. I have great partners for all my businesses. They run the day-to-day and I focus on the creative aspect, which is what I'm truly good at. I know my strengths. It allows me to work on things I can actually move the needle on. 

NOW READ

Asia's Most Stylish 2022: Datin Sri Linda Chen on the Business of Fashion

Marion Caunter Launches First Beauty Brand

Prevention is Better Than Cure: Dr Dennis Gross on Dealing With Hyperpigmentation

  • PhotographyChee Wei
  • StylingColin Sim
  • OutfitChanel
  • AccessoriesChanel
  • HairKeith Ong
  • Make-UpSharman Yee/Plika Make-up
  • LocationThe Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur
© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.