SPECIAL REPORT

The Youth of Today: Andrea Chong

by Zara Zhuang
Photography by Chino Sardea
12 Jul 2019

Ms. Andrea Chong, 27, is the founder of DC Creative and blogger at dreachong.com

These days, more than 300,000 Instagram users follow Ms. Andrea Chong’s every move at @dreachong, but when she first created her online presence as a blogger in 2013, “blogging was never a career option,” she recounts. “Back in my third or fourth year as a blogger, I thought by the time the next year comes, I’ll be irrelevant and then maybe it’s time for me to find another job.”

What's the biggest project coming up for you?
It would be the launch of our new website: We're not going to be dreachong.com anymore, we'll be DCedit.com. It'll be a more objective media platform that's not just centered on me — it's an extension of me but we'll have contributors with different perspectives, especially on fashion and beauty. You can call it a platform, like a community. It's supposed to be a website where girls can feel like, "Oh, I've been in a similar situation," and "Actually, I've gone through these problems before," and I feel this is the platform where they can go for all these articles to read.

How would you describe your role?
I am happy to be known as a digital influencer. That's what I am, and that's what I make my career out of. It's how you use the word "influencer," and hopefully we can change that with this media site. As a company we are trying to take steps to change the way people think about influencers. We did a firm trip last year to Cambodia to build a house, and we went with Operation Hope Foundation. Last year we partnered with NTUC Income Orange Aid, which provides courses, workshops and financial aid to underprivileged secondary and tertiary students, and over four weeks we taught them a bit more about photography and videography.

How would you define success? 
My definition of success has never been follower counts or likes. It's the pressure that I put on myself in terms of going this distance. As a boss, every year my definition of success changes. Two years ago, I thought about having an office and a team, and how that I've established a team, it's more than being an influencer. It's also about how to become a good boss and how to expand the business to grow outside of myself and impart knowledge to my team. These are business problems that are plaguing me right now, because when it comes to staff, they are not just your employees. Every day you're thinking about making them feel valued and making them feel there is a growth path in this company. And for that you have to grow the company, so it's a lot of business devlopment that I have to handle right now — it's more than being an influencer.

When you first started, did you ever imagine you would expand the business in this way?
No, for sure. I didn't even think about being a blogger; blogging was never a career option while I was studying. I did English in NTU, and I wanted to be a teacher. Blogging was just happenstance, and now I'm on my sixth or seventh year. 

What motivates you?
Fame has never attracted me so much, and I don't understand why people chase fame. For me, I chase success, I chase validation when it comes to my work. Even when I was starting, out, the validation that I sought was that my content and my photography was better, and it was pushing boundaries and it was different. It's always about how I can be better, and how my content can be better. 

 

How has growing up in this era shaped the way you approach the concept of what makes a career?
I think people are definitely more open to alternative career options; we are an options generation. Even when I am hiring, a lot of the applicants will tell me, "Can I get back to you?" "Can I think about this?" We are always thinking about where we should go every two years, and I also see merit in that, because you are finding your identity and it takes time. I think, for our generation, time is very precious.

How do you feel the way you approach what you do is different from traditional brand spokespersons?
I think it's the personal connection and the fact that you let people into your life a bit more. People like that, and people follow you for that, and I think that's why influencers, especially all our youtubers, they even have more followers than mediacorp celebrities, because mediacorp celebrities a lot of their content is controlled, waht they can reveal is controlled. people feel like there is a distance. even when it comes to famous youtubers like dcosh or jianhao, they get so much engagement and so many likes, but i think thats becasue they let people into their lives, and you know so much about them, what their current opinion is and thigns like this. even for me, even though my life is pretty public, but my girls are like "you are not public enough, you are not sharing enough" because i am not the kind of person whereby like every meal i am like instagram, what i am eating, who i am seeing, what i am doing, because its very boring its like i am in office every day im reading emails, its really nothing interesting in my life, i know people always think like "oh your life must be so interesting" im like "no", its not. its really 90% replyig emials and 10% being in front of the camera. so ithink, yea its also the attraction is your personal life.

 

36:46  SO WHAT DO YOU STAFF WANT YOU TO SHARE MORE OF

 

like what im doing, more unglam moments, just getting ready, just talk your normal self and dont have to speak in proper english, you can just be super singlish and like leelaalorrr, and because my fiance is malay, sometimes when i speak malay on instastory, people are like omg you speak malay, they love it when i speak malay, so im like "ok, sure"

 

37:29  HAVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE YOUTH WAS AN ADVANTAGE OR DISADVANTAGE IN ANY WAY, TO WHAT YOU DO

 

i think definitely, i think when i was starting out, i started this when i was 20/21, people... it still pisses me off til this day, so this is like one of the first interviews that i, let me ask where my girls are, even when i was starting out, a lot of people discredited what i could do because i was young

 

WAS IT DISCREDITING IN A WAY LIKE, HOW IS BLOGGING A CAREER?

 

not really, it was more like my opinion did not mean anything, OH LIKE WHO ARE YOU TO SAY THAT THIS IS GOOD RIGHT, yea, so then i think thats when i started getting followers and the credentials and then people are like ok, maybe we should listen to her, but i think starting out is always difficult.

 

38:48 MAYBE IT WAS THE HARD WORK AND ALSO THE TIME THAT IT TAKES TO BUILD UP

 

i think at the end of the day, if you put out good work, and your work speaks for itself, i dont think age is a limiting factor

 

39:06  HAVE YOU EVER FACED ANY MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT BEING A YOUTH OR A SOCIAL MEDIA PERSONALITY 

I think so, 100% of reaction of people I meet, "you're not what I thought you'd be," .... idk what they'd think .... I'm just like you! what are you talking about. ... how you talk to them and treat them rally matters, and end of day I'm just like everyone else, I don't treat myself any differently, I'll eat at KPT, I'll wear FBT shorts and Havaianas ... this is who I am, right? I always tell people the glamorous part is just 5% of the job, the other 95% you don't see. ... 

 

41:49  ENG LIT NTU

I droppe doft in my final year. I decided the app cost of work vs sth was too high and I was willing to take that risk. I know ironic, cos education is important and you must support young girls in school, and then here I am dropping out my final year. education in primary and sec so important to help you achieve what you want later in life. and in uni I felt I had learned what I needed, and work was more exciting. I've been working since 14, part time. I think I was born a workaholic. I think work has always been v important to me

 

43:20  WOULD YOU GO BACK TO PICK THINGS UP SOMEDAY

I don't think so. done already! hahahhaa

 

43:42  END GOAL

my def of success and what I want my company to be changes constantly. end goal is we want to be known as THE site for young girls, 22-35, and young women to feel this is a community where they cn interact, voice their opinions and share their stories. if we can achieve that, then that's great, and if they can see us as a credible site for that, that'd be great as well. 

 

45:15  IG ESTHETIC

mmm yes there's a lot of cookie cutter, and sth that is successful they try to replicate. but some accounts 

 

47:14  EVOLUTION OF APPROACH TO IG STYLE AND BLOGGING

I used to be v concerned about how feed looks, so plan 9 grid etc