By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
As an engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Emily Tse juggled demanding classes and homework. So when she had spare time, she turned to a hobby in order to release stress. She started experimenting with makeup.
Tse quickly became interested in learning about the business side of the beauty industry and started networking within the field. Through a mutual friend, Emily met Christina Ku, who has a background in investment banking and also shared a passion for beauty and fashion. Ku had a vision to create a social media website focusing on beauty, but she needed help developing the technology for the concept.
In October 2009, utilizing both of their respective backgrounds, the two launched myshimmer.com — a social networking site that provides a community for those interested in beauty tips, tutorials, as well as special events and interviews with leading figures in the industry.
“As a girl who loves makeup [and has] a background in technology, I have the skills and the interest to help out,” said Tse. “It’s interesting how everything fell together naturally because our work is as equally about the technology as it is about beauty — and it’s mainly girls that contribute and maintain our community.”
“There’s a great revolution going on now,” said Ku. Quoting a recent media study from pingdom.com, Ku cited that 84 percent of the most popular social networking websites have more female users than males.
“This is something women want to do,” continued Ku. “So why not use the tools available to share information? [Myshimmer.com] is a platform that will empower women with the confidence to be beautiful through the use of technology.”
Myshimmer.com has steadily become popular among the online beauty community, garnering about 10,000 visitors monthly with the average demographic falling among females in the 20–30 age range.
“[The website] is all about the community for the community,” said Tse. “With magazines and other beauty websites, it’s all about the editorial content or pleasing the advertisers. But myshimmer.com is more about letting each person have a voice.”
Members communicate over the “shimmer network,” where each member has her own profile. Members can interact with other members through online forums, private messages, and leaving comments on each other’s video tutorials and photos.
“We want a grassroots reputation,” said Ku. “We want people to talk among friends about our members and what they can offer. For some people, we understand that beauty is an art— it’s a form of expression. So we’re focused on listening to our members and using the Internet to promote them and their dreams.”
The website also offers a variety of user-created content such as reviews of upcoming or undiscovered brands, beauty products, and procedures for both domestic and foreign trends.
“Our website celebrates diversity from international products to our community members,” said Ku. “A product might be written in a foreign language that a member cannot understand but another member can.
Members can then share hot new trends with other members … it’s knowledge everyone can use.”
But myshimmer.com is not only limited to exterior beauty. Inner beauty has an equal focus on the website with many articles promoting emotional discovery, intelligence and awareness, and finding self-confidence.
With topics written from the perspectives of different ethnicities, their online content for inner beauty empowers girls without regard to race.
“Because our website showcases so many different faces and ethnicities, we provide our members with some kind of view to identify with,” said Tse. “[Our website] is ‘trans-ethnicities’ and it changes how girls see themselves. We’ve been able to help members discover the beauty and confidence they never knew they had.” ♦
For more information, visit www.myshimmer.com.
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.