Becky Li, one of China’s first bloggers, is the next highlight in Jing Daily’s community of individuals who have helped to build China’s booming luxury industry. This section profiles industry leaders who are contributing to the national and global fashion communities through their business practices, from designers and creatives to business executives and influencers.
During the first days of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, all of China was in panic-mode, facing an unknown future. That’s when Becky Li received a photo from a young nurse wearing head-to-toe protective gear, taken just before she entered a medical ward. “I’m fighting COVID-19 on the front line,” her message said, “and I hope this war will end soon!”
Li said she burst into tears when she saw the image. It was just one of the many messages that flooded into her WeChat blog over the next few months, including many cries for help from readers needing medical resources. To her 20 million readers across different online platforms, Li’s blog, Becky’s Fantasy, has long been more than just a voice in fashion and lifestyle.
But it’s never been just a blog to Li. Formerly a journalist at a well-known newspaper who started her first WeChat account in 2014, Li now employs over 100 employees to operate five WeChat accounts, two apparel brands, an e-commerce platform, and a new self-improvement online workshop. Her evolving business model and the brands she chooses to promote (Bally, Saint Laurent, and Qeelin were featured over the last two weeks) serve only one audience: her followers.
Jing Daily recently caught up with Li on a WeChat call to discuss how her work and personal life were affected by the pandemic, her thoughts on livestreaming and anti-consumerist rhetoric, and her latest venture: a paid online workshop.
You are known as a personal shopper to your friends and followers. Who has influenced your taste the most?
My grandma was my earliest influence. She used to be a tailor, and she altered all the skirts and clothes in all of my childhood photos. At school, we had to wear standard school uniforms, and my grandma would change mine into something different. My mom wasn’t working in fashion either, but she and my grandma would insist on having a vase of flowers at home. I think that by osmosis, I become someone like them, who essentially loves life.
You used to be a journalist. What was your motivation for switching careers?
I didn’t think much of it when I jumped in. I didn’t aim to be a top blogger or plan to monetize my content. When you look at the first group of people who started blogging on WeChat, a lot of us had jobs in communications. So, I believe that everyone was just really excited to find another platform for self-expression.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work and personal life?
I used to go on a lot of business trips, but I haven’t gone on many in the first half of this year. During the outbreak, my main account returned to posting daily updates at the end of the Spring Festival despite not having any sponsorship during that time. With the general social atmosphere so down, I lost sleep almost every night and began writing as an escape for myself, but I also hoped that my content brought comfort for my readers.
My team and I officially returned to our office at the end of March [when the national lockdown was lifted]. That’s when I felt like my [personal] life had somehow gone back to normal, but I can’t say the same with my work schedule, especially given the international travel restrictions.
We know that you oversee five WeChat accounts, two brands, and have recently ventured into making videos. Can you describe a day in your life?
I’ve been very, very busy. My day is more or less equally divided into three chunks: writing, meetings, and video shoots (the last one is newly-added post-COVID-19.)
We started dipping our feet in video-making at the end of last year, and since I had more time due to not going on business trips, I was able to make more videos. In addition to these, I also put aside time for management, branding, and content strategy.
Have you made any changes to your content both during and after COVID-19? What’s your vision for content in the future?
Although I carry the tag of a fashion blogger, I feel like I’ve always been writing about lifestyle, and I’ve shared thoughts about the workplace and furniture before. My team had been asking me to try videos for a long time, but I was resistant. But now I believe that when you use a medium that is primarily text, you hit a bottleneck after a while. At that point, a new medium might open new doors for you.
Including me, my video team is only three people. We make one or two videos a week, and the results have been excellent, although there’s a lot of room for improvement in terms of content and post-production. Video is no longer a buzzword, but I believe that with the right content and topics, you can still find your place in this competitive space.
What are your thoughts on livestream commerce?
Livestreaming is a very important opportunity, and I’ve been hit with many requests asking me to do it. I haven’t tried it, though, because I don’t have the time or energy. After starting to work with video, I feel as if I’ve returned to the most exhausting time of my life when I first started my account. I don’t think I can do livestreaming well with my current capacity for writing and video.
I’m not against the medium, especially as someone who has worked in media. People are good at different things, and you don’t have to chase every trend. So I might try it at some point, but I don’t see myself giving up writing to become a livestream host.
There has been a growing amount of anti-consumerist content online in blogging and vlogging forms. Why do you think it has appeared and does it affect you?
I haven’t come across comments like that lately. In fact, this kind of voice has been around me since day one. If it’s grown louder, it could be because of the wavering economy or the rise of livestream e-commerce.
I haven’t got this feedback from the readers because they know that I’m not someone who would simply ask them to make purchases. My readers are independent thinkers who don’t follow the herd. They follow my recommendations because they think our lifestyles or tastes align. So I do the homework for them, and they can spend less time on decision-making.
Do you have any exciting news or projects to share with us?
We are going to launch a paid workshop on female self-improvement that includes topics such as beauty, personal finance, and time management. That is our first step into the paid content arena and is a new experiment in building a female lifestyle platform.
We’ve looked at a lot of paid online workshops, and a lot of them are taught in a very traditional manner, which lacks creativity and interactivity. Students may find those hard to absorb. We hope to break the stereotype of old-fashioned paid workshops and make something that’s interesting and high-quality.