PEOPLE: Where does the name Glamzilla come from?
When I was 15 I had to get ready for school, but we only had one mirror and it was in the toilet. I have five siblings, so while they were getting ready, I would go between each of them and try to finish my makeup. I’d be late and my mom would be like, “Stephanie, stop being so glamzilla!” The name stuck and I have been using it ever since.
What were you doing before deciding to become a full-time designer?
In fact, I went to police academy. I’m Asian, so my mom told me, “You’re going to be a doctor, a nurse, a lawyer or a policeman.” I chose police academy and graduated with honors.
At school, girls would say, “Do you realize this isn’t a fashion class? I was mortified. I should have been in fashion class! Police academy lasted two years and once I started working in the field as a clerk, I wasn’t happy. The happiest part of my day was matching my lipstick to my patterned pants, which were the only fashionable item I was allowed to wear. I would put on MAC lipstick and share it online as my lipstick of the day. I’ve basically been doing this ever since. Even though police academy wasn’t for me, it was still the most amazing learning experience of my life. It made me appreciate humans and understand community.
What made you decide to quit and how did you decide to create content afterwards?
I was working and feeling unhappy, but I was still posting my looks on Instagram. One day I was at work and my boss spilled coffee on the floor and then told me to clean it up. This moment was the last straw. I called my boyfriend crying and told him I was going to quit. He asked me what I was going to do and I told him I was going to be “an Instagrammer”, and I never looked back. It’s officially been seven years.
When I quit my job, my boss laughed at me. She said, “So you’re quitting your job to post online and become a makeup artist?” My family didn’t understand it either at the time. As much as I would love to tell you that I felt supported, but I didn’t. I had it all piled up against me. I was kicked out of my home at 16. I had to live with my boyfriend’s family because my family disowned me. It was a difficult time.
My boyfriend Byron told me not to worry. He said we would focus on me and my dream while he worked $20 an hour. Then, when I did, it would be her turn to follow her dreams. I’m so happy to say that Byron finally quit his job this year, and it’s all about him now that my dream has come true.
Can you describe your first year as a content creator?
When I started, Instagram was very popular. It was the era of the Insta filter and the cut-crease. I wasn’t doing full coverage makeup at the time, so I felt out of place, but I always stuck to what I loved and believed in. The first year was the hardest. I bought makeup instead of paying my rent or groceries because I felt like it fed me more. I knew it was going to do more for me than anything, so I stuck with it. There was never a plan B, there was only Glamzilla. I was determined to make it work.
What was your game plan?
I decided I was going to be everything I didn’t see in the beauty community at the time. Most people would post anything just to make a quick buck. If I was going to post a video, I was going to be honest with the intention of adding value to the community. I wanted to be that person I really needed at that time.
When did you start to see it pay off for you financially?
I did it for free for about five years. For the past 10 years, I’ve posted every day. It was never about money for me. It was about me freaking out about how much I liked a new lipstick because I found peace in it. It’s my real passion. I still freak out over the lipstick to this day.
What did you do to spend money while creating content for those first five years?
My boyfriend Byron worked 12 hour days, six days a week. This is how we paid for our rent, our food and our makeup palettes.
We all need a Byron in our lives.
I know. I’m glad he can finally cool off and find his passion now. He’s my other half. I would be nothing if our paths never crossed at the right time.
What made you switch to TikTok?
My friend from Maybelline said my content was amazing, but it was for TikTok. I tried it and my first video went viral on December 23, 2020. I had been doing one-minute makeup reviews for 10 years, so I felt like the platform was for me. The pandemic made TikTok even more popular, so it was a good time.
Once your first video went viral, did you feel any pressure to keep posting viral videos?
I post organically. The craziest thing is that I posted my first at 1am because that’s when I was creating content. I’m not trying to be strategic. I only really post when I feel like it and I only post things I really like. My videos were getting tons of views because no one was doing a one minute review. It was all about makeup transitions back then, so I was able to come up with something different.
As one of the top beauty makers on the app right now, can you describe an average day for me?
I wake up when my body wants me to wake up, or when the postman rings my doorbell. We have become best friends and he gets a nice Christmas present every year because he has to deliver all my PR packages. Once I’ve sorted out what I’m going to try and what I’m going to add to my donation pile, I jump into it. I sometimes shoot up to 30 videos a day, but only the best of the best make it to TikTok that week. I would say half of my reviews are from PR and the other half are from products I buy. I always actively seek out what is new and interesting. I also write to every DM I receive. If someone takes the time to write to you, it means a lot.
My donation pile will eventually go to the Glamzilla Holiday Beauty Drive that I host every year. I create bags with the best beauty products I have, then my followers come to me to buy me a bag. Then I give this money to the family shelter red door in Toronto.
When I was 16, the Red Door Family Shelter helped me. I was in this shelter with my family and I will never forget it because I remember being so sad. There was a woman there who told me not to worry because one day I would do great things. She was such a beautiful woman and her words stayed with me. Now that I’m in this position in life, I make giving back a priority. Many influencers choose to donate their makeup, which is great, but when it comes to bigger causes, what people really need is food, clothing, and shelter. I wanted to convert all that makeup into money so people could buy formula and things they really needed.
You talked about being a curvy girl in the beauty space and how that can isolate you. Can you talk about what you learned from being so open and vulnerable about it?
It took me forever. It was a difficult journey, but a beautiful one as well. When I started, there was no one who looked like me. There were also no plus-size women on the brand trips I would go on, and I felt so much pressure to be “bikini-body ready” and contour like crazy. On a recent trip I knew I was going to be surrounded by people in bathing suits and nice clothes and realized I had two choices: stay in my room and be sad or take this space that I never had before as I was trying to become a beauty content creator.
Now I feel empowered because I decided to take up space as a curvaceous Asian woman. It’s the next generation of beauty, and I’m part of it now. This is me, and I hope to inspire others to do the same.
With so many celebrities dating brands these days, which brand do you think is really worth the hype right now?
There are two: Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and The rare beauty of Selena Gomez. Both succeed because they align with the celebrity behind. There’s a story for every brand, and they’re also really inclusive. They are definitely leading the new generation of beauty.
Have you had any celebrity encounters that totally blew your mind?
Rihanna. Rihanna knew who I was when she saw me. She said she watched my videos and liked them. It was amazing!
What’s the best advice you can give someone who feels intimidated to become a beauty content creator?
Follow your passion and lead with kindness. Be honest, vulnerable and consistent. Most importantly, take the space you deserve and be yourself. Something I always say is stay fierce and be you unapologetically. I’ve been saying this since day one I started, and it means so much more to me now.