With her edgy blonde crop and piercing gaze, Tinie’s striking demeanor is apparent to all who come into her orbit. The three-time winner of the female Model of the Year title at the Malaysian International Fashion Awards 2006, 2007, and 2009 has chalked up plenty of experience on the runway, modeling for international designers such as Dior, Fendi and Calvin Klein. Tinie’s modeling expertise has also been harnessed as she takes on the role of model mentor for trainees and model hopefuls. We steal her away from her production duties backstage to have a quick chat about what it takes to model in Malaysia and the world stage.
Tell us about the start of your modelling career.
My career started out very slowly. Being from Seremban, I wasn’t very familiar with KL and I didn’t know very much about the modeling industry. My first agency didn’t do much for my career and I even almost gave up modeling as I didn’t see it as a sustainable career for me. That was until I was discovered by Andrews Models. The agency’s founder, Andrew Tan had a lot of faith in me and spent a lot of time developing my career. If you had asked me then, I never would have thought it would lead me to where I am today.
How has the Malaysian fashion landscape evolved since you began your career at 22?
One of the most obvious changes is that we have a lot more international brands. 22 years ago we didn’t have Zara, MNG, H&M … Now we have access to fast fashion as well as more menswear labels. Overall we have a lot more styles to choose from and it’s such a good thing because everyone is very interested in fashion now and this growing interest is very good for the whole fashion industry.
As a pioneer of the industry,what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced or still face today?
A big challenge is learning how to reinvent yourself and stay current. It’s not simply about getting a new haircut or donning a new makeup trend; it’s about being open to to new ideas, fashion directions and what the emerging designers are trying to say with their designs.
The fashion world is known to be cut-throat and competitive. With your experience, what is the best or most rewarding part of being in the industry?
As competitive as it may be, I have to say that I’ve made some formidable friendships within the industry. It’s always a pleasure to get to know new people at work. The worst part is battling homesickness when I am working on contract in another country – especially being away from my kids.
Out of the many accolades you have received, which is the most important to you and why?
The most important reward is being recognized as someone who has contributed to the local fashion industry and even now, I’m taking all my experiences to the backstage as I’m slowly focusing on the production side of an event.
As a model mentor, what would you say are the top 3 traits a person must have in order to survive in the modelling industry?
Be punctual, have a good walk, and stay in shape.
What is the key advice you would give to aspiring models?
Be realistic about yourself and have a reputable agency to give you an honest assessment of how far you can go or what can be improved.
Which three words best describe your personal style.
Sportswear, High street, Comfortable.
How do you get runway ready?
Knowing that you have a great hair and makeup team behind you!
What’s the best backstage beauty secret you’ve learnt?
Foundation goes on smoother and lasts longer if you hydrate your skin with a hydrating face mask first, and never to put more foundation than is necessary.
Where is your ideal, dream travel destination?
Maldives with my family.
Where in the world would you like to go shopping? And why?
I like shopping in London. I like the high street brands, the energy and checking out the designer’s outlet at Bicester Village.