Local fashion designer Judy Gao is using TikTok to grow her business. Image supplied.
TikTok has exploded in popularity around the globe this year and local designer Judy Gao has grown a huge following of over 685,000 followers on her brand’s TikTok account. While the app first got attention for dance clips and pranks, videos on the app tagged #fashion have been viewed over 33 billion times making it a golden opportunity for brands who can utilise the app well. Unlike Instagram, TikTok feels less polished and is more playful with short videos playing on a loop that users swipe through similar to other social media platforms.
The visual medium is perfect for Judy Gao’s frothy tulle gowns and sleek eveningwear which are instantly visually appealing and the designer also has a great sense of humour which comes through in her clips too. At present TikTok’s organic reach is a lot higher than other social media platforms meaning good content gets seen by a much bigger audience and Judy’s popular clips have been viewed by millions of TikTok users. The designer makes a mix of outfit videos, tutorials and behind the scenes clips alongside other content and the response has seen her busier than ever making beautiful garments for an international array of clients.
We caught up with Judy to find out more about how she’s making TikTok work for her, what her tips are for making TikTok content and where she sees the future of the app?
What made you curious about TikTok and when did you first join?
It was a Gary Vee video talking about the rapid growth of TikTok so of course, I had to check it out. I joined in September last year and quickly became addicted!
Where do you get the ideas for your videos and how important is it for you to engage in TikTok’s trends?
The trends are what I love about TikTok so much more compared to other social media. The algorithm creates communities of like-minded people and interests, and trends are their inside jokes. It’s important for me to participate because instead of just being a brand uploading promo videos to another social platform, it shows that I watch the videos, engage with the community, and understand their humour.
@judygaocoutureThank you @hgura1 🤗 Can’t wait to see your photos! ##fashiondesign ##sewing ##smallbusiness ##nz♬ Freak by Doja Cat. On soundcloud – coen💗
Your following has grown rapidly on TikTok, what has the response been like from your followers and how has that benefitted your business?
I was very fortunate that I started posting on TikTok and gained traction when I did because the impact of COVID was very worrying for my business.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive and I am so grateful for all the support that came with it. People love seeing the process and the person behind what they are purchasing so the behind the scenes videos helped tremendously. Most business has been from the states so I’ll be looking to set up a base there in the near future – which is one of my goals for the year!
How much time do you now spend on TikTok and have you prioritised it over Instagram?
I spend an embarrassingly large chunk of my time on TikTok and scrolling through the fyp becomes “research” lol – probably twice the amount of time over Instagram. I spend 1-2 hours engaging with the audience and filming my project for the day. On content day, I spend 4 hours creating content to post throughout the week. I have definitely prioritised it over Instagram, but both are equally as important to be active on.
Providing it doesn’t get banned, do you think TikTok will become a bigger player in social media advertising and how do you think that could benefit your business and the fashion industry in general?
TikTok will undoubtedly be a huge player in social media advertising and will take over Instagram in the future. The user interface is much more engaging and the algorithm already knows your target audience.
Fashion takes up a large chunk of TikTok content so it already benefits the industry tremendously. Brands have the opportunity to integrate their ads and sponsored content in a creative way to still provide entertainment and value for their audience. There are many innovative ways to showcase your clothing in short video format to capture attention – like outfit transitions.
@judygaocoutureWhich Disney Princess would suit the last dress? ##fashiondesign ##cartooncharacter ##disneyprincess♬ Dirty Harry – Gorillaz
What’s your best tip for making a great TikTok video?
The best tip is to find a niche and purpose for your account. Do you want to entertain or educate? TikTok is not all about self-promotion so it’s important to bring value to your audience. That’s why I started making sewing tutorials as well as outfit videos.
My best tip for making outfit transitions is to edit out of app. I film several takes on my phone camera (use the back camera if you can) and then put the best clips together using InShot. I download a video with the sound I want and import the audio to get the changes on beat.
Who are your favorite people or brands to follow on TikTok?
My favourite fashion Tiktokers are:
@the.navarose – she has a killer wardrobe and transition game
@wisdm8 – the king of men’s fashion
@inmyseams – great fashion tips and hacks
@morganpresleyxo – funny un-fashion videos. She started the ‘how to dress like a Gucci model’ trend which is hilariously accurate.
What are your goals for the future?
My main goal for the future is to expand overseas and TikTok has been a huge stepping stone for that! I’ve also found many aspiring designers that are in the same position as my teenage self 10 years ago. They look up to me for advice so I’d love to share educational videos and content in the future.