From content creation to motherhood – Here’s our interview with Karen Yeung

Starting out with a beauty and fashion focus, Yeung's videos have evolved along with her life.

From content creation to motherhood – Here’s our interview with Karen Yeung
Karen Yeung for Tom Ford

Karen Yeung is a veteran amongst the YouTube crowd, having started filming for the platform during her gap year in university almost 10 years ago.

Starting out with a beauty and fashion focus, her videos have evolved along with her life. Then a college student living in the US, she is now a wife, mother of one and building a life in Hong Kong.

But she’s no stranger to Hong Kong at all. She was born in this city and reminisces about snacking on Hong Kong street food and getting that dai pai dong fix.

While this city has been experiencing a dramatic decrease in population, with at least 113,000 people leaving between mid-2021 to mid-2022, Yeung made the unpopular decision to come back to Hong Kong for the sake of her family.

TMS delves into the reasoning behind this decision, Yeung’s experience with motherhood and her relationship with her audience and work amid these big life changes.

Karen Yeung for Gucci Beauty

Q: Could you briefly introduce yourself and how you started with content creation?

A: My name is Karen Yeung, and I’m a content creator focused on beauty, skincare and motherhood. I started creating content during a gap year in college and haven’t looked back since.

Q: How has motherhood influenced your content and the way you view content creation?

A: Motherhood has made me more mindful about perspectives and personal agency. Whenever I feature my daughter Dove in my photos or videos, I try to put myself into Dove’s perspective and envision if she would be proud to see that when she’s older.

Motherhood has honestly made me more private as well. I know that my main job is to share my life experiences, but now I’m wanting to tuck away precious moments with my family for only our own enjoyment.

Q: Does motherhood affect your relationship with your younger audience? Does motherhood increase your sense of responsibility to your audience?  

A: Motherhood has solidified my position as “older sister” to my younger audience. I’m so grateful and happy that I can share my life experiences and have someone else halfway around the globe empathize with, relate to or be inspired by my story.

My sense of responsibility to my audience has definitely increased with motherhood. I want to be more intentional, more emotional, more artistic with what I create. There’s a greater sense of purpose.  

Q: Have your priorities changed after becoming a mother, and how do you aim for work-life balance?

A: Yes, absolutely. My priority is now my daughter and her happy, safe development. When I was younger, my priorities might’ve been more materialistic or social orientated. But now, I don’t need to work hard for another expensive handbag (although they are nice!) or go out to every single party – but what I do need to do is spend time with my daughter.

For work-life balance, I’m blessed to be able to set my own schedule. There are times when I have multiple deadlines, and I won’t be able to see Dove as much as I would’ve liked – but I always make it up to her as soon as I’m able, and we spend days together deepening our relationship and love. I’m so grateful.

Q: What is it like working with your significant other?

A: We’re such a great team now, but it took a lot of work to get to where we are today. The biggest hurdles were learning how to be a professional team together and how to keep things professional once we’re working together.

Leo used to be a web developer at LinkedIn early in our relationship, and photography back then was just a hobby. After I became a full-time content creator, Leo had to learn photography and videography to a higher standard, so he took private lessons and online courses. It took a year or so, and there were many shoots that we had to redo, but I can confidently say Leo is a professional. He also shoots with other influencers and models today to keep learning new techniques.

The learning curve was one aspect we had to master, but another was creating a healthy boundary around our relationship from work. We’ve agreed that once we step into the studio, we’re now colleagues. We don’t display any affection while working together. We have clear processes with checklists about our production process. We’ve dialed everything in to where we don’t have to think about executing – we get to devote our energy to being creative instead!

Q: What motivated your relocation from California to Hong Kong?

A: Safety, family support and cultural enrichment.

We left California when anti-Asian hate was just beginning, and it has sustained since then. We had two close encounters with gun violence, one with Dove in the car, and we just didn’t want to subject our small family to that.

I also have so much family in Hong Kong to support Dove’s upbringing. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and I’m just so happy Dovey gets to be surrounded by many of those who love her.

I believe it’s important for Dove to connect with Hong Kong culture and learn Cantonese. I want her to have a favorite street food item she craves. I want her to know what a dai pai dong is. I’m proud to be a Hong Konger, and it’s important for me that Dove knows what we’re about.

Q: What’s been the best thing about living in Hong Kong that you can’t experience in California and vice versa?

A: The best thing about living in Hong Kong which you can’t experience in California is the ability to get a lot of things done in a single day. Hong Kong is so convenient – from the MTR to using Octopus – there’s a lot of time-saving aspects of life that make being productive easier in Hong Kong.

The best thing about California is In-N-Out. :)

Q: Having experience in both places, do you prefer raising your family in the US or in HK?

A: Right now, I prefer to raise my family in Hong Kong. The US will always be home, and I want to go back eventually. But Hong Kong is just so much safer, more convenient and overall a more enriching environment for us at present.

Q: What advice would you give someone making a similar move from the US to HK?

A: 1: Get your visas before you arrive in HK since it could take a while. 2: Embrace the uncertainty.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you wish you had been given when you first started content creation?

A: The “haters” might be vocal, but they are always a very small minority of your audience. And they are still “fans.”

I used to get worked up whenever someone left a negative comment. My entire day would be ruined. Until I realized I have at least 10 people willing to support me and show me love for every person that tries to bring me down.

The haters are still fans, also. They feel the need to pay attention to every flaw, spending their days focused on others. I understand any outward negativity is likely due to internal projection. And at the end of the day, a negative comment is still a comment that helps with engagement. So haters are really just confused, insecure fans. They don’t bother me anymore.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome, and how did you overcome it?

A: My gap year in college was because I wasn’t doing well academically, and it affected my self-esteem. I felt like I was useless and needed an outlet to regain some of my agency back. I devoted myself to content creation during that gap year as a way to fill that insecurity about my own worth. And I’m so glad I did! I learned a lot about myself and still have this career. I’m so grateful.

Karen Yeung for Maison Margiela

Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting content creation?

A: Popularity comes and goes. Your audience doesn’t stay because you’re on the latest trend. They stay because you’re real. Today’s viewer knows when someone is being fake or only doing something for money. The biggest lesson is to be yourself.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: Maybe baby #2. :) I’m honestly in a space in my life where I’m content doing more of the same.