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Catie Li is Pushing the Boundaries of the Modeling Industry

Catie Li’s ambition can only be described as sky high. She gamely juggled her position as the Head of Marketing and Advertising at The Shade Room with her burgeoning modeling career. “I had early mornings and late nights working both jobs. Days I would model, wake up at 5AM and answer emails, go to set and answer emails in the makeup chair, during breaks, and lunch. Then back on the computer right after my modeling gig,” Catie says. The pandemic prompted her to really consider becoming a full-fledged influencer. “During COVID, I was mainly focused on my marketing/advertising job as the modeling industry was in complete shut down, but still was able to manage both a lot easier as everything was from home, even some shoots! It was then I was able to integrate influencing. With the growth of my social platforms and a gut feeling, I took a leap of faith and quit my marketing/advertising job and became a full-time influencer 4 months ago. I still model, but have shifted it to a secondary focus.” She intends to help others launch their careers as well. “I definitely try to spread my tips and tricks about the industry to those who DM me and upcoming models. I am also working on a content series that focuses on how to become a model.”

Coming of age as a biracial Asian girl who was also plus size, Catie often found her childhood isolating and distinctly devoid of role models, something that she hopes to rectify for the next generation. “It has been a long journey, but knowing that I can help other women and girls by showing representation within the industry helps me get by. Just like everyone else, I have my struggles. As much as the fashion industry claims that they are progressive and inclusive, they still have a lot of work to do.” The persistent anti-Asian bias within the modeling world continues to baffle and frustrate her. “The way the fashion industry claims they are making changes and how their actions don’t match their words blows my mind. Not only is there a lack in POC, but POC who are plus. There are only 4-5 Asian plus models I can think of! When you look at major campaigns with a group of women you always know that there will always be: blonde hair/blue eyes, Asian, African American, one girl with brown hair (mixed, Latina, white with brown hair) and maybe a plus girl. It is crazy how they limit POC/plus women. I think it’s time to shake things up in the fashion industry and demand more. Those fashion people working in the industry with the old school mentality making minimal changes need to make their way out!” 

Catie is doing her part to challenge outdated fashion notions with her new collection. “I am so thrilled about my collection with Amazon, The Drop! It has always been a dream of mine to really design from the ground up and provide pieces for women like me! My whole life I have always struggled to find clothing that I loved in my size. For this particular collection, I wanted to focus on staple pieces that people could keep forever. Classic pieces that don’t go out of style. I am so grateful that Amazon has provided this creative online storefront that allows us creators to create lines that represent our styles that speak to our audiences. Sizes are inclusive and items are made-on-demand and produced only when a customer purchases it. People can shop via the Amazon app or website and should definitely sign up for the email alerts as they give you all the tea on when collections drop and by which creator!” If you’re hunting for a piece with true closet longevity, simply go back to basics. “Great quality basics in neutral colors, alongside a few statement pieces really give longevity to your wardrobe. Unique and high quality pieces make it a staple. For example, the classic Chanel purse never goes out of style and really elevates your look. Your outfit all together could cost you less than $100 dollars, but you add a timeless basic and it’s priceless. For me, I love statement belts and jackets mixed in with a classic purse. From there you can take neutral color tops and bottoms and mix

and match and elevate your look with everyday accessories–gold or silver mini hoops and chain necklace sare my picks!” She wants her audience to actively engage with The Drop through interactive, personal posts. “It is important for me to get input and participation from my followers because this line wouldn’t have happened if it was not for them! Their opinion matters. Also, I think brands lack asking consumers what they actually want. Being a model and being behind the scenes, I have noticed the lack of care in style and fit from brands. They focus more so on the plus size profit rather than providing a good product for the consumer.”

Catie strives to be the representation that she never had. “I hope that I am able to inspire people to really achieve their dreams and not limit themselves because of their nationality, size or age.“ In her spare time, she devotes herself to a myriad of causes, underscoring the importance of giving back. “I was extremely involved in my previous marketing/advertising job’s philanthropic causes which included securing over a million dollars of giveaways to foundations and people in need. Now that I have transitioned to working for myself full time a few months ago, I am working on seeing how I can really make my mark within my community!”

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Catie Li is Pushing the Boundaries of the Modeling Industry. Photo Credit: Roxy Rodriguez.

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