Style Crush is a weekly series showcasing the movers & shakers of the style world.
Kat Hsu is a multi-talented creative hailing from New York. She’s a style blogger that creates one of a kind pieces on her website, The Flower Thief, while working full time in advertising.
part 1: get to know me
Q: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you “grew up?”
A: I try to shy away from the idea of a person being their profession, but when I was a kid this question definitely always referred to the professional aspect of one’s life. I don’t really remember wanting one specific profession throughout my childhood, but I do distinctly remember wanting to be a writer at one point. I’ve loved reading ever since I was a child and wanted to create my own best-selling YA fiction series. While I still love reading and writing I’m more of a visual artist now.
Q: What do you do now?
A: I currently have a full-time job in advertising. I was previously working as a digital media strategist at an agency but now work on the publishing side at CBSi. Career-wise I’m still figuring out my next steps as I’ve identified other industries of interest and am thinking of going into tech.
On the side I work on creating style content for my Insta blog (@iamtheflowerthief) and design/sell barrettes and jewelry on my site, The Flower Thief. I’m also a printmaker (screen-printing primarily) and do all the usual twenty-something-living in New York stuff: have brunch with friends, go to happy hour sometimes, travel as much as possible, thrift and vintage shop, etc.
Q: What was your first foray into fashion?
A: Hmm...this is a difficult one because we’re so immersed in fashion - consciously or not - our entire lives. I think my first active foray into fashion was joining the ILA (I Love Art) Fashion club (haha) as a high school freshman. Actually, at the time I didn’t even consider myself that interested in fashion but my best friends were joining so I thought why the heck not. I became increasingly invested in fashion over the years since then, and starting my Instagram blog after college really solidified my love for fashion as an art.
part 2: style, style, style
Q: One piece you can’t live without?
A: Accessory-wise, simple gold hoops. Garment-wise, currently my Roxana Salehoun Shirr tankini top. It’s honestly SO good as a swimsuit and just worn as a regular top. Super comfy, goes with everything, and doesn’t feel like you’re wearing too-tight swimwear. Also great to dress up or down (and because it’s easy to wash and OK to sweat in, the perfect piece to wear out dancing!).
Q: Any style icons?
A: Like many others I often look to Instagram as a platform for inspiration and I’m trying to make an active effort to support and find more POC style icons on Instagram. There are so many creative women of color out there and unfortunately Instagram’s algorithm reinforces societal tendencies that make it much more difficult for POC artists to get their work seen. Anyways if you know of any fabulous POC women into art/design/fashion on Instagram, holler at ya girl.
Now to answer the question...the blogger era really took off when I was in high school and I adored Nicole Warne of Gary Pepper Girl. While I still follow her and other “OG” bloggers, it’s become increasingly difficult to relate to them over the years as they now work almost exclusively with ultra high-end brands, meaning most of their wardrobe is unaffordable. I still have soft spots for Rumi Neely (of FashionToast) and Olivia Lopez (of Lust For Life). Of course I don’t actually know any of them IRL but in a way I feel like I’ve grown up with them and seen their styles/career blossom. What I continue to admire about their work now is how they’ve stayed true to their uniquely identifiable aesthetics. When I just glance at a photo on my feed I can immediately say - “oh, that’s Rumi”. It also doesn’t hurt that my favorite guilty pleasure is her line, Are You Am I (and if you haven’t yet discovered the genius of the AYAI name, spell Rumi’s name out loud).
Not that her jetsetter life is particularly relatable either, but I am currently obsessed with Peggy Gou, a ridiculously rad full-time Asian female DJ (they do exist!) with the coolest style. I’ve also been taking a lot of inspiration from vintage stylists/shop owners/designers like styling angel Hailey Schiller (@girl__garden), talented seamstress-designer Yma (@ymas_shop), and vintage goddess Lucia Zolea (@luciazolea). Of course, Instagram is rife with inspiration and two of my other favorite style accounts are @loveshereee (Shereen Mohammad) and @mignonettetakespictures.
Q: Your go to outfit?
A: My go-to outfit is a little white top from AYAI paired with white suit pants! I love a good, crisp all-white look and Are You Am I is my kryptonite. I probably need to stop collecting white bras/crop tops from them but I also reach for them the most! A few of the AYAI tops I rotate through: the Kimba bra, Mizu top, Kimba tank, Alma corset, and I have my eye on the Catli top.
part 3: some sage wisdom
Q: Do you have any moments when you wanted to give up (when it came to being a creative)? What kept you going?
A: Definitely! I feel like I’m in an almost constant internal battle/cycle about what I want to do as an artist and a love/hate relationship with Instagram. It’s hard not to get caught up in the numbers and to fret about engagement...of course, the important thing is to do it because you love it, but it’s also natural to desire viewership and growth. After all, isn’t that the point of publicly sharing work on a social platform?
Obviously money is also a very real concern and not something that is talked about much on Instagram - like how the heck are so many gals able to have all these different OOTDs and support constant content creation? Is everyone just getting free clothing and being paid left and right? The answer is no - at least not for the majority of us, and I do struggle with wondering sometimes what it’s all for.
However, at the end of the day, sharing work as a creative is something I find to be incredibly fulfilling and empowering. It’s enabled me to meet so many wonderful people, given me the opportunity to work with brands I love, and helped me to define my aesthetic and improve my artistic skills. If money was not a concern I would love to work fulltime as a textile printmaker and jewelry designer, and I’m thinking of investing more time to these pursuits and incorporating that into my current digital content.
Q: How do you define success (and also failure)?
A: That is something I’m still working hard to define for myself, so I’ll have to get back to you on that. All I know for now is that success involves a lot of introspection and figuring out a balance of what will really help me to lead a happy life in the long run.
Q: One piece of advice to 16 year old you?
A: To 16-year-old me: Don’t be so naive haha and don’t be afraid to work hard. And patience, grasshopper. Many things take time. Sure, there are people who are lucky and blow up on Instagram or get an incredible job opportunity that catapults their career or has somehow always known what they want to do, but that doesn’t happen for everyone. Also, acknowledge your privilege and say THANK YOU, I LOVE YOU to your mom and hug her more because she is actually the best person ever.
Founder & CEO - The Seoul Search
Lactose intolerant, but loves mac & cheese.