Meet Kim Ing

Kim Ing for Passerbuys by Clemence Poles10.jpg
Kim is a strategic marketer who grew up straddling cultures, which has played a big part in her career. Kim helps brands understand and empathize with audiences across the Greater China market with a keen sensitivity to cultural nuance and creative excellence.
Top, Pleats Please ; Pants, Vintage
Shirt, Acne    ;    Belt: Gucci   ; Ring, Talita London ; Tom Ford no.28 Nicolas

Shirt, Acne ; Belt: Gucci; Ring, Talita London ; Tom Ford no.28 Nicolas


I’m less stringent with my morning routine than I am with my evening one which I see as a ritual that can’t be disturbed. Evenings consist of filling my Aennon humidifier (an essential since moving back to London from Hong Kong) with lavender oil, three drops of that on my pillow, some warm water at my bedside, then unwinding to gong and meditation chimes on my two Devialet Phantoms. The sound reproduction is amazing and recreates all the sub tones within the gong frequencies, meaning I still get to benefit from the meditative effects of the chimes. We spend about half an hour reading our Kindles before switching off the light. Mornings are a little more haphazard as I leap out of bed to scour emails that came overnight from Asian clients and teams. Conference calls are often held in my pajamas in the early hours to maximize the cross over of office hours between London and Hong Kong.

on learning to accept her multicultural identity

I was born in London and attended quite possibly the most English-middle-class school where I was a student amongst a sea of blonde and brunette girls, along with a girl of Indian descent and a girl of African descent. Being the “token Asian” became a point of difference and led to much teenage angst around nicknames like “Chinese Kim”, and “Can I introduce you to my friend? He likes Asians, you see…” People demand to know who I am by asking where I’m from, followed by where am I really from. By the end of my 20s, it dawned on me that my multicultural identity was the best thing that I could possibly have been granted in life. I feel immensely proud of and grateful to my parents.

From the age of 14, I would spend my summers in Hong Kong with my grandma and always took part in some form of work experience—internships at Seibu (a fashion department store that has since closed) and endless afternoons and evenings at the Mandarin or Peninsula with my grandma enjoying an indulgent afternoon tea. It wasn’t until the age of about 19, after a year’s traveling in South America and my first year at The University of Nottingham, that I met people much more well-traveled than me. Since then, trips back to Hong Kong became very different. I began what has become my work and passion—a continuous hopscotch between, across, and in-and-out of cultures.

Trench, Yang Li Men ; T-Shirt, Vintage ; Choker, Vintage YSL ; Pants, Sonia Rykiel
“I applied to Oxford University twice to study politics, philosophy and economics. After two rejections, I was broken. I believed at that moment that my life was over and I wasn’t going to achieve anything. I found myself reluctantly at my second choice, The University of Nottingham, where unbeknownst to me, I was going to have the most life-changing education of my life. I became completely immersed in the education of socializing, building friendships and trust, losing friendships and trust, the value of long evenings spent in conversation, and freedom of character development when you just let your hair down every now and then. University wasn’t the experience I had expected or wanted, but it taught me the most valuable skills and confidence that have allowed me to do what I do today.”
— on her university experience and valuable lessons
“My first role was in the agency side at AMV BBDO. It was the best start in the working world since the culture there was like a family. The mentorship and nurturing that I received really helped me to develop. Working culture has meant so much to me ever since then that a bad working culture has been the reason for me to leave some roles.
— On her first job after college
Kim Ing for Passerbuys by Clemence Poles30.jpg

on her career and dealing with parents’ expectations

Marketing is a blend of business and creativity combined with social anthropology and behavioral psychology. Perhaps you could argue there’s a link with my Economics and Philosophy degree that I eventually got from Nottingham; you could also argue it’s my interest in people and exploring and creating connections between them. I wanted to go to art college and become a painter, but that idea wasn’t going to fly with my parents who wanted me to become a barrister. I suppose you could call marketing a compromise. To this day, my parents struggle to explain what I do, yet they always remember famous brands that I may have worked with like Lane Crawford and ERES, and that I attended London Fashion Week. The best part is that their ability to relate to brands is exactly the essence of what I do. Perhaps that’s a better sign than being able to describe it. 

on her brand strategy in the Asia-Pacific market

Everything starts with research. I work largely with brands who are just developing their retail presence into APAC (Asia-Pacific) but don’t understand the customer. Through a deep dive into their audience and how their product/service resonates with the local community, we then develop a marketing strategy specific to their business objectives and budget.

The communications landscape is confusing as people start to believe that they can build a meaningful brand that will last organically and through social media. They misunderstand that the ones to appear to be doing only this are working doubly as hard in their media investments, paid product sponsorship and endorsement (which is questionable on efficacy), and an aggressive PR campaign. Attracting the attention of a person and potential advocate is a privilege, and brands must earn that to create genuine trust and credibility. I practice what I call “marketing with integrity,” wherein the role of marketing is to protect and represent the customer, what they hear/see/think/feel, and ensuring this is exciting, relevant, future-facing and adds value.

Once we have the strategy, I help brands create the supporting matrix of suppliers and executioners around them—introduce new agencies and creative partners and manage the pitch process. It helps that I speak the language of both agency and client since a misunderstanding of objectives or motivations is often where a creative opportunity can be missed.

Kimono Sweater, PHVLO ; Skirt, Issey miyake ; Ring, Talita London ; Lipstick, Tom Ford no.28 Nicolas

Kimono Sweater, PHVLO ; Skirt, Issey miyake ; Ring, Talita London ; Lipstick, Tom Ford no.28 Nicolas

Kim Ing for Passerbuys by Clemence Poles39.jpg
“Brands, particularly fashion brands, have a requirement to be flexible and nimble with their approach to branded comms, experiential, and partnerships. Moving in-house was fun, as it was like working in a mini-agency. Instead, I am able to bring in creative partners constantly to keep things fresh. Big agencies can’t do that as they are more restricted to the creative talent that sits in-house. Increasingly I found that an archaic way to work.”
— on working in-house versus with big brands
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on her skincare and beauty routine

My mother has always taught me that hydration is everything, and I’m glad (although my bank balance isn’t) that she always encouraged me to use good quality moisturizers. I use Chanel cleansing mousse which seems to be sold out in Hong Kong and London for months, followed by Bioderma to take off excess makeup and pollution. I then use a serum, currently Clarins Hydra-essentiel bi-phase. I used their double serum for a while, but the marketing and astronomical price annoyed me after a while. I find this hydrating one works really well. I then use Sisley Creme Reparatrice which has shea butter in it. It’s intensely moisturizing and great as my skin tends to be dry. I also use Aromatherapy Associates Hydrating Rose Face Mask.

For makeup I use a light tinted moisturizer from Nars and an iridescent base cream shadow stick from Bobby Brown. I also love the Nars ones and hunt for the golden eyeshadows with glitter in them. I then do a quick flick along my upper eyelid. I love Terry’s liquid eyeliner as the nib works just like a felt tip, and sometimes I do a little shimmer of dark eyeshadow along my lower eyelid. I also love Tom Ford lipsticks for their rich intensity of color and matte finish. I wear Le Labo’s Santal 33.

on her love for interiors and design

I have been hugely inspired by the growth of the interiors and design space, a proposition that is growing fast in Hong Kong. I’ve been introduced to publications like Cabana, which I adore. I was amazed when I first discovered Design Anthology, originally published in Hong Kong. They celebrated design and interiors across Asia which brought a modern sensitivity to Asian homes and tropical living outside of the common perception of colonial style living and Western aesthetics in an Asian setting. I’ve also started loving The High Low, a podcast with London journalists Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton. They are witty, intelligent, and discuss literature and current affairs with elegance and accessibility.

Shirt, Acne    ; Trousers: Markus Lupfer,    Belt: Gucci

Shirt, Acne ; Trousers: Markus Lupfer, Belt: Gucci

“When I worked ‘client-side,’ I found myself overly invested in all the issues and problems that needed to be fixed. It was virtually impossible to focus on achieving one thing well, and as a result, it was just hard to feel like I was achieving anything at all. I came to the brink of burning out, which didn’t serve anyone, least of all myself. My advice is to not hold on to feedback (especially negative feedback) too closely. You are always in a constant state of flux, and chances are, if anything negative ever felt unfair, you’ve probably already corrected that part of you in recognizing that.”
— on her biggest lesson while navigating her career
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on her favorite books

I loved reading about Coco Chanel. She was a grafter. She diverted her energy and fought to do what she loved and believed in. She continued when people criticized her, and she was ahead of herself culturally. We enjoy now what she brought to the world much more than she could ever have experienced when she was alive. I also love The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee and Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari.

On british and chinese cultural differences

England is colder. People find shade in social rules that bottle up emotions and dialogue. That said, formality is everything in London and that construct allows people from all walks of life to share and exchange, work together and create. Chinese culture can be a lot more damming. I love celebrating Chinese traditions, Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn festival, and Ching Ming. I find it amusing and heartwarming that Chinese culture is now becoming trendy. Everyone wants to celebrate Chinese New Year now, which certainly wasn’t the case when I was a teenager.

The common misconception is that Chinese people love designer labels and will buy anything designer. It’s such a sweeping statement that demonstrates ignorance for the landscape. For example, in Hong Kong, there is no “high street.” People and families celebrate life milestones with items that should be gifted with the symbolism of “the best” often combined with the symbolism of “new.” These are all symbols of good wishes and love. In a world where there is no high street, the larger fashion houses dominate all marketing and advertising space. The proposition of the new and best is served so richly by designer labels.

on shopping and style

My usual suspects are Net-A-Porter and Matchesfashion. I naturally also browse Lane Crawford a lot, a place where I can often see a more Asian edit on a well-known designer. I try to resist fast fashion and anything that looks nice but failed me in quality. My style is a bit of a European meets Asia, a lot of black, but recently more patterns. I realized this when I was told that I didn’t suit patterns or color, and it made me feel so depressed.

Kimono Sweater, PHVLO ; Skirt, Issey miyake

Kimono Sweater, PHVLO ; Skirt, Issey miyake

Kim Ing for Passerbuys by Clemence Poles40.jpg
Shirt, Preen Line ; Scarf, Lanving ; Coat: Max Mara ; Bag, Givenchy

Shirt, Preen Line ; Scarf, Lanving ; Coat: Max Mara ; Bag, Givenchy

kim's favorite movies

The Little Mermaid by Ron Clements and John Musker (although I can’t believe she left her family and identity for a man, but I did sing all those songs over and over again). The Handmaiden by Park Chan-wook is so well filmed, the costume is everything, and the plot only gets better. My Girl by Howard Zieff is true friendship, young emotional angst, and the reality of death. I used to watch it over and over again and then stop the film when the bees scene happens. Crazy Rich Asians by Jon M. Chu, although the storyline is just another pygmalion, it’s the first Western movie with an all-Asian cast that I have ever seen and it kicks ass! Also, a lot of the cultural references are true, so it’s quite relatable.

kim's favorite places in hong kong

To eat: Chachawan (worth the wait), China Tang (kind of place you would take your mother to), Tokyolima (Japanese peruvian fusion of course), Maxim’s City Hall (for dim sum), Mana (breakfast, lunch, post-workout, everything good vegan snacks), Din tai Fung (dumplings and veggies)

To drink: Upper House Cafe Grey (for aperitif and cocktails and the view), Sevva (the view), China Club (if you can find a member to take you in...the decor and the view!), Potato Head (befriend the bar man and try and wrangle an invitation to the secret music room out at the back)

For yoga: Kita yoga, Yoga BamBam for aerial yoga and Bamboo yoga for aerial yoga on the beach! You have to try it at least once.

kim’s favorite places in london

Best bar and Tapas, Copita Soho, I have been going there for the past 10years. Workshop Coffee, one of London’s first speciality coffee shops to arrive in London. Colombia road flower market early on a Sunday morning, you see a completely different side fo the city.