Saffron Sharpe’s digital footprint may paint a glamorous picture of her life, but in actuality, she is nothing short of your average Singaporean; on most days, she is bare‐faced and dressed in a tank top and shorts. On others, though, she has a glam team by her side and is outfitted head to toe in the latest pieces from top fashion houses the likes of Celine and Moschino, posing away in front of the camera. For the 26‐year‐old influencer, social media is not just a mind‐numbing escape from reality—it is her career.
From the ripe age of 16, Sharpe has been consistently putting herself out there on the Internet before “content creator” even counted as a valid job. Things took off for her after she joined the now‐defunct The New Paper New Face modelling contest in 2013 and emerged as a finalist, which thrust her into the public eye. From there, she garnered a humble following on Instagram and dabbled in Youtube, sharing a mixture of beauty, fitness and travel content. A decade and more than 1,800 Instagram posts later, she is one of Singapore’s most recognisable faces across Instagram, Tiktok and Youtube, and part of just a handful of influencers who have had the chance to head to Paris and Milan to attend Fashion Week.
Most may chalk her success up to sheer luck, but the social media wunderkind would not be where she is now without an ardent focus and an acute sense of self‐awareness. “I knew early on in my career that fashion was going to be what made me stand out from other content creators who had a similar positioning as myself at the time, so I put in a lot of effort to establish myself in that area,” she says. “Living in London was a turning point because I was exposed to so many different styles and was able to take it all in and translate the creative energy into my fashion content.” Maxing out on likes per post may be the top priority for most influencers, but it was clear to Sharpe that she needed to overlook the algorithm to change her public persona. “The content I put out doesn’t always cater to the masses, but that’s exactly what got me more brand deals,” she shares. As evident from her securing a seat at highly exclusive events—cue Louis Vuitton’s by‐invite‐only spring/summer 2023 trunk show in Singapore—as well as brand dinners with labels such as Self‐Portrait and Acne Studios, that strategy has clearly worked out for her.
But behind the armour of designer clothing and idyllic vacation footage, Sharpe knows all too well that the life of an influencer is not just rainbows and sunshine. “My biggest challenge is finding a sense of stability, as I’m getting older. So I’m very mindful of managing my finances, especially because there’s the pressure of keeping up the facade of a flashy lifestyle,” she shares. “Being an influencer is essentially a popularity contest; it leaves you wondering what you’re falling short on and why brands would rather pick another influencer over you. I had to internalise a lot of rejection over the years.”
With 10 years in content creation, Sharpe has definitely been through it all. After a distressing bout of getting cancelled in 2016 for criticising passers‐by’s outfits on Orchard Road in a Youtube video, and going through a very public break‐up on social media, the influencer has learnt the art of discernment and boundary‐setting. “The Internet used to be a more positive space for people like me to be open and have a voice, but the rise of cancel culture did push me to think twice about what I put out there,” Sharpe says. “I had fewer boundaries when I was younger, and sharing my previous relationship with the world made me realise that I wanted to keep more parts of my life private.”
In the spirit of setting boundaries, this year is the year Sharpe decided to put her foot down and draw the line between her work and sense of self. “My identity used to be tied solely to my job and it would often affect my mental health. Finding that separation between myself and my ‘content creator’ title has been something I’ve worked very hard on this year,” she says. Embracing her spiritual side and returning to therapy have made space for her to ground herself in other areas of her life and engage with her community in “a more substantive way apart from the flashy lifestyle”.
Beyond the focus on her mental health, 2023 has unequivocally been Sharpe’s year. She launched a jewellery collection with home‐grown label Denise Chong Adornments, made it to Milan Fashion Week, and is now the host of her very own podcast, Big Sis—a love letter to and a safe space reserved for her female audience who so often look to Sharpe for life advice.
Besides working on the many hustles that fall within the scope of her job as a content creator, Sharpe has also been toying with the idea of expanding her influence to wider Southeast Asia with Big Sis—with her near‐monthly trips to Bangkok to pick up the Thai language and learn the culture hinting that she has her eye on the Thai market.
And while most content creators fear the risk of slipping into irrelevancy, Sharpe is unperturbed by the prospect. There is a sense of assurance and poise when she talks about where she is headed down the line. “I’m confident with what I’ve built so far and what I have planned for the future—so I’m really happy with where I’m at now with my life and career,” she says.
For now, Sharpe has her eyes set on one goal: making the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. “I have a feeling I can make it happen,” she says with a chuckle. With everything she has achieved so far, there is no doubt she is going to manifest that into reality.
PHOTOGRAPHY: SHAWN PAUL TAN
STYLING: GREGORY WOO
HAIR AND MAKEUP: SHA SHAMSI, USING KMS AND CHANEL BEAUTY
PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT: XIE FENG MAO
STYLING ASSISTANT: YULIA SEE