Jilly Ijoe Opens Kitsu on Locke Street

Jilly Ijoe Opens Kitsu on Locke Street

Jilly is a world-traveler, make-up artist, McMaster University grad, and most recently, a store owner on the trendy Locke St South. While Jilly has grown her online presence accumulating more than 4,500 fans and followers on Instagram, she’s now hoping to connect with local shoppers through her new store: Kitsu. I sat down with Jilly to discuss the changing landscape of shopping and content marketing.

You have lived in Indonesia, Jamaica, Singapore and Hong Kong. What keeps you coming back to Hamilton?

I’ve spent half of my life here and this is where I truly feel like I belong. Canadians are nice, and that is the truth. I felt accepted in this country, and even more so in Hamilton. The support within the Hamilton community is nothing like I’ve ever experienced before, and so for me, Hamilton is home.

You started posting your makeup work and tutorials on social media in 2005. What changes have you seen in the online world and online marketing since then?

I started my blog in 2005 when many people didn’t even know what a blog was! In 2005 everything was a lot different; especially Facebook! I was even part of their first batch users and I was part of the first batch of Pinterest beta users. I didn’t get into Instagram until 2013 and my YouTube channel wasn’t active until last year. So, I’ve been active on social media for a while and am constantly trying to keep up with all the changes.

I think back when I first started out, no one really knew how big social media was going to be. There was no one to teach you about SEO or content creation or even brand influencers. We were just blogging or posting stuff on social media for fun and to share our personal experiences, to create a community. Many bloggers back then supported each other and there were a lot of real conversations between bloggers. Content that was posted was real, in a sense that there was no bias – no one was getting paid to post content. Obviously, now many bloggers-turned-influencers are getting paid for content and there is nothing wrong with it. I just wish that they would be more honest and genuine while promoting.

Online marketing is a different ball game now. Facebook didn’t even offer advertising. Online marketing meant you paid Google for the ad space on the top or side banner. Now, you have so many channels for online marketing – Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Pinterest ads, YouTube ads, content creation, SEO, Google Adwords, micro influencers, etc. The options are endless! If used properly, these channels can really help business owners reach their target audience and meet their goals.

A post shared by Jilly (@kireimakeup) on

What is your advice to content creators?

Be GENUINE. I cannot emphasize this enough. Be yourself, be genuine, and write honest content. Don’t create content for the sole purpose of fame and money. Create for the purpose of creating; everything else will fall in place.

You’ve had a lot of success connecting with your fans and clients online through your blog and social media accounts. With so many stores moving into the digital realm, why did you choose to transition from the online world to a brick and mortar shop?

For what I’m doing – clothes, apparels, accessories – I think the majority of people still want to touch the products and/or try on the clothes. There is so much editing going on in the online world that I think having a brick and mortar shop definitely helps our clients to check out the products physically. On top of that, having a physical storefront helps build and foster relationships with the community. We want to provide not just products but also a personalized service, which can only be achieved through physical storefront. We love that human interaction and nothing beats seeing a smile on our clients’ faces! Don’t get us wrong, the online world is great and it is by far the best way to reach out globally, but a physical storefront provides local social interaction. We are not just another online store behind a computer, we are a team of people who are willing to go above and beyond to provide satisfaction for our customers.

What was your inspiration for opening your boutique?

I was inspired by the retail industry in Asia. There is a lot of culture and high quality items and many Asian stores have a little bit of everything. Back home, in Indonesia, there’s a big movement of supporting small local artisans and up-and-coming designers. Those are values that I wanted to bring into my store. I grew up in 3 different countries & travelled extensively around Asia, so I wanted a little bit of international products in the store to showcase global fashion. On top of that, I also wanted to support our Canadian artisans and designers, and I am committed to curating unique Canadian made goods in the store.

A post shared by Kitsu (@shopkitsu) on

What is your advice to business owners?

Always keep learning, have a positive mind set, stay humble and be nice. Educate yourself, no one is going to teach you 100% of what you should do, so keep learning. Read books, watch webinars, attend workshops etc. Never stop learning.

As my dad always says “stay positive and half of the battle is won”. When you have a positive mind-set, I believe, you are putting out positive energy. Once that positive energy is out there, in return you’ll receive positive feedback. Not just that, but by staying positive you’ll feel better and you can overcome tasks and challenges easier. There will be challenges and stressful situations, it’s up to you choose how you react.

Lastly, stay humble and be nice to everyone. I think that goes without saying. You can’t please everyone, but you can be kind to everyone.

Visit Kitsu at #2-195 Locke St. South in Hamilton.

1 thought on “Jilly Ijoe Opens Kitsu on Locke Street”

  • Hello! My name is Patricia Kousoulas and I am a recent Life Sciences Graduate from McMaster University. I am also, the upcoming Program Coordinator for the Forge at McMaster initiative for the 2017-2018 school year. The Forge@Mac is McMaster University’s on-campus wing, supporting entrepreneurial-minded student on-campus via social events, workshops and a yearly $100,000 pitch competition.

    I have read quite a bit about you and love that you are also a McMaster grad and that you are situated right in the heart of the Hamilton community. I would love to have you be a key note speaker for an event on campus in January and was wondering if you’d be open to meeting to talk more about this opportunity!

    Please let me know if you are open to this idea! I am quite flexible with my meeting times!

    Thank you so much,

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