Look beyond appearances
“Find confidence in who you are and wear whatever you want”
“I don’t want to show my body to the ones, who often close their eyes, when it’s time to praise the beauty of my mind and soul” (Nikita Gandhi)
“Mind” and “Soul” are two words that mean a lot to Nic Kaufmann, a young TikTok content creator whose heritage is half-Indian and half-German. We start our conversation talking about his background, and he is well aware of his good fortune. He is honest, not foolhardy, he is focused and goes straight to the point. But most importantly, Nic is Nic, and nobody else. On social media you can create your own identity, which could be totally different from who you truly are. Why? To be accepted. But to Nic, there is another side to social media; the ability to be yourself, look beyond appearances, feel comfortable in your own skin and promote multiculturalism. And that’s the kind of content creator we love and desire.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a content creator, how did it start?
I grew up in Singapore and I finished school there. After that I moved to Munich, because I wanted to study computer science. At first, I didn’t actually know anyone there, I lived outside the city, near the University, and that was not very helpful. So, I downloaded TikTok on my phone and I started watching all the videos on it and I couldn’t stop. Then I thought: “I can do that too”, so I started posting some videos on my account. Some of them went viral and I was being successful, so I thought that I could do that properly. For a year my life was divided between University and creating content for TikTok, but at some point I had to pick one. I used to travel a lot and being a content creator is time-consuming, that’s also why my grades were not good. Then I chose social media. I have to be honest with you, I am happy with the choice I made. The pandemic played into my hands since we were all at home and we couldn’t go out. With time my account started growing and when the lockdown ended I started posting some fashion videos because I was able to go outside. And here I am in the fashion scene.
In your portfolio you have collaborations with BMW, Dior, Dior Beauty, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Ralph Lauren and more. And the fashion world brought you to Cannes three weeks ago…
Yes, I went to Cannes with Dior. And it was actually my first time there. We took the Orient Express from Paris to the coast, and we created such amazing content there. The experience on the train was insanely beautiful. It was such a remarkable adventure.
Among your collaborations there is a specific one with the German e-commerce company About You. Every year this company organizes the “About You Awards” and for 2022 they decided to do it in Milan. You were nominated for the Style category and you won. How does it make you feel?
I have never won a prize before, at least not a physical one, and I have never been on stage. I usually talk in front of a camera, never in front of a crowd. But I think that this award is the result of my hard work.
Can you describe your style?
My style goes in different directions. I don’t have a specific and well-defined style. I love to explore and try different aesthetics. And with my looks, styled by me, I want to show that you can wear what you want.
It seems that you want to break the toxic masculinity with your looks…
I definitely do and want to. The first thing you can read in my Instagram bio is: “Find confidence in who you are and wear whatever you want”. Because this is the message I want to spread on social media. Everyone should be free to wear what they want. Be comfortable in their own skin and feel truly themselves. And you should never hide yourself pretending to be someone else. Every person is special in his own way and you have to be able to recognize it and reflect who you are.
Was it hard for you to speak up for your style?
It wasn’t so hard for me. When I was at school I used to be bullied and I didn’t realize that was because of who I am. I just thought that people were mean to me. I never bend to someone’s will, I have always believed in me. When I was in my room, creating content for TikTok, that was just me being me and no one could tell me anything. So I started sharing this mindset with the people who had the necessity to feel accepted, be part of a group. My lone voice wanted to say that it is okay to be you, and you should embrace it.
I read that you wanted to create two brands: a hair care company and an e-commerce fashion company. How’s it going? Should we expect something new?
On my social media, I talk a lot about hair and fashion. I did several hair tutorials on how to style it. I want to create a hair care company but not specifically for men or women, genderless. Regarding fashion, I would like to create a streetwear e-commerce focused on affordable but ethically sourced clothing. But looking into the distant future, maybe five or eight years, I would like to establish my own brand. I love drawing sketches and when my life as a content creator will slow down a bit, I will have enough time to think about my collection. Also because I am well aware that you need to study to gain expertise. And one of the most important things is that my brand has to be sustainable, not only in terms of fabrics, but also ethically. I am half-Indian so I know precisely what it means to be underpaid and working in bad conditions. It is my responsibility to give employees their proper value and worth.
Would you like to call it by your name?
No, I don’t think so.
Which brands do you admire?
For sure I look at brands that are trying to break the gender gap. For example I loved Valentino’s latest collection, designed by Pierpaolo Piccioli. I do also love the knitwear from Gucci and I am a huge fan of Japanese designers.
Why did you tell your social media followers not to pay you?
Typically, on social media when a follower gives you money, during a livestream, the platform takes a percentage of the profits. And many of my followers are young, so they don’t know that. I don’t think it’s fair. They should spend their money on other things. With social media I am already earning some money, so I don’t need to receive other income from them. I prefer to be paid by brands as a content creator.
You are investing the money you earn with social media in NFTs and Crypto. Do you think this is the future of investments?
Not only that, but they are also a trend at the moment. I love to diversify my investments. In fact an important part of my assets are invested in stocks and ETFs. I would also love to invest in real estate, but at the moment I don’t have the time, since these types of investments require a lot of effort. Anyway I had two small NFTs, but I sold them very quickly. And I was lucky since the NFTs market is now down.
Did you do it by yourself or is there anyone helping you?
I’ll be honest by telling you that I have trust issues, so it’s me doing it all, especially when it comes to money, because I think that in the end everyone has their own agenda. That’s why I spend a lot of time doing research, not only on investments, but also on politics.
One month ago some influencers said that they were quitting TikTok because it’s too hard. But you and others have made it, so what do you think is the secret to success on this platform?
I don’t think there is a secret, but I can tell you that when you think about quitting you shouldn’t. My work life on TikTok is a bit of a rollercoaster. One month you are doing great because there is a trend which fits perfectly, but the next month your views are down because your content is not viral. I think you have to keep moving on, creating new and unique content. Then the right followers will come and you’ll create your own community.
During your speech, when you accepted the About You Awards, you said: “maybe the next award will be for something musical”. What did you mean?
I started working in music and this happened because of social media. There are so many doors opening right now, the only thing I have to do is go through the right door. I’ve already recorded a demo and I am very excited about it.
Interview: Flavio Marcelli
Photos: Thomas Razzano