Home > Culture > People > Startup Life: Kayla Lau on her athleisure brand Metanoia and facing her trolls
Startup Life: Kayla Lau on her athleisure brand Metanoia and facing her trolls

Kayla Lau’s collection of gym clothes, athleisure wear and accessories are designed for every woman in battle. Battling with self-esteem, body shaming, fighting online bullying. She hopes women feel empowered, comfortable – and on trend – while wearing her creations. 

As a popular fitness KOL from Hong Kong, the fit and fab young Kayla Lau has a faithful following on multiple social media platforms. With brands sending her products, wardrobe and accessories to flog on her influential account, it was just a matter of time before the young influencer launched her own label. 

She calls her brand Metanoia, which, by definition means “a profound transformation.”  You’d think it is about the body’s conversion, but as she reveals, its intrinsically about the outer and inner transformation she’s attained after facing unwarranted online abuse from the strange and strangers. Trolling her for no plausible reason, she’s had to battle anonymous demons – powered by fake profiles on Instagram. How she found empowerment in self reflection and blocking out the hate. At the same time, she forged ahead with her own business model, and life-goals.  

Name: Kayla Lau
Profession: Entrepreneur
Industry: Athleisure and Womenswear
Company Size: 2+
Startup Since: 2021

Metanoia was launched in 2020 and embraced immediately by the wellness and workout community

What inspired you to create this collection?

I’ve always wanted to create something that is unique and belongs to me. I wanted to create a community and to bring in like-minded people who believe in my three core values 1) Self awareness 2) Self love 3) Self confidence.

That’s a lot of ambition sewn between the seams of an athleisure wardrobe!

Well, it has to do with my past experience with online hatred, troll comments I’ve been subjected to for the past few years. I realise that a lot of women are suffering from online bullying that causes them to lose confidence. It starts to build insecurity about their bodies, their appearance, their self-esteem.

The word empowered has been thrown around a lot when it comes to womenswear.

It has, but mine isn’t PR spiel – this happened to me. The comments I get on my Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/kayla.lau/) or in my DM inspired me to create this line. But I really don’t want to focus on the trolls and give them any more attention. This is about self confidence to forge ahead, not look back.

You don’t want to address online bullying and all the unkind messages trolls sent you?

I can only remove their power over me by removing my attention over them.

Kayla Lau
Dealing with social media trolls is now part and parcel of being a KOL: Kayla Lau knows how to address them; delete and block.

Cool. Let’s talk about the clothes. Tell me about your collection.

The first collection comes with three different designs and three different colours. The Bare Essentials set is in all black, for all the girls who need that one perfect set of black gym gear. You can wear it in your daily life, in and out of the gym.

The Self Love set comes in two shades of pink; light pink and rosy pink. The two shades act as a contrast, contouring to accentuate the body’s natural curves. It’s an eye catching set. I hope my customers wear this set to feel good and confident.

The Self Care set (our best seller) is in baby blue which is my favorite colour. I realized most girls feel insecure about wearing lighter coloured leggings because they think it makes them look “fat or chubby” (which I’ve heard a lot). This set has the most body sculpting effects. It has double deep pockets on both sides, and a high-waisted ‘V’ cut which shows a smaller waist.

The second collection we will launch in the peak of summer, around the middle of May. I have designed a new set using a different fabric which is good for the summer heat, as it’s soft and thinner. You’ll feel naked wearing those leggings! In terms of colors, I used a cool tone and warm tone for different skin toned girls.

I would say these two colors are quite uncommon. Like when you go into the shop, you wouldn’t really pick it up and try it on like others popular colors like black and navy blue.

Also, other new products in the offing are sweatshirts and hoodies, embroidered with quotes. They match with the set, but you can also buy them as separates.

Kayla Lau
The latest Metanoia collection by Kayla Lau
You’ve worn gym gear all your life – what did you NOT want to do – and what did you want to do?

Wearing anything that makes me look good but feels awful was a NO! Workout gear cannot be uncomfortable. Its ridiculous when popular brands do it.

I really wanted to design something that is more relatable to women in terms of design, colors, fabric, i.e. knowing their needs and wants. Wanting to look good and feel good at the same time while embracing their authentic selves.

What has the feedback been so far?

As a small business owner, I love to receive feedback and comments from all my friends and customers. After years of sales experience, what I value the most is honest feedback to help my brand, to improve and achieve more. In fact, I used feedback when working on my second collection.

I have adjusted the measurements as some said it’s a bit too lose on the hip area. Some said the leggings should be slightly longer to cover the ankle. Some suggested to use different fabric. I took it all into consideration.

Did the pandemic inspire you to create your own brand – as many people were working out at home?

I actually wanted to work on this project for a long time but the pandemic gave me time to focus and work on it.

You and your boyfriend [actor and model James Wong] work out a lot together – is there a men’s design in the works in the future?

I do hope that there will be possibilities where I can create a couple collection for all the gym “lovers”.

Kayla Lau
Kayla Lau and James Wong. Photographer Dan Hei

I know its early days, but how have sales been so far?

Since the beginning, my friends have been supportive. Outside leads from social media page and referrals have been great. I’m picking up organic sales from the website.

What is the price range?

For gym wear / workout set, the price range is from $600-$800 a set. All the sweatshirts and hoodies are around $500 per piece.

Last but not lease, where can we buy your collection Metanoia?

You can buy directly from the web site www.metanoiathelabel.com and I’m thrilled that other retails stores like Decathlon and Marketplace, retail sites like Zalora is also carrying my label.

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