Glossy Innovation

Photo by Miranda McDonald.

Catherine Kung transforms creative passions into an empowering social platform

Story by Graham Pilotte

Photos by Andrew Kung and Miranda McDonald

Fashion, art and inspiration. One new blog features an array of each.

Catherine Kung founded The Southern Gloss as a way to meld her eclectic passions and empower others through creativity. The Louisville resident’s unique way of seeing beauty in the ordinary has helped her launch a career that’s as brilliantly Southern as a sundress and pearls.

To Kung, the power of fashion is present in the everyday. “Perhaps you try wearing a power color to that interview instead of your typical neutral,” she suggests, “and have the confidence to totally nail it. That realization – the small seed that’s planted – can create a habit of exploration and discovery that can filter into every area of your life. Fashion can help us discover a stronger version of ourselves.”

Empowerment and making fashion part of everyday life is completely within Kung’s wheelhouse. Under her direction, The Southern Gloss has quickly become one of the most popular fashion blogs in Louisville, and her Instagram (@thesoutherngloss) has over 34,000 followers.

Kung’s diverse blog posts range from fashion and beauty tips to travel logs and home decor. “I have passions in every area – painting, sculpture, dance and photography. I designed jewelry and even figure skated for years,” Kung says. “All of my whimsical interests have played a part in the love that I’ve found now in the world of style.”

Kung’s creativity was sparked in childhood and never stopped. “At my core, I’ve always been a creative,” Kung says. “I discovered the transformative and downright magical properties of fashion at a very young age. I was always a dreamer; I loved theater and drama and dance.” Her love of storytelling and art eventually led her to fashion. “The world of fashion and beauty gives you the reins,” she says, “and it makes the sky the limit in terms of expression.”

Kung fearlessly models in almost every post she writes, with her signature red hair and red lips almost always featured. However, she wasn’t always as self-assured as she is now. “My confidence comes fully from my followers and readers who have believed in me and helped me believe in myself over the years,” Kung says. “When I got started in this industry, I always felt like I was never enough and like I wasn’t taken seriously. I was aware that I was getting a late start to the game.” Like many women, Kung was concerned that her chance at starting something new had already passed. “Here I was in my mid-thirties and at the starting line of a fashion blog,” she recalls. “I felt so intimidated, looking around at the 20-somethings with flocks of 500,000 followers on their Instagram accounts. What exactly did I think I was doing?”

As it turns out, what she was doing struck a chord with many followers. “It’s not about selling shoes, dresses or the latest trend,” Kung says. “It’s about encouraging fresh and forward thinking in order to avoid a life of complacency. That’s the biggest anti-aging secret there ever will be.” Connecting with thousands of followers has affirmed the truth in her words, and Kung’s bright and engaging photos are artistic proof.

“We’re each our own beautiful person, fearfully and wonderfully made. I had to learn that and learn to respect my passions and gifts,” Kung says openly. “Jockeys put blinders on racehorses for one good reason – to keep their eyes on the finish line. I may not have a finish line in my plans, but the moment that I trained my focus to stay where it belonged and to stop concerning myself with details that don’t matter, that’s when the magic started to happen.”

Now, Kung focuses on encouraging others to reach that same level of self-confidence. Women of all ages, budgets and body types can be inspired by The Southern Gloss. “On my blog, if I do post something that’s a higher price point, I make a point of finding something identical or very similar at a lower price point,” Kung says. “These aren’t even knockoffs, just similar trends. And I do the same in reverse for ladies who prefer to keep their style more luxury.

“Sizing nowadays is so unfair and so biased,” she continues. “I like finding brands that carry petite sizing, since I’m 5’4” and I have to have everything I get tailored. Then, I also love brands that cater to fuller figures and curves.” And, Kung keeps an eye on accessibility: “I focus heavily on simple looks, heavy on the accessories. I love shoes and purses and iconic hair,” she explains. “But fashion isn’t limited to clothing; it’s an overall look and an overall attitude. I do my best to utilize brands that are awesome and inclusive. I really try to push the overall attitude and focus on things that everyone can enjoy.”

Kung encourages her readers to risk trying something new, to think outside the box and find the beauty that inspires them. “No matter how much you push your boundaries, the result will be a much more rich and fulfilling life that will also inspire those around you,” she says. “When you branch out of your comfort zone and wear something new and different, you may – even in the smallest way – discover something about yourself and realize that you’re capable of more than you thought you were.” V

For more information on The Southern Gloss, visit TheSouthernGloss.com or email TheSouthernGloss@yahoo.com.


How to Get Your Own Southern Gloss

1

Bamboo ark bags are such a conversation starter. I get equal compliments from men and women. It tickles me that guys are so interested. These bags make your outfit look perfectly summer instantly.

2

I believe that a red lip is appropriate for all seasons. It’s a year-round staple. Look for formulas that are more lightweight and sheer for the summer.

3

I keep my skincare regimen fairly strict. I get my skin dermaplaned every six weeks. It’s a light exfoliation, so it’s just amazing and painless and it gives your skin this fresh glow. It’s a wonderful, super-affordable procedure with no chemicals. It’s great for people who have a lot of sensitivity and want to keep their skin glowing.


6 Glossy Truths

The first thing I do in the morning: I start each day with a cup of hot water and lemon, then check on the weather.

My go-to wardrobe staple: Hats by the brand “Lack of Color.” The right hat makes every outfit, and it voids a bad hair day.

One thing people don’t realize about blogging: The work that’s required and the passion that’s necessary to survive in such a competitive occupation. The comparison trap is real.

The last thing I’ve Googled: Time schedules for local roller-skating rinks (I just randomly got a pair of skates!) and iconic hotels in Los Angeles to stay at with my husband, Andrew, for our upcoming five-year wedding anniversary.

Something I’ve never done but would like to: I am dying to zipline through the rainforests of Costa Rica.

The best life advice I’ve received: Be brave enough to live a life true to myself and not the life that others expect of me. Also, if the grass is greener on the other side, there’s probably more manure there.