Living Life Out Loud with Athisha Khan

When Athisha Khan filmed her first YouTube vlog, she never imagined her channel would achieve the success it has, nor that she would one day become one of Malaysia’s most recognisable social media influencers. Her plate at 23 is full — beyond creating video content, she has a highly successful Instagram account and even runs her own lifestyle brand, AK by Athisha Khan, all while being a full-time student.

“But even though what you see on social media might seem all perfect,” she tells us, “Nobody’s going to post their bad experiences as much as the good ones.” Athisha is no stranger to these low points herself. In 2020, for instance, she had to get used to “finishing my final year in a way I never expected”, when she returned home from the UK to complete her university education online at the start of Malaysia’s Covid-19 Movement Control Order.  

We caught up with Athisha to find out more about how she’s navigated the ups and downs of life — from the pressures of fame to juggling her many roles and staying true to herself through it all.

Athisha Khan and her cat, Lovey. Image c/o Athisha Khan.

How did you get started and how have things been going?

The year I began vlogging was when I had a lot going on — my sister was getting married, there were celebrations leading up to her wedding, and I was graduating college and flying off to the UK. So I thought that was the perfect time for me to start. I was doing it for myself and I didn't expect anything more than a small following to grow, especially since YouTube wasn't a big thing in Malaysia back then.

So far, I’m happy that I’ve been able to stay true to myself! I edit all my videos on my own, so I can keep them the way I've always kept them from the very start. Vlogging has allowed me to be a less self-conscious person too, though it might not seem like I am so, and also freer to express myself.

Athisha and her siblings during her older sister's, Noor Nabila's, wedding in 2017. Image c/o Athisha Khan.

"I’m really fortunate to have a positive and accepting community, which has made it easy for me to be myself. My whole family is either in the same industry or in the spotlight too ... That has been quite difficult, especially when it impacts our relationship."

How do you balance staying true to yourself with making YouTube a viable career?

I was just talking about this to my sister! It’s so crazy that growing my YouTube channel is how I’m making money now, and it’s something I’m grateful for. But I would be lying if I said you can’t get easily carried away. Brands you don’t know anything about approach you with an amount they are ready to pay, and you’ll start to think if you should consider it.

I've always been strict about the brands I want to work with. I make sure I like their products and support what they believe in. It’s not the easiest thing because it can mean doing more work to get the same pay.

Athisha and her parents having a day out. Image c/o Athisha Khan.

Athisha with some of her siblings: Ammera Khan, Neelofa, and Mohamed Faliq. Image c/o Athisha Khan.

Speaking of work, you wear wear many hats, from student to content creator and even business owner. Is it hard juggling everything?

It’s tough because I’m not the best at time management, but I like planning out my week so I don't have an overwhelming amount of work every single day. Although it was kind of a mess previously, I’ve had a bit more structure since doing online school. I always make university work a night-time thing and once I’m done with that, I can watch movies and whatever. In the daytime, I film and edit. I also do other work stuff, like for my brand or my mum’s.

"I think you are the only one who really knows what it takes to make you feel better — it could be something small — but most people probably neglect it."

Being a public figure can be challenging. How do you cope with the downsides of fame?

I’m really fortunate to have a positive and accepting community, which has made it easy for me to be myself. My whole family is either in the same industry or in the spotlight too, so while I haven't had a specific instance where everyone's against me, there are moments where people are not necessarily with my family. Even though their actions are on them, it affects me as well — it’s almost like we come in one package. That has been quite difficult, especially when it impacts our relationship. The best way we’ve coped so far is by trying to have each other's backs as much as possible.

Athisha unwinding in bed with her cat. Featured here is our Warm Sand sheets in bamboo sateen. Images c/o Athisha Khan.

When it comes to wellbeing, is there something you feel people often forget?

I think you are the only one who really knows what it takes to make you feel better — it could be something small — but most people probably neglect it.

For example, I like being on my own at times. It took me a while to realise this because I’ve always loved hanging out with my friends and come from a huge family. But when I went to study in the UK, it became much harder for me to make friends because I was clear about the kinds of people I wanted to be around with. I ended up being on my own a lot and I loved it. I kept thinking, oh my god, I'm turning into my dad!

Yet when I have a day off, I may spend it with my family or friends, even though what I really want to do is be on my own. Because of that, the need to have my own time is still not fulfilled. That can become exhausting.

Last question, what’s your favourite self-care ritual?

I love my night-time skincare routine. I enjoy doing it while watching Netflix, and it's my favourite bit of taking care of myself because I keep it really simple. I think one thing a lot of people tend to forget is body care, so remember to moisturise your body too!


All images courtesy of Athisha Khan. Follow her journey on Instagram.


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