Kristina Elle suffered from severe depression after moving to Austin, Texas, from Singapore in 2010. But then the now 26-year-old YouTuber, who goes by the handle @cybr.grl online, discovered fashion design. She started her Candy Trap label in 2018, specializing in outrageously colorful Japanese fashions, and two years later, she moved to Chandler. That same year, her “Harajuku Forever” design won ACDC Rag’s worldwide clothing design competition. Elle continues to collaborate with the Japan-based clothing site and sells her work at events like Mesa’s Market on Main Pride. Now married with a young son, she spoke with us about the power of color and finding herself at the end of
What is it about rainbows that inspires you?
When I show pictures of my rainbow-filled room, people ask me online, “Doesn’t that give you a headache?” But I feel at home being surrounded by so much color. Rainbows have meant a lot to me, and I’m glad I finally realized it. There’s a lot of symbolism and inspiration behind them. I’m pansexual, so it’s a way to be outward about my sexuality. I’m married to a man, so a lot of people assume I’m straight, but for me, the rainbows help me get in touch with who I am on the inside. Rainbows feel very comforting to me.
I’ve read you’ve struggled with depression, so I assume that the brightness and the colors are also therapeutic in a way.
There is a phrase coined recently called “dopamine dressing.” You dress in bright colors to feel better. It hasn’t been scientifically proven yet, but I get so much happiness and joy from dressing in and being surrounded by rainbows. I still deal with depression, and it’s not something that can be cured, but it helps me deal with the day-to-day in a healthy way.
You’ve posted about struggling to find your identity. Do you mind elaborating on that?
Before I turned 18, my family had moved to Texas from Singapore, where I was born and raised. I didn’t have a healthy way to cope with things. I was in therapy, but it’s hard to get better if you don’t think you have a problem. I had suicidal thoughts, and I thought that acting on them would solve my problems. It was a hopeless time. I think the turning point was when I had my son at 19. It changed me, and it showed me that life was worth living. We’ve sort of grown up together, and he’s my best friend.
How do you balance being a businessperson and a mom?
I love my work, and it’s hard to take a break sometimes. I have to plan my day and set my work hours and break time. It can be really hard, because having a business is like having a whole other child. There’s a lot that goes into it that people aren’t aware of. I’m lucky I have my husband, mom and sisters who help me when I’m busy with things, and I have to thank them for that.