Kylie Jenner can't get enough of this Dubai influencer's IG filters

Sophie Katirai
Sophie Katirai

Sophie Katirai continues to develop popular social media add-ons embraced by global celebrities

By David Light

Published: Sun 16 Aug 2020, 4:47 PM

Last updated: Wed 19 Aug 2020, 11:30 AM

To rack up half a million Instagram followers is by all accounts no mean feat, but to produce content which appeals to a celebrity who boasts a 190-million strong social media fan base, which is bigger than the populations of most countries, is surely a boon for any influencer looking to make their mark. This is exactly the course Dubai makeup artist and founder of jewellery site Sophie's Closet, Sophie Katirai's life has recently taken as her popular online presence has been bolstered by considerable attention from Kylie Jenner. And not only has the Kardashian clan member got in on the act, models Bella Hadid and Winnie Harlow and pop star Dua Lipa are also fans. So what has the first ladies of IG in a tizz? The UAE entrepreneur has launched a series of augmented reality Instagram filters, which to date have generated over 28 billion impressions. Katirai, who has a bachelor's degree in graphic design, posted the first of her filters back in January. The premiere production was titled Stormi Butterfly, inspired by the launch of the Kylie Cosmetics Stormi Collection. The filter made such an impact Jenner bought the rights.

"It was a dream come true," Katirai told City Times about the purchase. "Her team is absolutely wonderful and such a pleasure to work with."
During #StayHome measures over the past few months, the designer used her time to create 35 further filters. Butterfly Pretty, one of Katirai's newer releases, has become another firm favourite amongst the A-listers. The filter, consisting of three butterflies with mismatched blue and green eyes, is currently trending.

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Happy Birthday @kyliejenner ???????????????????????????????????????? #kyliejenner
A post shared by Sophie Katirai | ???? | Dubai (@sophie) on
"I was inspired by a baby I saw with different coloured eyes," Katirai said of her latest creation. "I found it so beautiful and intriguing I thought it would be interesting for everyone to see how they would look with it. I combined the eyes with the three butterflies to make the look playful and fun."
Is Jenner also interested in adding this one to her business arsenal?
"I can't share any of the projects I am working on, but we just launched Kylie's Birthday filter on @KylieSkin! Make sure you check it out! I also just collaborated with Loren Gray (@loren on Instagram) for her new single, Alone."

Katirai revealed the tremendous success her work has enjoyed has led to the mum of two to declare this particular IG craft her full-time job. Stating she spends around 10 to 12 hours per day on projects, we imagine it would be difficult to fit in anything else! Whilst the results have been impressive, we were interested in how Katirai began this technological journey.

"Facebook's Spark AR software moved out of its closed beta programme last year, which opened the door to all designers and developers to publish their own Spark AR effects on Instagram," she explained. "I dedicated four to eight hours a day in the beginning to learn the software. The process can be easy but what you create using the software depends on your level of AR knowledge, experience, design skills, and creative abilities.
"When I started things were slow because not many knew or used filters other than the ones Instagram was creating.  When celebrities started using my filters I started receiving so many messages in my inbox. From followers thanking me for making them feel beautiful, people forwarding celebrity stories with my filters, brands asking me to collaborate, other celebrities asking me to collaborate; that's when it started to feel very real."
Katirai said the notes of appreciation she receives from anyone who uses her products is the greatest motivation and to expect many more filters over the course of 2020.

If you were to come up with a filter to represent Dubai, how would that look?  
I would create custom colour LUT (look up table) that is bright, warm, and dreamy. I would also add a healthy tan and glow to the skin.
How does living in the UAE help you as a businessperson?
Art, creativity and design is greatly welcomed, supported, and appreciated in the UAE. It is definitely a creative hub for designers and artists in the region. 

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