Voices: Here’s how I became a huge name in the world of K-pop – and what I did next

Voices: Here’s how I became a huge name in the world of K-pop – and what I did next

“I’m indestructible, unbreakable.”

I scribbled those lyrics onto a piece of paper, with no idea that this song about my own life experience was about to be an award winning number one record for the biggest selling girl band in Korea at the time. A girl band I had in the forefront of my mind while writing it.

This was me. The girl who had lost herself in the wrong relationship for half of her life, and had returned to her parents aged 34 with no confidence and an uncertain future. A time when I was at an all-time low. But here I was a year-and-a-half later jet setting around the world and writing hit after hit.

How did this happen for me? It began the day I walked away from that relationship.

I joined Facebook for the first time, as my ex didn’t allow it while we were together. I remember receiving a text from him a day later: “Hope you’re enjoying Facebook.”

Joining Facebook felt cathartic; like I was taking control of my life for the first time in a long time.

I reconnected with a friend who I hadn’t seen for years, and we arranged to meet for coffee. It was like no time had passed. I told her openly about what had happened and that I didn’t know where I was going from here. She suggested I read The Secret, a book about the laws of attraction and how a positive mindset can help you manifest your dreams. I had nothing to lose, so I bought the book.

They say the book finds you when you need it most, and now it had found me. I realised I had been living with a negative mindset for so long, mainly because of the way I viewed myself. I had no hopes, dreams or aspirations anymore, whereas before I had always been so driven. I’d been a successful child model, in a girl band, had poems published at 17-years-old, and studied at the London College Of Fashion. Then I lost myself in someone else.

My life was about to change dramatically.

I read The Secret and started to appreciate myself and focus on the things I wanted instead of fixating on the negatives. I’d always loved music and writing songs; it was something I’d done for years as a hobby. Music was always an escape, and a safe outlet for me to write about my feelings.

I decided I wanted to give myself a chance. I used Facebook as a networking tool. I set up a mini writing studio at my parents’ house, attended music networking events, and researched producers and writers who I later contacted on Facebook.

All this eventually led me into the office of John Saunderson, a music publisher.

He thought I had “something”, so he said to leave my songs with him and he would see what he could do. In the meantime, he said, he would introduce me to his pool of writers and producers.

Not even a couple of weeks later, John called me to say he had got one of my songs cut in China. I was over the moon!

He asked if I would like to attend a writing camp in Denmark. I jumped at the chance and before I knew it, I was at Puk studios.

It was a fantastic first evening, meeting writers and producers from all over the world, and we were all raring to go for the following day.

The next day came and we were all seated for 10am briefing. “Good morning, we are from SM entertainment in Korea, and these are the artists we will be working on this week” the A&R said, as they started to play K-pop videos.

I had no idea what K-pop was, and suddenly thought my publisher had sent me to the wrong camp. There was literally nowhere to run as PUK was in the middle of nowhere, so I had no choice but wing it. The first day went better than expected, but I spent all night watching K-pop on my phone, studying the structure of the songs so I was better prepared for the following day.

Needless to say, I realised I had a knack for K-pop and absolutely loved it.

That camp was just the start of my crazy and exciting journey: I have now accumulated over 20 number ones, won music awards, and songs I have written have accrued millions of views on YouTube.

Then covid hit, and the world (and my career) came to a standstill.

I, like the rest of the world, spent a lot of my time in quarantine shopping online, and during that period I realised how hard it was to find fashion that I loved. So I started creating and upcycling my own.

I found this to be really enjoyable, and a way to release artistic tension. I would draw designs and ideas in a book and make notes on my phone. When lockdown measures began to lift, and we were able to socialise and mix more freely, many people would comment on the clothes I had made during my time cooped up at home. The first time it happened, I suddenly had a lightbulb moment: maybe there’s more to this.

This then became Neon Army, a fashion accessories brand specialising in handmade and beaded, vegan fashion accessories, full of positive affirmations.

I launched the brand in June 2022 knowing that I was on the waiting list for a double mastectomy –but after everything I had struggled with up to that point, I wasn’t going to let that hold me back.

I had my mastectomy in November 2022, and was hosting a pop up in John Lewis in Oxford Street four weeks later, much to the surprise of everyone around me.

If I can share something positive in my story, it’s to say that there are no dead ends in life, only crossroads; and no road is the wrong one. Life is full of twists and turns, but it puts you on the path you’re meant to be at that moment in time. Always remember you are so much stronger than you think. Each of us is indestructible, unbreakable.

Claire will be hosting a Neon Army pop-up shop on the ground floor of Fenwicks, Brent Cross, London between 9–14 March