Beyonce stylist Ty Hunter innovates selfies for forever and tells us how in this exclusive Vanichi interview. Ty Hunter, fashion director and style entrepreneur, has a revolution on his hands with his Ty-Lite phone case. Well known for his styling work with a notable lady named Beyonce (ahem), Ty is immersed in the world of fashion, styling and social media. His Ty-Lite is a cutting edge mobile picture taking device that sign light onto your selfie. The tech lives inside a hip, practical protective phone-case. Trendsetters are quickly realizing the Ty-lite can help them take amazing selfies at parties, clubs and all things nightlife. We even caught Ty getting Solange Knowles in on the action. Luckily for us, while Ty Hunter innovates selfies for forever, he took a few minutes to talk to Vanichi about his invention and some other projects on the horizon. “MIAMI BEACH, FL – DECEMBER 04: Ty Hunter (L) and Solange Knowles attends The 6th Annual Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Grand Finale Cohosted By Russell Simmons And Rosario Dawson During Art Basel at Nautilus Hotel on December 4, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Bombay)” VM – You are so versatile and creative and have done so many things, how would you define what it is you do? Can it even be defined? TH: I describe myself as a fashion director/stylist and entrepreneur. Just as a painter uses paints and canvas to create an image, I use apparel and accessories to tell a story, set a mood or express emotion. For me it’s all about self-expression, positivity and self-love. This type of creative expression is unique to each person and it changes everyday. VM – Tell me about the Ty Lite. Was the idea something that just hit you in a moment of epiphany, or was it a thought you toyed around with for some time before you made it into a project? TH: My Passion Projects LLC business partners and I had the idea when we were in Miami and trying to find the perfect selfie light for ourselves. Even though there are filters, flash and other smartphone accessories that light up, I wanted a protective case with different light settings and dimming, Since there wasn’t one on the market that meet my needs, we decided to create it. VM – How did you go about the design for the Ty Lite? Where did you get the inspiration for the three different light settings? Why those three? TH: I wanted a protective smartphone case with different light settings and dimming. The three light settings were based on achieving the perfect selfie light wherever you find yourself. Warm is great for Indoor settings; I see a lot of people using this one in the club. Cool is good for the outdoors; when the sun isn’t shining this setting will improve the light. I nicknamed Brilliant the “break the internet” setting because it adjusts for indoor and outdoor and gives everyone a perfect glow in their pics, videos and video chats. VM – There’s usually a period of trial and error when it comes to designing or launching a new product. Did you have any particular struggle with the creation or conception of the Ty Lite? TH: Nothing worth having comes easily and my business partners and I went through a lot of planning and several prototypes before deciding on the model you see today. There are many players in a project of this nature; we played a hands-on role in everything from the branding and manufacturing to e-commerce and distribution strategy. VM – The Ty Lite is becoming so wildly popular these days, with Instagram and Facebook, Snapchat and all the other social media. Did you think of it for a specific target group, or has it become bigger than you expected? TH: The positive feedback has been overwhelming. I am truly grateful for the support. We knew there were smartphone users like me who felt that something was missing from their selfies. We set out to reach them as well as my social media followers and everyone who supports my other projects We never pay people to post about the Ty-Lite so every day when I check my feeds it feels like Christmas seeing all the images and hashags. It’s all love. VM – Could you say there was a specific moment when you realized this was going to be such a hit? Is there an anecdote you could share with us as to when you thought to yourself “This. This is going to be big.” TH: I had a prototype on my phone during NY Fashion Week in September and, everywhere I went, people were going crazy and asking where they could buy it. And that was just the prototype! I knew we were onto something. People consider me the “selfie king” and were interested in the tools and tips I use to achieve the perfect photo. VM –When did you get into design? Did you gradually move into it, was it something you always wanted to do, or did you just seize the opportunity when it showed up? TH: I’ve always had an eye for fashion and even in high school I was the one my friends and cousins would ask to help get their look together for school or parties. I met Miss Tina when I was working at a Houston boutique – I was doing window dressing and displays – and she saw something in me that I hadn’t even fully tapped into yet. The years of working with her and the ladies of Destiny’s Child helped grow my confidence and my exposure and friendships with designers and stylists really honed my own skills. VM – The Ty Lite is available for iPhone 6 and 6S, and you have some other cases coming up… Do you intend to branch out even more in this field? Is a stash of ideas that you are polishing off and just waiting for the right moment to put them out there? TH: Absolutely. Later this spring (April/May), we will offer more smartphone case sizes — we’ll also offer colors! The Ty-Lite is just the first product from Passion Projects LLC and we have big plans for the future. For the latest updates on new products, please visit ty-lite.com or @tyliteofficial. VM – Besides the Ty Lite being such a hit, what else is keeping you busy these days? TH: Right now, I’m focused on the Ty-Lite (the only protective smartphone case on the market with three light settings). I also have a clothing line “With Passion by Ty Hunter (available at servedfreshcollection.com/collections/with-passion-collection-by-ty-hunter) and the Ty Hunter Emoji available free on the app store VM – I can’t let this interview go by without addressing your work with Beyonce. How has that influenced you, or your work, or your perspective on things? TH: My work with Beyonce influences my other projects in so, so many ways, I am inspired and amazed by her talent and work ethic; that makes me want to always work hard and operate at my very best. I also expect the same of the people I work with. More than that, you couldn’t ask for a more genuine, sweet and supportive friend. Beyonce is such a positive force in my life and I hope to have that same impact on the people in mine. VM – Who else could you say has had a great impact on what you do, or how you do things? TH: My family for sure. My grandmother instilled in me a sense of pride and believing in myself. I never had any doubts of my worth or where I belonged because of her love. My mother too; when I decided to leave a good job in Austin, pack up my car and move to Houston to pursue this dream she was so supportive and never judged me or tried to talk me out of my dream. My daughter is my heart and my biggest inspiration everyday; I do what I do with her in mind, always. VM – If someone were into styling, or fashion, what advice would you give them to do well? Is there something you have discovered on your own journey that you could share with us? TH: I would encourage them to learn their craft: study textiles, designers, history. To do this work you need a knowledge of what’s hot now but also what’s come before as fashion is cyclical and there are so many references from the past that we use today. Also, I would also encourage them to be prepared to work hard. It’s not all about red carpets and luxury suites; there are long hours, travel when you sometimes never leave the workroom and literally pinning on garments moments before a show. You need energy, stamina and no ego. Finally, and this is important in any business, believe in yourself and have confidence in your ability. Be your own best example and others will follow. VM – In this quick-paced world we’re living in –fashion changes super-fast, trends come and go– how do you stay true to yourself? Or how do you make it work for your own growth as a person? TH: I stay grounded by drawing upon the lessons I learned as a child to believe in myself and be kind to everyone. In fact, when I started becoming active on social media, I posted positive messages and affirmations, sometimes for myself and sometimes for friends. I wanted to contribute something pleasant and useful online in the face of the negativity I sometimes see. That was how my audience grew. People want positive messages and they want to be around positive energy; it’s how I live and how I work. VM – What’s next for you? What do you see yourself doing from now on? Do you have more projects up your sleeves? Is there any upcoming news we can expect hearing in the near future from you? TH: There is so much more to come and I’m excited to grow! Just know Passion Projects LLC will continue to bring out products that help people see themselves in their best “lite.” I’ll also continue my clothing line “With Passion by Ty Hunter” and the Ty Hunter emoji available free on the app store.