We had the pleasure of chatting with KNOWSTATE, the latest duo on Hong Kong’s creative scene. In an increasingly digital world, KNOWSTATE crafts digital content that captures the true essence of their subject, all facades and masquerades left at the door. Putting a spotlight on everything under the sun, from drag queens to musician, founders Kristine Sage and Mart Sarmiento have spent the last 6 months cultivating new, genuine and worthwhile connections with the city’s unsung heroes.

Tell us how did Knowstate come to be?

We built Knowstate based on our passion for storytelling. Before this, we’d both separately been in the business of making stories ‘marketable’, often times sacrificing a lot of the substance for mass appeal, and we wanted to create a platform that is dedicated to telling stories ‘the way they deserve to be told’. No bullsh*t, no filters, no fluff. It’s very rebellious, but that is the nature of giving a voice to the people who aren’t heard enough.

As people who build brands up, what did it take to build your own brand?

It was a very complex process – moodboarding, characterizing, positioning, a lot of research and inspo-hunting was involved. It took us a couple of months to get the brand persona right before we soft-launched – if our brand was a person, we wanted that person to be someone you’d be proud to introduce to your friends.

There’s a lot of orange happening on your branding, why orange?

Content is our product, and it’s not something you can physically touch or feel, so we needed to find something for people to remember us by. So we sought colors. No color stimulates mental activity like orange does – it entices the appetite, and we wanted to integrate that with a thirst for knowledge. It’s an unsung color, but it’s never failed to catch everyone’s attention. Lo and behold, the Knowstate orange.

What do you think makes great storytelling?

We always say, “Good storytelling doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be real.” It’s about finding that sweet spot that makes a story universally relatable, while completely preserving its substance. Everyone’s story is worth telling, but the challenge lies in getting people to listen and relate. It’s a collective of the narrative, the visuals, and knowing what questions deserve to be answered. If you can achieve that, it’s storytelling magic.

Tell us about your most rewarding projects so far?

Difficult to say. The most rewarding part of all our projects is seeing and witnessing the impact the stories make on the people they matter to. Sometimes, people just want to be heard, and when they finally are, it means everything.

In your opinion, what’s the creme de la creme of the Hong Kong creative scene right now?

Some of the most legit creative geniuses we’ve ever met are the ones behind the scenes – behind the heavy cameras, behind the insane edits, behind the witty copy, behind the clever graphics… any brand/company that has a good grasp of youth culture and an honest business model is worth praising. But if we had to name some: Goldthread & GoldfishTV, Gluestick Entertainment and Eaton Hotel is also putting out some really good stuff to uplift the scene.

What makes Hong Kong home?

Sage: I guess the fact that – and this sounds so cliche but – it’s the place that made me who I am: from learning how to walk, to falling in love and getting my heart broken, to getting my first paycheck, then getting fired for my job (yup, that happened), meeting all the people I could never have imagined meeting, making the wrong choices and learning to get back on my feet, it all happened here. And there’s something about being in this fast-paced, densely populated concrete jungle that makes you not want to take anything for granted.

Mart: In my opinion, home is where your memories lie and where you’re most comfortable. And Hong Kong is where I have my best memories growing up, people who inspired me to be a videographer are here as well. I’m most comfortable here because I know the city inside out and unlike most people, I enjoy the fast-paced, competitive city that Hong Kong is.

So, what’s next for Knowstate?

Honestly, we’re ready for anything. More documentaries, more stories, more PARTIES! (Just kidding.) On a more serious note, we’re always on the lookout for worthwhile collaborations – whether it be with other brands who also want to tell their stories, or just giving a voice to those who don’t. We’re here to break creative boundaries.

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