Meet the 23-year-old who turned $5000 into $3 million with her obscure beauty idea.

The way Iyia Liu made her millions is controversial among women.

Early last year, the budding 23-year-old entrepreneur made a snap decision at just the right time: she bought into the waist trainer market.

Bulk buying $5650 ($NZ6000) worth of corsets from a Chinese stockist, the commerce university student was floored by how quickly her product was snapped up by customers keen to accentuate their waistline.

A photo posted by Iyia (@iyia_liu) on

Sales boomed after Liu marketed on Instagram and Facebook, prompting her to quickly pull together a team of eight to deal with the exponentially increasing demand. As of today, she has sold nearly 100,000 corsets.

In July, Liu – the daughter of property developers – paid lip kit aficionado Kylie Jenner a whopping $283,000 to share a selfie in one of her waist trainers on Instagram. It’s an investment she says took considerable time to pay off.

A photo posted by Iyia (@iyia_liu) on


“The return was not as fast as I thought it would be,” she told of the risk, which she tracked through the promo code ‘Kylie’.

One year on, Liu’s company has turned over $3.3 million, roughly translating to over $1 million profit, something she says resulted in her “falling out with a couple of friends”.

Liu’s two main variations of corset, Flexi and Latex, retail for $59 and $75 respectively.

In May, Mamamia‘s former editor in chief, Jamila Rizvi, tried waist training for herself and the results were not positive.

“At best, I thought I might lose a couple of centimetres off my waist and drop some kilograms from my frame. I absolutely did not expect what I got,” she wrote.

“The transformation of my usually happy self into a quiet, withdrawn, exhausted, hungry, sickly and empty-headed individual.”

Mia Freedman tries waist training.

Rizvi's opinion was echoed by Mamamia founder, Mia Freedman, who upon squeezing into the rigid garment explained, "Oh my gosh, I need to explain to you how it feels, I just can't breathe, it makes me not want to talk which is a terrible thing for me.

"Because everything is so compressed, I can only take really small breaths and I feel really dizzy because I feel like I'm not getting enough oxygen."

The effectiveness of waist training is widely disputed by medical professionals, also.

Professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, Caroline Apovian, told Health  the imputation that waist trainers have lasting results is ridiculous.

“If you’re going out and want to look really thin, I don’t see a problem with wearing one of these for an evening. If you look in the mirror and like what you see, it can potentially be a good thing.

"[But claims they reshape the body and trigger weightloss] in my opinion, is complete nonsense."

Would you try waist training? Let us know in the comments below.