Two successful entrepreneurs in their own right, Kimisabelle Choo and Vivian Quah, gel perfectly together as they work the camera for our Showcase photo shoot.
Wearing TSL jewellery in their own zodiac signs for our cover photo – Kimi was born in the year of the dragon and Vivian in the year of the goat – it was as if the stars aligned to bring us two strangers with different personalities but who complemented each other so well.
For the cover, Kimi wore a Limited Edition 18K White Gold Diamond Dragon Necklace with a Green Garnet from TSL’s 12 Treasures and 18K White Gold Diamond Earrings from the Eternity Collection.
Vivian’s dress from designer Alice McCall, worked well with a Limited Edition 18K White Gold Diamond Snake Necklace with Green Garnet from TSL 12 Treasures collection and an 18K Gold Diamond Ox Necklace With Green Garnet and earrings from the 9 Hearts 1 Blossom collection.
The beautiful businesswomen spoke about their careers, goals, achievements and personal endeavours, letting us in on what inspires them.
Kimisabelle’s soft-spoken and gentle demeanour puts you instantly at ease – a successful businesswoman and doting mother who has achieved the balance in life we all seek, you can tell she puts a lot of thought into her words and actions.
Mother of two and distributor of Korean eyewear brand Lapiz (with partner Valerie Ong), Kimi, as she is referred to by friends, is content as she enjoys both a successful business endeavour and a healthy family and social life.
As she poses in TSL jewellery’s 12 Treasures Collection pieces as well as the Raindrop and Eternity collections, her subtle elegance make for great photographs that depict both her quiet sophistication and the classic beauty of the jewellery.
Her love for Korean fashion and the country itself are what led her to begin bringing in Lapiz in 2016, which retails in several eyewear stores as well as FashionValet and 176 Avenue.
“I was frequently travelling to Korea and always buying this brand, so I decided to try and bring it in,” said Kimi, who previously had other endeavours in fashion. “I messaged the founder through Instagram, we set up a meeting and by the end of 2016 the brand was in Malaysia.”
What sets the brand apart from other sunglasses brands, according to Kimi, is that they are flattering for Asian face shapes.
“Their designs cater to Asian faces, the cuttings fit our small faces, compared to some European designs,” she explains. “Also, they are handmade with a modern edge.”
Despite stiff competition from other brands, Lapiz is doing well in Malaysia and they are increasing awareness with parties and events. On the buying side, Kimi visits Korea every two to three months to bring in new styles.
Being a businesswoman with two girls (aged nine and 13), 41-year-old Kimi makes it a point to find time for herself, making sure she exercises four to five times a week.
“Currently I really love FlyCycle and kickboxing, these two are my routine to keep myself fit,” she said, adding “I do facials once a month and I try to use a mask every day. Once in a while I go to the clinic to have treatments done.”
Taking time out also includes regular coffee and evening outings with her girlfriends, trips to Korea and Hong Kong to shop, and a family trip at the end of December.
Everywhere she goes, she brings with her her savvy street style – she loves comfortable clothes like sneakers, shorts and clothes that are more “street style”.
At the moment she is focusing on growing her new business, an online clothing store consisting of pieces from Korea that she handpicks – from clothes to small bags and accessories, called kimilovestoshop.com.
The founder of August Store, which brings in 12 Australian designer brands, has had her hands full these past few months. Their new store in Bangsar Village just opened to very positive response, following the closure of their Bangsar Shopping Complex outlet just two months prior.
In between, their online sales kept them going, with Vivian and her staff all the while working to set up the large space in Bangsar Village with handmade decorations, keeping up with the items to be brought in as well as planning their opening party and running their online and social media platforms.
Vivian, who used to work in retail in Brisbane, Australia, was already in contact with several brands in her line of work in Sass & Bide, one of the brands she brings in to her store, when she decided to begin bringing Australian labels into Malaysia.
“I wanted to come back to Malaysia because I was homesick, and I began researching the brands individually. This was in 2015,” said Vivian, 27, who founded August Store with her sister Vanessa – who mainly works behind the scenes.
“Because I used to work in the Australian fashion industry I knew a few people already so it was easier for me to approach them,” she explained. “We began with four brands in BSC, and now we have 12.
“Initially because we were new and the brands were so new, we didn’t get much response, and that was a bit of a challenge. When the opportunity to take up the space in BV came along we couldn’t ignore it, even though the timing was terrible.”
They were, at the time, going through major cash flow issues but Vivian bit the bullet and went with her gut – in their first month of operations at the new store their sales tripled from the month before and have been going well ever since.
Vivian, who goes to Sydney every three months on buying trips, six months prior to the seasons, sometimes finds it challenging to gauge what Malaysian customers will want. She tries to always bring in items that can be worn in several ways, followed by items people may need according to the time of year – for example, party dresses for party season at the end of the year, floral prints and reds for Chinese New Year and so on.
Future endeavours for August Store include more stores. “We’re opening our second store at Robinsons at the Shoppes at Four Seasons Place at the end of September, and hopefully next year we can open an August Store Men,” she said, adding, “We are still looking for a partner in Indonesia and part of our five year plan is to open a reverse concept – meaning to carry Asian brands in Australia,” explained Vivian, who studied accounting and finance and still does work for her family business, the distributors of KitchenAid in Malaysia.
For our shoot Vivian almost completely steps out of her comfort zone to accommodate our concept, donning flowy print dresses which she wouldn’t normally wear as she describes her style as masculine.
“I love a good blazer set, I love wearing pants, and I do wear dresses once in a while but the kind of slip dresses that are very plain. I wear heels if I have to but I’m more of a sneakers kind of person. My dressier side would be wearing a nice white pantsuit, white all over, but even for a ball I would never wear a ballgown,” she said, laughing.
As for self care, she works out six times a week and in order to reduce time spent in front of a mirror every day, she prioritises eyelash extensions, her regular hair dye session and most importantly, a good manicure, an essential part of working in retail.