LELIAN CHEW, founder of The Atelier & Co., which runs the luxury bridal and events planning company The Wedding Atelier and floral design studio The Floral Atelier (From left) T1 narrow 18K yellow gold bangle with diamonds, matching bangle and wide 18K rose gold ring with diamonds, Tiffany & Co. All clothes worn throughout, Chew’s own
NEJLA MATAM-FINN, founder and CEO of The Fifth Collection, an e-commerce business specialising in the consignment of vintage and pre-loved luxury fashion T1 narrow 18K white gold ring with diamonds and matching bangle with diamonds, Tiffany& Co. All clothes worn throughout, Matam-Finn’s own
Even with a core business in an industry that – in Chew’s own words – was “the first one out and likely to be the last one back in the game” due to the pandemic, this 38-year-old has still had her share of highs this year. In July, The Wedding Atelier became the first Asian company to be listed among the world’s top wedding planners by one of the scene’s most respected consumer publications. While plans to open up a Shanghai office had to be put on hold, she admits that having the foresight to launch an e-commerce platform that allows customers to “buy flowers within three clicks” from the start has helped her tide over this period. And, of course, there was that one small-scale yet no less dreamy – and social distancing-conscious – wedding in a remote part of Indonesia that she designed and orchestrated over Zoom with a foreign team to heartwarming success. (The local client, whose major celebrations have been postponed to next year, said the only thing that was missing was Chew’s physical presence.) Keeping The Atelier & Co. sustainable in order to protect her clients and team as well as help her often-independent vendors stay afloat is her top priority, she says, and this means having to be more creative and picking up new responsibilities and skills including – get this – using Photoshop. “We need to be very flexible and quick to act,” she says. “By stripping away the excess, my team and I have discovered that we actually need very little to thrive at work and in our personal lives.” (This page from top) T1 narrow 18K white gold ring with diamonds, narrow 18K rose gold ring with diamonds and matching wide bangle with diamonds. (Opposite from near right) T1 narrow 18K yellow gold ring, wide 18K rose gold ring with diamonds, narrow 18K rose gold ring with diamonds, and narrow 18K yellow gold ring. All Tiffany & Co.
In recent months, the French-born Matam-Finn has moved her six-year-old business into a new office/warehouse in Jalan Besar that spans a cavernous 4,000 sq ft. The generous space means that she can expand operations, including taking in even more inventory – an anomaly considering how most fashion consignment businesses leave their wares with their original owners until there’s a buyer. (The Fifth Collection’s business model means that it takes full ownership of the goods and can look after the resale process from start to end, she explains.) It’s a timely upgrade considering how the company has seen a growth in overseas markets such as the US despite zero marketing this year. Ask Matam-Finn for her biggest takeaway from the pandemic however and she replies coolly: “That it’s okay to slow down and take your time to make decisions.” Her team was a big influence on the choice of the new location. “I can’t offer my staff a lot of things that bigger corporations can so if I can make sure that where we’re based is convenient and allows them to have a social life, I would,” she says. Taking care of everyone’s health has also been as important as keeping the brand going. As she puts it: “Nothing wrong will happen if you slow down.” (From left) T1 narrow 18K yellow gold ring, narrow 18K white gold ring with diamonds, narrow 18K rose gold ring, matching bangles with and without diamonds, and wide 18K rose gold bangle with diamonds. (Opposite) T1 wide 18K yellow gold ring. All Tiffany & Co.
PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT ALIF HAIR SEAN ANG MAKEUP ELAIN LIM, USING TOM FORD MANICURE ZI/AUUM – THE HONEST NAIL SPA