Meet five young women achievers – Narelle Kheng, Jessica Sinclair, Natasha Chiam, Zhang Ting Jun and Sherry Ang – who have done their thing and emerged all the stronger for it.
Who are they? This diverse and remarkably quirky quintet comprises a Singapore indie rocker, a yoga studio founder, a sushi entrepreneur, an atas dessert supplier and a non-profit charity volunteer, but what they have in common is a gung-ho spirit and charisma in spades – which is why they’ve also been pipped by Lancôme to be their Singapore faces as the French beauty giant toasts their 80th anniversary this year.
Yes, the beloved cosmetics powerhouse has been around for eight incredible decades, but what’s really cool is Lancôme’s commitment to training the spotlight on Singapore women just like you. Here are the five ladies who rock our world, Lancôme endorsement or no. See if you identify with any of these cool chicks …
Narelle Kheng, 21, actress and bass guitarist/vocalist with The Sam Willows
Narelle is wearing Blanc Expert Ombre Duo in Violet Lumineux, a Calvin Klein Platinum dress and Tiffany & Co. jewellery
Impress your hipster brother by casually name-dropping indie band The Sam Willows. Narelle’s the straight-talking, effortlessly sexy front-runner of said local quartet which, if all goes well, is tipped to make a big breakthrough this year, having signed with Warner Music Singapore and worked with Grammy Award-winning producer Steve Lillywhite.
Best thing about Narelle? She’s incredibly humble; no Ariana Grande delusions of diva-static grandeur here. Narelle cops to being “super-nervous” before each gig: Sweating, pacing the stage, all of the stuff you might go through before say, an office boardroom presentation. The trick is to make your shortcomings work in your favour: “I think it’s my flaws that make me charming. I feel most comfortable when I can show people my flaws and they still find it interesting,” Narelle says. Words to live by, especially if you’re a young OL upshot!
Jessica Sinclair, 32, co-founder of IHA Yoga
Jessica is wearing L’Absolu Rouge in Shade 47, an Emporio Armani dress and Bulgari jewellery
Jessica has scoliosis, but don’t feel sorry for her just yet: She’s quite the #FitnessInspo and credits daily yoga practice for her bangin’ bod and Zen, can-do approach to life. The co-founder of a yoga practice says her Mum is the blueprint for success: “She is the epitome of elegance, handling all situations with such grace and silent strength.”
Oh, and here’s a top tip for fellow fitness people: Be considerate and stash a good scent in your gym bag for post-workout freshening. Take it from the yoga master herself: “A beautiful scent makes me feel elegant. I’ve been using Lancôme Oui since I was a teen. It makes me feel beautiful and feminine.”
Natasha Chiam, 29, co-founder of The Ice Cream & Cookie Co.
Natasha is wearing Blush Subtil in Corail Lumineux, a McQ by Alexander McQueen dress and Van Cleef and Arpels jewellery
Natasha’s the mild-mannered co-founder of gourmet dessert supplier The Ice Cream & Cookie Co., but don’t let her gentle ways detract from the very determined and self-possessed individual she is: “I feel that I’m able to shape my own future. When you run a business, it’s very clear how your daily decisions affect your life.”
Natasha was a trained lawyer, but gave up a career in law – and another as a beauty writer – to pursue her love for the decidedly less glamorous business of baking. “I think it’s important to do things that you have an active interest in,” she muses. So how does she unwind when she’s out of the kitchen? “Go to spas, get my hair done and play with makeup!” Now those are pastimes we can really get on board with!
Zhang Ting Jun, 32, co-founder of The Chain Reaction Project
Ting Jun is wearing Blanc Expert Cushion Foundation, a Saint Laurent Paris shirt and tuxedo with Patek Philippe jewellery
It seems only natural to associate Ting Jun with strength. The all-round action woman used to play netball for Singapore and catches snakes for fun. She also does 24-hour mountain-bike races.
These days, the former journalist is involved in non-profit work that uses overseas adventures as a platform to raise money for the underprivileged in Asia, from sex workers in Bangkok to slum-dwellers in Manila. The woman who inspired Ting Jun’s charity work? Rosaria Martins da Cruz, director of HIAM Health, which works with the people of Timor Leste to reduce infant mortality rates. “She is my role model. You talk of strength of character and tenacity, but what I have is really nothing in comparison to people like her, who are in the trenches.”
When it comes to relaxing, you won’t find Ting Jun indulging in Gossip Girl marathons or going to the spa. “I run and mountain bike – I like the adrenalin rush. I’m not particularly good at being inactive.”
Sherry Ang, 28, owner of Sushi Burrito
Sherry is wearing Grandiose Mascara, a Camilla And Marc dress and Cartier jewellery
Sherry’s incredibly ingenious invention – sushi ingredients and rice rolled up in a portable little burrito – will probably go down in Singapore foodie history as the single most clever creation yet.
But don’t think she’s had her good luck and success delivered to her on a plate; Sherry says a great deal of elbow grease went into making this work: “Almost all lucky breaks or overnight successes are a result of accumulated consistent effort. Also, the right network and people who are willing to give you a chance to perform.”
If you’re thinking of doing the entrepreneur thing, don’t be afraid of being gutsy and getting into the right scraps. Here’s Sherry’s personal experience: “I feel confident when I’m able to break the stereotype of what a woman should be, and do what a man can do, but better. Most importantly, I feel confident when I’m able to emerge stronger from the obstacles before me.”
Click ‘play’ on the video below for more from Narelle and gang, including some decidedly surprising beauty secrets – headstands and acrobatic inversions, anyone?
To mark eight fabulous decades of beauty and innovation, Lancôme will kick off celebrations on International Women’s Day (March 8). As part of the campaign, Lancôme is looking for women who embody elegance, femininity, charm, self-confidence and strength of character: Traits, in other words, that represent Lancôme’s emblematic rose.
Photography: Veronica Tay, assisted by Angela Guo
Behind-the-scenes photography: Zaphs Zhang
Art Director: Neccol Woo
Styling: Toety Liang, assisted by Alessandra Cory Marcello
Hair: Eleanor Lee
Makeup: Dily Wang
Special thanks to Flutes Restaurant Bar & The Sultan Hotel