Pushing ahead

Her mother is her biggest influence. – Sunpix by Mohd Amirul Syafiq
She enjoys reading and travelling. – Sunpix by Mohd Amirul Syafiq Mohd Din

BEING a woman, Jean Chan had a general interest for the beauty industry but getting into it was something of a coincidence.

Joining the industry when she was 21, she stayed with her first company for seven and a half years before joining other companies and coming back two years ago.

With more than 15 years of experience, Chan is now a senior business manager and at 37 years of age, she believes she still has a long way to go.

"I think the next 10 years or so will be a continuous development and progression. It is the best time to push myself to see what I can do. I don't think you can ever stop learning no matter how old you are," she said.

Her work co-exists with a healthy retail environment and in terms of challenges, there is no denying that retail last year was down. It was not so much about consumers not having the money to spend, but everyone was just careful.

"Consumers these days are very advanced. Things they used to do before may not work right now, and that is something we need to adapt to, to engage with the changing consumers of our time.

"We are all talking about the millennials now – how do we get them interested and excited? We have to be more familiar with digital, e-commerce and TV shopping; these sort of things are not the norm so it is keeping things new.

"It is also a growing industry. Everyone wants to launch a fragrance whether you are a designer or celebrity. It keeps it spicy and interesting which is why I am still in it," she said.

Being in the beauty industry gives Chan the liberty and freedom to dress up, and be exposed to beauty products and make-up.

"I am quite classic. I don't follow the trends because I know myself and am comfortable with my way of dressing. I like pencil skirts with a shirt tucked in and fitted dresses. Occasionally, fl are skirts but not fancy, puffy dresses and at the end of the week, sometimes patterns. My wardrobe is mainly monotone colours, but now I am into all kinds of yellows from pastel to bright," she said.

Chan is diligent with her skincare regime because in this industry, you have to be groomed when you go out. You have to walk the talk because you are representing the brands in your industry.

"I no longer do the basic three-step routine, but eight-step. I double cleanse, apply a toner, pre-serum, serum, pre eye cream, moisturiser, sunblock and an antiageing serum. It has become a regular routine and doesn't seem like something that is going to take more time.

"I am a lot simpler with make-up. I use a foundation and powder, but I don't use concealer a lot. Drawing my eyebrows is a must, as well as eyeliner, blusher and lipstick. I don't do a lot of eyeshadows so generally, I do like bright lipsticks.

"And I do use the brands from my company. We own a skincare brand called Philosophy and my go-to is a serum called Time in a Bottle and a moisturiser called Renewed Hope in a Jar," she said.

Besides facials, pedicures and manicures on weekends, Chan runs errands and takes time to read. She enjoys drama and thriller; books by John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer and James Patterson, and some of these books she has read five times. Her target is to read 100 books a year.

"I am trying to be an adult and read autobiography, but I don't fi nd it interesting. I haven't found one that is engaging, no matter how much I admire these people. That is something I should progress to, eventually," she said.

Chan also enjoys travelling and has a resolution to travel every month. In 2015, she travelled 10 of the 12 months, and is now planning for this year.

"I enjoy the outdoors and am looking at a trip to Kathmandu, Nepal. I was planning to go two years ago, but the earthquake happened. As I get older, I feel that travelling is less about shopping and more about taking in the culture and going to regular places where locals hang out.

"I used to go to Paris every year, and the first year I was there, which is more than 10 years ago, I thought the people were a little snobbish. My highlight was two years ago and it was a different sort of France. It is nice going back and seeing the changes every year," she said.

Chan's biggest influence is her mother. While growing up, her mother is always her go-to person in terms of career, if there is any issue at work, with colleagues or just fitting in.

"She is always someone I have been comfortable talking and sharing with. As I got older she does not give me so much advice, but more of hearing me out and being objective about the comments I make. She was working for the longest time and as a mother who was climbing the corporate ladder, that is admirable. A lot of what I am today is from her," she said.

A cup of coffee every morning keeps her happy and Chan dreams of opening a book cafe, a place selling new books or people bringing second-hand books, and the place smells like coffee beans. She wants to fi nd somewhere that is fuss-free and comfortable for people to work, read and hang out. More importantly, to exchange knowledge and books.


Motto: Laugh, love and travel

Favourite cities: Paris and New York

Go-to cuisines: Japanese and Thai

Daily fragrance: Inner Grace by Philosophy