Steel magnolia

Armed with a master’s degree, Teh Wenfei has quickly gained a foothold in the fashion industry

16 Apr 2019 / 11:03 H.

PERFECTLY poised, with a courageous fortitude that is so endearing, Teh Wenfei surprises many with her educational background.

The 25-year-old lass, a qualified Barrister-at-Law, also achieved a first class master’s degree in intellectual property and luxury fashion e-commerce.

She said: “I’ve always been intrigued by the ownership and protection of something as intangible as an idea.”

Wenfei is also the general manager of English fashion labels Anya Hindmarch and Halcyon Days in Malaysia, and shares the workload with her mother Soo Shea Pin, who is the managing director for both brands.

Soo also recently marked 15 years as the franchise owner for Anya Hindmarch.

Wenfei recalls: “I remember I was only 10 when she started doing this, and now I’m 25, I could see the progressive changes throughout all these years.”

There are no signs of her resting on her laurels.

Together with her wealth of experience and knowledge, she continues to challenge the odds, and believes in making twice the effort when facing difficulties.

Do you often feel pressure working alongside your family?

“It turned out better than I thought. A lot of people did warn me about the many challenges, which I totally understand why it can be difficult because you’re so close with your family and obviously you’d feel the pressure to perform.

“But I don’t see it that way, I have a really good relationship with my mum, we agree and think alike in most cases, which is important to have the same values.

“I also wouldn’t label it as ‘pressure’, instead, I’d like to think of it as motivation.”

Where do you draw the line between family and work?

“I’m not worried about where to draw the line, but my mum who is also my boss sometimes tries.

“Oftentimes at dinner, she would declare to not talk about work, she is conscious of the fact that dinner talk shouldn’t always be about work, because we can talk any other time.

“Though, ideas do come at the most unexpected times during dinner, so we still end up discussing it anyway, it really is neither a good nor bad thing.”

Are you able to apply your master’s degree in law to what you’re doing?

“I did my masters’ dissertation on intellectual property law, and even more specifically in the context of online luxury retail, so in a way it combines two things I love in life, which is law and fashion.

“I thought it was really exciting to finally research something that I wanted to learn.

It is the same in any degree, it’s not necessary what you learn that you’re going to apply, it could be the skills that you’ve learned from it; the researching skills, analysing skills, or even writing, because it takes a lot of effort to put together a press release.”

How would you describe your personal fashion style?

“Natural, understated yet sophisticated, but stylish I suppose, because I don’t quite like vibrant colours and over-the-top jewellery.”

How was the experience working with some of the industry’s biggest names like Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo and Nicholas Kirkwood, which are known for their shoes?

“Manolo was my first ever fashion internship in London.

The experience was great because I got to see Manolo himself doing his thing, and I thought that was very exciting as it is a global brand, yet also a surprisingly close-knit company.

“Compared to it, Jimmy Choo was very different, the office building itself is huge, full of glass and window panes, with a completely different working environment as well.

“Nicholas Kirkwood offers a different aesthetic and sensibilities of footwear than the recognisable Jimmy Choo heels, so their working culture is also different.”

How do you define a good leader?

“I’ve seen, and worked for, individuals who are both good and bad examples.

What I’ve taken away from it and what I’ve also learned from my mum is to be firm but kind, because I don’t see any benefits in treating people badly or demotivating them, instead, I believe in positive reinforcements.

“As a general manager, it is always good to be involved rather than detached from the employees.”

Who is the most influential person in your life?

“My mum. It’s natural because we live, travel and work together.

She has taught me to be a strong, independent and empowered woman, just like how she is, which I can totally stand by that.

“Particularly right now when most are advocating for women’s rights, and that resonates with us so well. She has definitely influenced me and my sister in that sense.”

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