Carmen Choi has always had a passion for jewellery and design, but while working in finance, she noticed that Hong Kong lacked a boutique and business that sourced jewellery from emerging designers around the world.
It was this realisation that inspired her to launch Galerie C, which stands for Chara. The Greek word for 'joy', it sums up Choi's personality perfectly.
In our latest edition of the Tatler 10 where we pose 10 questions to Hong Kong-based entrepreneurs about their businesses, we asked Choi about the challenges of being an entrepreneur and why she was happy to leave the corporate world behind.
1) What does Hong Kong mean to you?
Hong Kong is home, and it’s where my family and friends are. It’s also a city I love—I find it to be a very style-conscious place, which makes it the perfect home for my business.
2) Summarise your business in one sentence
With Galerie C, I aspire to build a personal experience where one can discover her sense of style, and express it through a range of jewellery from our collection.
3) What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment was making my dream a reality. I started and grew this business from scratch. Outside of work, I run a charity supporting underprivileged students who may not have the means to finance their tertiary education.
See also: The Tatler 10 with Nana Chan
4) What do you love most about running your own business?
There's never a dull moment and there's always room to explore new opportunities. I love my job, especially when I have the chance to style someone with jewellery that fits her personality and style. Building trust and relationships is something that I will always treasure.
5) What advice can you offer budding entrepreneurs?
My advice to budding entrepreneurs is to dream and never be deterred by the obstacles that may come your way. Just make sure to do enough research and analysis on the market, competitors and opportunities. Work hard and don't forget to enjoy the process.
6) As an entrepreneur, what do you think sets you and your business apart from the competition?
The personal attention we give to our clients—many have become personal friends of mine, and we've bonded over our mutual appreciation for jewellery. Galerie C is more than just a boutique; it’s a place for friends to gather, relax and to enjoy themselves amongst our dazzling collection of jewellery.
7) Who inspires you and why? This can be one person or different people.
Tory Burch inspires me because she’s worked very hard to build her empire, but also as a philanthropist who devotes a lot of her own time to helping those in need and empowering young women.
8) Looking back do you wish you had done anything differently?
I wish I'd left the corporate world earlier to start my business—it’s been such an enjoyable and inspirational experience so far.
See also: The Tatler 10 with Lelian Chew
9) What's your end goal?
I would first like to develop my business in Hong Kong but also expand within the region. Outside of work, I want to continue to give back to society by helping others to improve and empower their lives.
10) What are your words to live by?
"Explore. Dream. Discover." Wise words by Mark Twain.