Cool, calm and collected—Lelian Chew is not one to crack under pressure, a valuable asset considering the high-stress nature of her profession. After leaving her decade long career in finance behind, Lelian founded The Wedding Atelier—which soon after opened a Singapore office, and she soon followed it up with The Floral Atelier.
In our latest edition of the Tatler 10 where we pose 10 questions to Hong Kong-based entrepreneurs about their businesses, we asked Chew about the challenges of being an entrepreneur and why she’s always inspired by the love around her.
1) What does Hong Kong mean to you?
2) Summarise your businesses in one sentence.
The Wedding Atelier plans, while The Floral Atelier designs, breathtaking luxury events around the world.
3) What is your proudest accomplishment?
There’s no better feeling then seeing your clients happy with the outcome of all your hard work—there are too many proud moments to name.
4) What do you love most about running your own business?
The ability to choose the work we do and the clients we serve. Our clients engage us for an average of 18 months to conceptualise their dream celebration. This is a long gestation period that might not work for every company but I am glad my team and I have the ability to do what we do.
5) What advice can you offer budding entrepreneurs?
The word “entrepreneur” has become so romanticised in recent years. It’s associated with freedom, glamour and empowerment. I wished someone had told me how far from the truth this was. In reality, entrepreneurs have the job security of zero-hour contract workers, the money worries of chronic gamblers and the social life of hermits. If you already know this and are still raring to go, you’ll stand a fighting chance.
6) As an entrepreneur, what do you think sets you and your business apart from the competition?
I left a decade-long career in Goldman Sachs for this so there was never an option for this to be a mere hobby. Amidst a sea of “mom-and-pop shops” in the event management and design business, I wanted to be the one that’s professionally ran, inimitable company—one that really stands out from the crowd.
The Wedding Atelier just won Luxury Travel Guide’s “Wedding Expert Of The Year” — a first for an Asian company. The Floral Atelier started The Asia-Pacific Wedding Masterclass where professionals around the world came to Asia to hone their skills. A local presence with a global voice—that’s what makes The Wedding Atelier and The Floral Atelier distinctive and inimitable.
7) Who inspires you and why?
People in love inspire me! The love between my brides and grooms inspires me to constantly break new frontiers. The love my husband showers me with inspires me to want to be deserving of his love. The love I have for my family motivates me to want to conquer more in life.
8) Looking back do you wish you had done anything differently?
I believe there are three things in life that we tend to hold back on doing until we are completely ready—to get married, start a business and to have kids. Ironically, these are the same three things that we often derive our greatest joys from. In hindsight, I wished I took the plunge to start The Wedding Atelier and The Floral Atelier earlier.
9) What's your end goal?
Building a global team to lead a sustainable business. My true definition of success is when The Wedding Atelier and The Floral Atelier, not Lelian Chew, are synonymous with luxury events.
10) What are your words to live by?
“Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.”