The Standard Interview Session – With Christy Wo – Trailblazing girl power
Two entrepreneurs redefine what it means to be successful, high-achieving women in this postfeminist age, writes Gigi Wong
Too very often high-flying women with outstanding professional achievements are stereotyped as bossy, abrasive and unfeminine; because, as far as traditional gender roles are concerned, ladies are supposed to be on the other end of the spectrum – likable, pliant and quiet.
Christy Wo, the founder of lifestyle brand Crisathena, and best known as the ‘Queen of the Timepiece Industry’, however, manages to strike a delicate balance between these two extremes.
“When I initiated the business, no one endorsed my ideas, not even my own employees; so I summoned them to the meeting room and asked them each to give me three reasons as to why I should not proceed. I then debunked their ideas one by one with facts and data.
“A mere six months later, our sales surged and those who once doubted me were asking for discounts to purchase the watches,” Wo says with a controlled passion that comes with an approachable, down-to-earth charm.
A model-turned-entrepreneur, Wo, capitalizing on the boom of the U.S. watch brand TechnoMarine back in 2000, rocked the timepiece industry with her bold introduction of an affordable luxury wristwatch.
“Being a trendsetter is to lead the way, rather than trailing as a follower. If you believe in yourself when nobody else does, and do what you’re passionate about, you can look forward to success ahead,” she says with unwavering conviction.
Crisathena, Wo’s latest venture, sought to construe an all-rounded lifestyle brand targeting modern independent women with discerning tastes. The French luxury brand encompasses a series of premium products ranging everything from watches, lipsticks, jewellery to fashion. Its unique market positioning has made an indelible impression among consumers local and abroad, with Crisathena watches garnering tremendous commercial success in Europe shortly after the rollout.
Perhaps most notably, the brand brings to the market an extraordinary array of statement watches that act not as a tactical gear but a fashionable, chic accessory to a contemporary lady’s curated wardrobe.
“Our products stand out because of the unique designs that we regularly bring out: show-stopping, brilliant-cut diamonds and jewels paired with exuberant colors in a strikingly feminine contour,” says Wo.
The brand, having been featured in international magazines and sported by celebrities and runway models worldwide, is launching a new diamond collection next year in partnership with Gripoix Paris, the legendary French costume jewellery brand boasting over 130 years of heritage. “Crisathena aims at the global market and we’re looking to expand to handbags, glasses and other product lines very soon.”
One of the brand’s stalwart fans is Dr. Theresa Fok, Founder of Jade Land Properties (HK) Limited, a boutique real estate consultancy that has made a name in marketing overseas property – in particular, premium real estates in Malaysia.
“I got acquainted with Christy through a common friend and fell in love with Crisathena watches. They are very hip and trendy; whether it’s for a formal or informal occasion, rest assured you can find the right watch with Crisathena to match your outfit,” says Fok, highlighting the Chandelier collection vintage green emerald watch furnished with exquisite ruby and turquoise, and a green leather strap.
Also a high-profile entrepreneur herself, Fok is hailed by partners, friends and clients alike for her perspicacious approach to property investment. Since founding Jade Land in 1993, Fok has maintained a unique dedication to providing personalized service to clients, while being a proficient supplier of top-notch international properties, such as YOO8 Serviced by Kempinski in collaboration with eminent residential design brand YOO.
“Jade Land taps into the worldwide trend of asset diversification in real estate and has successfully carved a niche for itself in Hong Kong’s now-saturated property market by championing a customer-centric approach,” notes Fok.
In lieu of trying to push hard for a sale, Fok is more concerned with what matches her clients’ needs and what fits their portfolio. This empathy is the backbone of her leadership approach, and creates the trust that rallies her team to a common cause.
“As a Buddhist, I believe in creating your opportunities with compassion and love, both in business and in life, and it has continued to attract positive people like Christy into my life,” says Fok.
The two high-flyers share many commonalities and interests – both are astute investors with a keen appreciation for beauty and fashion.In fact, they made a head-turning entrance at Club Albergue 1601 in Times Square where we conducted this interview.
Wo donned an eye-catching pink silk blazer and a belt-buttoned leather pant, while Fok was clad in a sophisticated black dress that commanded attention. They epitomize feminism in a way that demonstrates strong women can be attractive, smart and amicable at the same time.
Fok’s philosophy in work ethics resonates well with Wo, as she thrives in giving back to the community. Earlier this year Wo and her boyfriend jointly established the ‘JC Happiness Charity Foundation’, which has raised millions of dollars to support the visually impaired.
Recognizing an alarming rise in people struggling with mental health issues amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Wo says she is working to launch the second initiative that will focus on mental health, such as promoting meditation to help people find inner peace.
Besides her philanthropic work, Wo has also made the foray into the healthcare sector by advocating research-based products under the brand name IFUBO, which adopt biotechnology from Germany and patented sugar-free fermentation technology from Japan.
“Our team has carried out years of research and development, and found that the products offer health benefits beyond the nutritional value to anti-aging and natural skin whitening. To promote public health is what prompts me to found the company in the first place.”
Given their common values, Wo and Fok intend to step up their collaboration and pool their resources to propel their businesses. “Jade Land’s high-net-worth clients are like members of a club – we hang out together and share the same appetite for quality luxury products. We can definitely circulate luxury timepieces among them as well,” says Fok.
Any advice for young, budding entrepreneurs? Fok believes they can usefully draw experiences from their predecessors, and always challenge themselves with higher goals. Wo, on the other hand, underscores the importance of being forward-looking to break through from the everchanging business ecosystem.
“In this fast-moving age of digital economy, innovation is key to creating new value, with technology catapulting the business of many startup companies – you have, for instance, Lalamove [the on-demand logistics startup] revolutionizing the delivery service industry,” says Wo.
“By being observant in everyday life and leveraging the enabling power of technology, you’ll find opportunities everywhere.”