To celebrate two decades of empowerment and our 20th Anniversary, The Weekly in partnership with PANDORA, zooms in on 20 fierce, focused and forward-looking women who and inspiring and encouraging others to reach their full potential. Welcome to 2020 Vision!
She may be one of the most influential faces in Singapore’s business landscape but far from being aloof, Claire is warm and approachable. There’s no pretence as she sits down to talk to me about her accomplishments as a woman and how her success has allowed her to effect social change.
“I grew up in a period of Singapore where mutual support was so important in the nation’s developmental journey,” she explains.
“My neighbours and my family would always be exchanging goods; be it food, lending a helping hand or doling out advice. So from an early age I had embedded within me, this concept of social exchange, where people helped each other and I realised that by giving, you also get.”
It is a precious trait that Claire has passed on to her daughter, Renyung, who works in collaboration with rural textile artisans in Asia as part of her social enterprise MATTER.
“For me, it’s not about giving back out of charity or pity, but realising that a more equal society enhances that society’s wellbeing,” she asserts. “It’s better for all of us when there’s less inequality and that extends to women and gender equality as well as to one’s socio-economic status.”
Renyung also has her mum to thank for planting the seeds of craftsmanship in her mind. “She took me along on many of her travels for Banyan Tree Gallery and that really sparked my love of the process of making ceramics, glass and wood carving among others.”
Together, the mother-daughter pairing is pushing the concept of “retailing with a difference” through their work with Banyan Tree Essentials. The products sold under this line go towards sustaining village development, conserving natural and cultural resources, showcasing ethnic crafts.
[Claire] It’s wonderful being a woman because… because we have qualities that men can never emulate.
[Renyung] It’s wonderful being a woman because… I’ve grown up with the privilege of not being treated differently from my brothers.
(Main Image: Jeff Chang, Vee Chin and Yann Cloitre; Art Direction: Christina Lim; Styling: Jerome Awasthi, assisted by Nadia Rahman; and Neo Lirong, assited by Caroline Neo; Hair: Ash Loi, assisted by Raen Chan; Dawn Chang; and Kenneth Ong; Makeup: Carmen Ong; Ginger Lynette; Rie Miura; and Lolent Lee; All jewellery worn by PANDORA.)