We all know these words: Strong, Independent, and Woman. Put them together and we’ll have the perfect adjective for the modern woman, a goal-oriented woman who knows her principles and values.
Here in Cebu, we’ve come across so many women of different generations who have set a name for themselves in many fields like art, politics, and business. One such lady is 24-year-old Charmaine De Leon.
Charm has always had the eye for business, starting a small online shop during her senior year in college. By the time she was 21, she along with other young entrepreneurs launched what is now the biggest bazaar in Cebu, Pop District Bazaar. Later on, she joined the team of Sugbo Mercado, what is now the biggest weekend food market in Cebu City, and serves as their Finance Director.
Charm is a strong supporter of start-up businesses, having also started one at a very young age. “I want to encourage Cebuanos and Filipinos to set their mind to be more open to setting a business and entrepreneurship,” she says.
Charm considers herself as well as other women lucky to be living at a time where women can be on top, and that embracing that fact makes up a strong independent woman of today.
When asked if she considers herself to be a strong independent woman, she says, “I am a woman. I consider myself to be independent.” And when it comes to being strong, Charm says that strength does not only mean not showing any weaknesses, but embracing one’s faults and learning from them.
“Even through your weakness, you can still find a reason to be strong,” she adds. If you do find yourself to be in a pool of struggles, she advises to have a healthy chat about them with your friends to help lessen the burden and load you’re carrying.
A strong independent woman is never one without values that uphold her being. For Charm, these are the values of people, money, and appreciating the value in things and respecting them. For her, showing respect for even the simplest of things comes a long way and creates an impact especially for others. All these she learned from her family, which she considers her source of strength.
“I find my strength in my family. I’m mainly doing what I do because of them, even [in] my advocacy in promoting businesses,” she said.
Being a CEO and Director of such big and popular businesses at a very young age, Charm is confident that she has proven herself to be a testimony that a young woman can do business. “I’ve proven that if you’re young, you can do it. Not [having] much experience can be a strength because I can absorb and learn from the experiences of others.”
But it does not stop there. Having started with Pop District Bazaar and Sugbu Mercado which gave way to local start-up business entrepreneurs, Charm’s dream is to start something that gives back to the community and to create a social enterprise where she is able to help people especially communities from rural areas to start their own and prosper from their businesses.
For Charm, being a woman may have its pros and cons. She tells all young women to never stop learning and finding their own passion. “It’s never too late. Focus on you and focus on learning. When you educate yourself enough about what you’re passionate about, it resonates,” she tells Zee.
Tea with Coralie
When a basket filled with tea goodies of macaroons, delicate cakes and sandwiches was delivered, it came in the signature purple color of this iconic brand. “Very Charriol”, as Coralie , the CEO of the Swiss brand, might have put it. She didn’t actually use that term to describe the savories. Rather, she was describing the cable bracelet that makes their products distinct. Avid Rustans Cebu shoppers will find the Charriol boutique just off the main entrance of the department store, near the familiar scented hall at the first level. On display are an array of earrings, bracelets and watches enticing to those looking for retail therapy with pieces that are timeless and yet not overtly breaking the credit card limit.
The tea Zoom party, as arranged by our host Ginggay Joven, and Luzanne Manlapit who is the brand manager of Charriol in the Philippines, was as good as any press-do from pre pandemic normal times. And an intimate peak at lifestyle editors’ lives as most of us were zooming from our living rooms, including Coralie who was answering our questions from her home in Geneva. Like most of us, she readily says, “I have a travel bug, and on weekends, I dream of where I can go!”.
Philip Charriol, Coralie’s father who started the brand in 1983, was a frequent visitor to the Philippines, making Manila (and Cebu) a side trip to his rounds of Singapore and Hong Kong. He made many friends in Asia and it was a sad day when everyone heard of his passing more than a year ago in a car accident at the Le Castellet racing track in southeast France.
These days, the company is in good hands with Coralie. She is set to debut a series of new collections building upon her father’s vision, including a reimagined Celtic collection, a line of watches first introduced in the 80s. The latest Celtic Legacy watch has a more striking face with two dials and bigger bezels available in gold or rose gold. The cable bracelet is made up of 6 strands of steel and titanium alloy that are flexible and durable. It comes in an elegant 30mm case, making it an equally perfect accessory for both a lunchtime affair as well as to a glitzy night on the town.
Also new are their ocean-themed pieces. The Forever Starfish watch comes in two iteration of stainless steel or rose gold case with a white mother-of-pearl dial. The second one is the Marina bracelet collection — the Charriol signature cable tied around a porthole and clasped together by a Charriol dial, it’s a fresh and young take for an everyday jewelry.
As a contemporary business leader, Coralie shared cautionary tales of polar bears and melting icebergs. Through their Charriol Living initiative, Philippe Charriol is a partner of the global organization Lonely Whale. It is a community of international businesses cognizant of the harming effects of disposable stuff in today’s world. Particularly single-use plastics, which are harmful to marine life when they end up in our seas. She co-produced a compelling documentary titled The Story of Plastic (www.storyofplastic.org) “a searing expose revealing the ugly truth behind plastic pollution and the false solution of plastic recycling”.
The company is committed to being socially conscious. Pretty soon, all Charriol packaging will be made of paper and sustainable materials. “We are interconnected tru our oceans”, she explains. In addition, part of the proceeds of selected ocean-themed Charriol pieces like the Forever Turtle watch, the Forever Waves and Ocean bracelets, will go to the Lonely Whale organization.
Philippe Charriol comes up with new design for watches once a year or once every two years to keep it fresh. Their jewelry line is much more frequent with bracelets and earrings. When asked if the company will be coming out with smart watches, Coralie was quick to reply that although other prestige watch companies have tried it, Charriol will not be producing one. “But I am coming out with something by October which is a kind of an accessory to a techie watch. To connect Charriol to technology.”
Coralie Charriol, the CEO of Charriol showing the Forever Starfish collection using mother of pearl face and their entry level cable bracelets in bright colors.
Screenshot of the Zoom tea party attended by top Manila lifestyle editors
The tea goodies for the tea party delivered by the Charriol team
The Charriol boutique inside Rustans at Ayala Center Cebu
PANDEMIC DIARIES: Twelve Months Later
Photos taken by Pablo Quiza around Cebu City during the months of March, April and May 202
AS WE APPROACH ONE YEAR under pandemic times, we look back at March 2020 with fascination. And awe. We had 12 months of lockdown and survived the so called new normal. We lived with masks and alcohol even today. Carless roads and dark malls. Those were the early days of March, April and May.
It stretched to October and past Christmas. No Sinulog. Virtual parties on Zoom and virtual mass on You Tube and FB Live. We debated on the best meds to take if we get sick and whether to wear masks (please do!). We scampered for face shields and anti-viral sprays. Vitamins C and D and zinc. Later, we survived being swabbed and we learned the difference between a PCR and an anti-gene test. The latter cost less.
We dreaded the declarations of IATF mandated from Manila. And we got mad at the police chief who had a birthday party while his people were busy locking up everyone violating the lockdown. Most horrifying of all, we needed to produce IDs! Are you a resident of Barangay Lahug or Banilad? Are you employed and why are you still working? Everyone suffered thru endless checkpoints. Most sad of all are those using motorbikes, they seem to get the raw end of the deal since those with cars are not as scrutinized. We managed to trick the system by putting a big handwritten note in front of the car: COMPANY CAR, and zipped tru the police desks in the middle of the road. Don’t even think of travelling, by plane, boat or bus. The collection of the required documents is enough for one to get exposed to Covid.
We learned to shop online, order groceries and necessities thru delivery. We slowly moved towards cashless payments. Gcash and banks like Union Bank and China Bank with friendly apps are heroes for making life easy for most of us to spend what little cash we have to spend on Lazada or pay the VECO bill. Oh and we binged on K dramas on Netflix and You Tube, kamsaminada.
As 2021 enters, there are some good news. For those obsessed with news, you already know that 7,000 vaccines arrived last March 2 in Cebu, with more expected in the next few weeks. The death rate is not as high among those who caught this pesky virus, which tells us that doctors in the hospitals have some proven expertise in dealing with Covid. More cures should be in the horizon.
Meanwhile, lets continue dreaming of the day when we can cross borders again, even if its just Bohol or Boracay, Bangkok or Hong Kong. Ready those luggages and bags bought during the 3/3 sale in Shopee in preparation for the day when we can take the ferry or the plane for new adventures.