Apart from introducing the new brand she has brought to our shores, Lee Sze Suen also talks about what 2021 holds.
Options: Tell us about Fope, a brand you are most excited to introduce to Malaysians.
Lee Sze Suen: Fope is an Italian brand, based in Vicenza, a city not far from Venice and where its first flagship boutique is located. I was introduced to Fope by a good friend in the business, a much-accomplished woman who, to me, is the epitome of sophistication. We struck up a friendship that has since spanned decades and continents, and it was she who facilitated the connection between the Fope and Suen brands.
The brand has more than 100 years of history, does it not?
Yes, but the most important thing to know is that Fope is unique. Its one-of-a-kind collection is the result of an exceptional blend of technology and craftsmanship. There is truly nothing like it!
Tell us more.
Fope has become extremely popular in our market, particularly for its Flex’it bracelets, a technology that was developed in-house and patented. It has since added Flex’it rings to its latest collections. Soft, smooth and flexible, they can be easily slipped on and off and are delicately linked, yet with no visible springs at all. Fope’s designs are also easy to wear, comfortable and timeless. Its patented Flex’it technology creates stretchable 18-carat gold bracelets that suit all occasions, from casual to formal. And you just need to see it to know that Fope’s quality speaks for itself. Even the tiniest gold springs hidden between each link is made of 18-carat gold.
So, who then is a Fope woman?
Her style is simple, yet highly distinctive and elegant.
What is your own attitude like towards wearing jewellery?
I honestly believe jewellery adds the finishing touch to any outfit. There is never one style for every wearer because each woman has her own individual style and personality. I find Fope jewellery able to suit and complement the varying styles of different women. It’s just so easy to dress an outfit up or down with it.
How was 2020 for the business though?
The year started off very well and everyone was most optimistic. However, when the Movement Control Order hit with just a day’s notice in March last year, that was rather stressful. Much of the year was not as expected, but I see it as a blessing in disguise and I feel truly fortunate to be able to reassess things and put some new initiatives in place.
What would you say were the best business lessons learnt last year?
My father is a very astute businessman and he always reminds me to ‘never take my fingers off the pulse of the business’. 2020 was a good reminder to plan strategically for profits and conservatively manage cash flows.
Where are you looking forward to travelling to — for work or pleasure — once the outside world seems safe again?
The first destination would be London, and then probably Italy. I love Italy and would always like to visit the country at least once a year. My last trip before borders were closed was actually to London and Scotland, to celebrate one of my sons’ birthday.
What books or apps have proved to be a source of inspiration or comfort for you of late?
Last year, I really prioritised making time to read. I generally enjoy biographies, autobiographies or anything related to history. I am currently in the middle of The Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan, His Heirs and the Founding of Modern China by John Man. It is proving to be a little slower in terms of my usual reading pace, but it is very illuminating.
And what are you looking forward to the most in this new year?
For the business, I am looking forward to the official launch of the Fope boutique in Kuala Lumpur. The launch was postponed from November due to the pandemic. I am also looking forward to a brand and product launch by one of my sons.
This article first appeared on Jan 25, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.