Style stars

Style stars

These style influencers have made a name for themselves for leading apparently picture-perfect lives. On their Instagram feeds are photographs of the latest luxury bags, meals at top restaurants and fancy vacations. But they tell Leslie Kay Lim and Stacey Chia there is more to them than meets the eye.

Velda Tan: Entrepreneur with a simple dream

She is the co-founder of popular online boutique Love, Bonito and newly opened lobster restaurant Pince & Pints, but as a teenager, Ms Velda Tan's goal in life was to be a housewife.

Watching her unpack her chic pant and skirt suits that she has brought along for this photo shoot, it is hard to imagine the 27-year-old being anything other than a career woman.

"That was a dream I had when I was really young and perhaps naive, way before I discovered the entrepreneurial spirit in me," says the social media darling, who has 112,000 followers on her Instagram account (@belluspuera).

Love, Bonito, which she founded in 2005 with her older sister Viola, 31, and best friend Rachel Lim, 27, started out as a platform to sell their own clothes for extra cash.

From its simple beginnings, it has grown into a business that is now believed to be worth a seven-figure sum. The trio moved on to import clothing and then started to create their own designs. Mr Frederick Yap, her then boyfriend and now husband, was the company's managing director.

Business was so good that the couple dropped out of university to focus on the store. She was enrolled in the business and finance course at SIM University, and he was in an engineering programme in the United States. Ms Tan still has a stake in the business, but is no longer involved in its day-to-day running. Her husband is no longer a part of the business.

She handles marketing and public relations for her restaurant, which brings in huge dinner crowds.

Naturally, her taxi-driver father and bank officer mother objected to her leaving school.

"But we realised that we enjoyed running a business and it was worth taking the risk," says Ms Tan, who sits perfectly poised throughout the interview.

The business flourished as it was one of the first few online shops offering on-trend, affordable clothing, but Ms Tan's social media presence possibly played a part too.

Her blog (www.belluspuera.blogspot.sg), which she started at around the same time as the shop, was a glimpse into her life and work through advertorials. At its height, it received 10,000 views daily.

Now, she has put blogging on the back burner, but actively uploads photos of food, fashion and travel that portray an enviable though not ostentatious lifestyle on Instagram.

Gone are the days, too, when she would don Love, Bonito outfits. Her photographs now feature niche brands, such as Australian labels Finders Keepers and Cameo, some of which are presents from the brands.

A natural in front of the camera, the 1.7m-tall beauty was a finalist in The New Paper New Face modelling competition in 2006 and a briefcase girl on the game show Deal Or No Deal.

While she has moved into the food and beverage business, she says that her interest will always be in fashion.

Last year, she took fashion drawing, pattern- making and brand-management courses at the renowned Central Saint Martins arts college in London.

"Growing up, I shared a room with my two sisters and we were always borrowing clothes and dressing up together. Fashion was always our thing," says Ms Tan. Her younger sister Vanya, 24, is an air stewardess.

Beneath this strong businesswoman still lies the girl with simple dreams of taking care of her family.

"I want two boys and two girls if we can afford it," she says with a smile, revealing her trademark dimples.

"But they always say you'll know how many you want after you have your first, so I'll hold that thought."

Read on more about teen blogger, Mae Tan, on the next page.

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