Bringing some of the world’s most inspiring women together for a common cause, the Piaget Extraordinary Women campaign celebrates the beauty and power of modern femininity. Through graceful photography and heartfelt conversations, Piaget Extraordinary Women is a unique platform sharing their achievements and aspirations with the objective to learn from these incredible individuals who are using their voices for good and helping other women fulfil their dreams.
Be The Change
What does it take to be truly extraordinary? Espousing the ideals of the Piaget Extraordinary Women campaign, these four women have pushed boundaries and transcended the status quo to carve their own paths, shatter glass ceilings, and find success on their own terms.
Meet Lelian Chew who took a road less travelled and ended up revolutionising an industry. Kwok Min Yi who blazed a trail onto the Singapore Dance Theatre stage as its first homegrown female principal dancer. Natasha Latiff who’s taken her fight to end sexual violence against women to the frontlines of a war-torn country. And Dr June Goh-Rin, who’s well-respected for her advocacy work championing women’s issues and tackling inequality.
Appreciating the femininity and strength of Piaget’s signature Limelight Gala timepiece and Sunlight jewellery collection, they share precious pearls of wisdom from their inspirational journeys, and tell us what defines the Piaget Extraordinary Women.
Lelian Chew, founder of The Wedding Atelier, The Floral Atelier, and The Atelier & Co
Leaving a prestigious, high-flying corporate career with Goldman Sachs for the “fluffy” business of wedding planning eight years ago was a move Lelian Chew clearly holds no regrets over.
From overcoming the initial stigma to earning the unofficial title as ‘The Real Crazy Rich Asians Wedding Planner’ she is today, Lelian’s inspiring story was even chronicled in the one-hour BBC documentary, ‘Million Dollar Wedding Planner’, in which the British broadcaster’s professional video crew trailed Lelian and her team across 13 cities over seven months.
“Wedding planning was such a mom-and-pop industry without much recognition, professionalism and regulations, so I felt there was an opportunity to build a company that could become the gold standard for the industry to emulate,” she recalls.
No request is too out of reach for Lelian, who dreams up multi-million dollar fairytale weddings with the most exquisite Instagrammable backdrops for her ultra wealthy clients, from securing access to private islands to orchestrating for lovebirds to get hitched under the stars or up in the mountains in awe-inspiring destinations around the world.
What people don’t often see behind the glamorous scenes, though, is the sheer hard work that makes the impossible possible.
“It doesn’t matter how talented, beautiful or wealthy you are; it all boils down to how hard you chip away at that same block of wood and nothing beats hard work, effort and focus,” she offers.
Ultimately, for Lelian, it’s not what one achieves alone that matters, but it’s how we choose to give of ourselves to others that matters most.
“You don’t have to be on stage or on TV to be extraordinary; it’s how you help the people around you grow and blossom, and every woman who has made sacrifices in putting the needs of those they love first… that’s extraordinary,” she says.
Kwok Min Yi, principal dancer of the Singapore Dance Theatre
A quarter century of dance training eventually earned Kwok Min Yi the honour of becoming the first homegrown female principal dancer at the Singapore Dance Theatre in January 2020.
And perseverance is what got her there.
“Ballet is very physically, mentally and emotionally challenging so you need the perseverance to come into work everyday to brush up on your technique and improve your artistry and your craft. And when the body is exhausted from the days of rehearsal, it’s the love you have for it that can pull you through,” she shares.
Min Yi, who began ballet at the tender age of four, is a National Arts Council (Overseas) Arts Scholarship awardee and graduate of the English National Ballet School (ENBS) in London. She has also performed internationally; in Swan Lake with The Royal Ballet in London in 2005 and The Nutcracker with The Washington Ballet in 2007.
An extraordinary woman, in Min Yi’s eyes, is someone who is “confident, independent and capable; someone who dares to take control, to do something different and to achieve what she wants.”
Take control of destiny she certainly has, and as for advice for aspiring dancers or anyone pursuing their dreams, the trailblazing ballerina has this advice: “You can never be too prepared; work hard and be very determined, and be adaptable and ready for change.”
Natasha Latiff, founder of Women for Justice Organisation Afghanistan (WJOA) and Strategic Advocacy for Human Rights (SAHR)
Receiving death threats is par for the course in the work of award-winning human rights lawyer Natasha Latiff.
For the past 15 years, Natasha has been fighting to end sexual violence against women (and men and children) through the two NGOs she founded.
As technical advisor to the Afghan government, Natasha and her co-founder, Humaira Rasuli, are leading a team of 10 lawyers and human rights defenders to change laws and policy in a fight for a justice process that’s fair for survivors of sexual violence.
“My team plays an incredibly important role in a country plagued by chaos and war. They’re amongst the most courageous people fighting on the frontlines. We’re changing laws, we’re changing policy, we’re inspiring prosecutors, we’re raising the next generation of human rights defenders and arming them with the skills, knowledge and competence to be a voice and stand against these injustices, and to carry on the mission. Every single small achievement is a big achievement because Afghanistan is an impossible context to work in,” she explains.
What compels these extraordinary women to risk their lives for such a cause?
“In life, business or human rights work, things are going to derail you from your mission but if you have a strong moral conviction that does not waver, you will be able to stand strong and steadfast in the midst of a hurricane,” says Natasha.
At its core, it’s ultimately freedom she’s fighting for.
“We are bound by our identity as human beings – whether racial, religious, cultural or age – so women’s empowerment for me means stripping down those cultural, political and material identifiers and being free to be who you truly are and standing in the power of that freedom to choose.”
Dr. June Goh-Rin, senior consultant and director of Neuroanaesthesia and Neurocritical Care at the Singapore General Hospital
Empowering women has been a large part of Dr June Goh-Rin’s life, whether via assigned mentorship programmes within her healthcare profession, or outside her esteemed medical career through her various roles as the former President of the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations and ASEAN Confederation of Women’s Organisations, amongst others.
From tackling women’s inequality and violence against women to addressing the lack of women on boards, Dr Goh-Rin is well-respected for her advocacy work championing women’s issues.
“I’m really proud to see the women I’ve mentored blossom in their careers, from medical students to now being established in their careers,” she says.
Exuding grace and humility, Dr Goh-Rin personifies a sense of elegance that extends beyond her fashion-forward style. And there is certainly much wisdom in her words.
“Confidence comes through life experiences and knowledge gained, and the only way to acquire these is by learning from others, not through textbooks,” she shares.
A truly empowered individual, Dr Goh-Rin believes, is less concerned with a show of strength, but with the humility that comes from knowing we have much to learn from others.
“We need not be afraid of showing weakness, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it,” she advises.
It’s a refreshing piece of advice, and she cautions women against unwittingly imposing the “glass ceiling” on themselves.
“Often, it’s our own lack of confidence that holds us back from grabbing the opportunity. So if your interest lies in something, be confident and just go for it. And don’t be afraid of failure because it’s always a learning experience.”
Find out more about the Piaget Extraordinary Women campaign here.