This is a highly condensed version of our January cover profile. Pick up our print edition to read the full story – available in fine bookstores across Thailand, and via online subscription.
Illustrious families often expect their children to take over the family business, and these pressures can be more than stifling. No one wants to be placed inside a box their entire lives – and in this day and age, family has often become a second priority to personal dreams and goals.
But for Namthip “Benz” Cholsaipan, CFO of her family’s industrial packing company Actu-Lum, personal dreams and family duty were always in harmony. As the eldest of four children, Benz was never starved of attention.
Although her father, Nam Cholsaipan, has a busy life as owner of Actu-Lum, and so too does mother Nipa Cholsaipan, who runs the company’s finance department, Benz doesn’t recall a moment when her parents weren’t present in her life. In fact, she has so many fond childhood memories it’s difficult to pick a favourite.
“That’s a very hard question to answer,” Benz says with a smile. We are sitting at a beautiful ornate table in her parents’ luxurious Bangkok apartment. Dressed in a white lace top, she looks every bit a serious businesswoman, but her easy laughter lets a carefree persona shine through. The warmth and charm she exudes can only be attributed to a happy upbringing – and she agrees.
In spite of growing up in a prominent family, Benz is refreshingly easy to connect with. Luxury may be a constant companion, but her life has never been about ostentatious displays of wealth. Luxury to Benz is about quality and sentimental value.
Although simple in her tastes, she shares her mother’s passion for high jewellery. She confides that she and her sister always have a say in which pieces their mother chooses. They like to give their opinions so that they may borrow those pieces in the future.
“When it comes to jewellery and fine watches, I think what I love most is the fact that they’re not following a trend,” Benz says. “They’re always classic and can transcend time.”
As a modern businesswoman, good taste is very important to Benz. While she doesn’t wear jewellery on a daily basis, she often wears a piece or two at business dinners and social events to feel more professional.
“That’s why I like simple styles,” Benz explains. “Something that’s a little more classic. I don’t like a lot of details.”
Another factor that goes hand-in-hand with her personal style is the guarantee that comes with a heritage brand, assuring each piece has been made to the highest standard with meticulous attention to detail – a philosophy she shares with her mother.
They believe fine jewellery pieces aren’t just a bracelet or a necklace that’ll go out of style – they will become heirlooms that can be passed down from one generation to the next.
This is one of the many reasons Benz enjoyed attending Cartier’s Magicien High Jewellery event in Tokyo last year so much.
“It was a really fun experience,” Benz recalls. “I was also invited to a previous Cartier event in Singapore, which was great fun, but this one in Tokyo was so much bigger and I got to appreciate the beautiful craftsmanship of the pieces close-up. It really made me appreciate the craft of jewellery-making. It was a wonderful experience.”
A particular favourite of hers was the Quetzal necklace, made from white gold with a 68.85-ct cabochon-cut rubellite.
As the interview draws to a close, Benz opens the lid even more on the kind of person she is – or least wants to be. “When I was at university, I had a friend say to me there are three different sides to a person… We’re either the person people want us to be, the person we wish we could be, or the person we are right now. We can each choose which facet we want to live by. I know it sounds confusing, but it made me really think. If I’m constantly trying to do something I’m not comfortable with, then it’s going to be hard to find success in that. Similarly, if I’m trying to be something other people want me to be, I won’t find success there either. At the end of the day, I need to look at who I really am and what fits my personality the most – and be comfortable with that person. If I can do that, then I’ll find success.”
Grab a copy of our print edition to read the full story – available in fine bookstore across Thailand, or available via online subscription.