14 March, 2012

That Girl: Anna Treier of Sense Of Touch

14 March, 2012

This week’s That Girl is super-glam supermum Anna Treier, owner of some of Sassy’s favourite places for indulging ourselves in a spot of pampering – Sense Of Touch spas, Capelli hair salons and Fast Beauty.

We get the lowdown on Anna’s fabulous beauty routine, how she manages to stay sane in hectic Hong Kong and her top tips for emulating her business success!

Can you fill us in on your background and where you grew up?
I grew up in Manila with a Spanish background. Growing up in Manila was wonderful, some of the best memories I have were in the Philippines. I went to an all-girls Catholic school when I was in high school, but please don’t judge me to be that good, I was quite a handful when I was a teenager! Then I studied Tourism at university hoping that I would open up my own travel agency… anyhow, I ended up in the spa business!

I actually did everything backwards; I opened the spa at the same time I was studying for my degree in Aesthetics in HK. I thought I needed some serious business background and did short diploma courses in Finance and Business Management in the West London Business School in the UK and the Swiss Business School in Switzerland. I got more knowledge than I bargained for! To put everything into context, experience really is your best teacher but education is your key.

How did you end up in Hong Kong?
Where should I begin! My ex and I moved to HK together for his job years ago. I always wanted to be here, HK to me is such a vibrant city. My family and I visited here when we were living in the Philippines because it was the closest overseas travel from Manila. I first visited HK in 1984 and I remember my Dad and I went to this street and the food was hanging in the middle of the road in a string! There were skinned snakes and venison and we ate in the table right by the street – I was freaked out but I thought it was an adventure. There were rickshaws back then too by the ferry pier. The highlight of HK to me on those days was Ocean Park – they even had a big swimming pool with artificial surf waves and my love of visiting this park has now passed on to my daughter. This is my city, it’s a safe place and there’s a billion things to do here.

Whereabouts do you live? How have you made your home your own?
I have lived in Robinson Road for the past nine years; I used to own a flat in Caine Road and sold it for a good price, but the property value went further up. I have land outside HK in another country; I hope one day, I’ll build a house for my children to enjoy visiting.

Anywhere I move, I always make sure I make it like a permanent home even if the tenancy lease states only two years. I believe that no matter how long I am staying somewhere, I need to go home to a place that I built to my own contentment. Most of my friends know how clean and organised I am (plus I’m born in the Year of the Rabbit!); I value how my home looks not for others but for my family to enjoy and relax. I love candles and scents, tasteful decorative items and photos of people I value the most. Every time I see these pictures displayed in my dining room area, I feel loved and it reminds me to live my life to the fullest because of them.

Where you do buy your clothes?
In Hong Kong, I love the little boutiques in SOHO. They have stylish, hip and unique collections. I also support local and upcoming designers, they have an eye for what’s going to be the next hype.

Nothing beats the London High Street and New York’s SoHo district, Spring and Mercer Streets – the fashion’s to die for. If you shop there and tell me you can’t find anything, please shoot me! Of course, the ultimate shopping paradise would be Paris. The quaint area La Marais in the 3rd Arrondisement is heaven for boutique shops and cafes.

I wear what I think looks good on me and what I feel comfortable in rather than following what’s new this season, although I read a lot of fashion magazines and try to update myself with what is the season’s IN style.

How do you stay stylish?
I’m a businesswoman; I’m also the brand ambassador for Sense of Touch, Fast Beauty and Capelli Salon and get to face people daily. I need to be in top form, look presentable and be an example. Probably it helps that I love fashion too. I loved dressing up even when I was pregnant; I have fashion-savvy friends who are mothers and their best asset is none other than their cute babies! Even though I’m a mum, motherhood shouldn’t cramp your style and make you write fashion off. You can simplify things but still keep yourself looking fresh – perhaps re-inventing your wardrobe is one way to do that.

I used to wear high-heels even when I went food shopping! Nowadays, shopping with my daughter is fun and requires a lot of walking, so I wear ballet flats or my Roger Vivier buckle flats, skinny jeans and a statement top. Ines de la Fressange would be proud of me! I dress my 6-year old daughter to be the spitting image of me!

What is your beauty routine? How do you pamper yourself?
My beauty routine in the morning is like a whole ritual in a flash. I move fast, even my hubby tells me I’m like Speedy Gonzales!

I invest in good skin care, like the Elemis Tri Enzyme cleanser, and I use an organic eye cream from Juice Beauty’s Stem Cell Line; it’s so high tech that it erased all my fine lines, seriously! Face serums are must; I have several and my favourite is the Aromatherapy Associates Fine Line Face Oil — it’s a miracle oil! I also use Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream moisturiser and I exfoliate with Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant (it’s a superwoman’s scrub!) and apply a face masque at least once a week. Aromatherapy Associates Rose Hydrating Face Mask is a great morning-after emergency mask, especially after a night out. When you look in the mirror and you go “Eeeekkkk!”, please apply this (it also smells divine)!

I’m lucky to be in the spa business, I get access to all types of skin care products. People think my hair is high-maintenance as it looks lustrous despite being harshly damaged by years of various treatments, but really it’s all about Kerastase. Curt, our hair salon creative director is a saviour; you guys should see him at Capelli. He’s as honest as he can get. If he says you’ll look like a rag in that hairstyle, don’t get offended because he can fix it!

I go to Sense of Touch for all my treatments, especially my Brazilian Wax – it’s almost painless. Facials and nail treatments are must-do treatments. Invest some time in prepping your nails with a professional manicurist. I’m a big fan of the foot massage too and Happy Foot is my favourite.

As a businesswoman and a busy mum, how do you stay sane?
Hahaha, this is Hong Kong, you don’t stay sane!

Kidding aside, my family and friends keeps me grounded. They make me feel loved and special. My weekends with them are always fun; sharing time with friends and our kids is chaotic but it gives us a lot of enjoyment to see our children are friends together like us. I have a strong bond with my girlfriends in HK, they’re like my sisters and we protect each other. I have a very patient husband who puts up with me, and we support each other in many ways.

I am thankful for everything (even the grey days, I’m thankful for those too) and my daughter inspires me to do well in my life for I want her to be proud of me. I’m very passionate about my business. As Confucius said: Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.

I enjoy the beauty of having a career; appreciate being a wife and loving being a mum. I have so much on my plate, I guess it’s a good problem to have rather than worry about what I am supposed to do with my days. Let’s just put it this way – I will never have a boring life, I pray! I’m a Filipina; life is always full of drama!

Do you have any tips for staying organised?
I like arranging things in structured baskets and boxes with dividers. I met my match in my helper, she re-organized my whole wardrobe and threw away all my colourful hangers and bought new ones, and they’re colour-coordinated. White hangers for work shirts, blue hangers for dresses and clip-on hangers for skirts, plus she labelled all my handbags in boxes. Shoes stand neatly inside my shoe cabinets.

When people hear the word “reorganizing”, they run to the store and buy boxes and you end up with more clutter and storing more things. I suggest, re-assess your possessions and see what you no longer need but is in good condition, and donate them.

What are your favourite things to do in Hong Kong?
I love the beaches in Hong Kong. It takes 15 minutes to drive there and voila, we are playing in the sun and sand. We do that during the summer or spend the day with friends at the lifestyle clubs. Some friends are members of the Aberdeen Marina Club and we are blessed to be invited to join them, as the playroom area is like a kingdom to the little ones and on a lovely warm day, the swimming pool is equipped with a slide and a blow-up crocodile where they can jump straight to the water and play whilst I get to chat with my girlfriends.

Cyberport has a grassy area where the little ones can bicycle or ride their scooters. There’s also an open grass space by the Disney Hotel, perfect for playing ball and running. There are kid-friendly and flat hiking trails in HK, one is by the HK Parkview as a start point and the route is scenic by the beautiful reservoir; the kids can watch the fishes and you can stop by one of the picnic areas where they can have a little run around. The end point is close to Stanley, so you can have lunch there by the Boathouse and the kids can continue their playtime by the promenade. The greatest of them all, is a visit to Disneyland and Ocean Park – thank heavens for the yearly passes they sell!

What are your favourite restaurants in Hong Kong?
There’s no shortage of great places to dine here! I love all types of cuisine but I’m a huge fan of Asian food. Sushi Kuu’s delectable salmon lettuce wrap – just the thought of it makes me drool! The ever-loyal Amigo in Happy Valley; I can’t make out what their concept is… the decor looks like traditional old Europe (reminds my husband of chalets in Switzerland), and they’re serving French cuisine with a Spanish name… nonetheless, the service is impeccable! The waiters are like personal butlers wearing white gloves and are super attentive. Great food and I salute the service.

Isola is also on my Italian list, Betty’s Kitschen has wonderful beef ribs and for great Thai, Lil’ Siam – they treat me like a princess and oh, that Laab Gai, it’s like I’m eating it in Sukhumvit, soo spicy! My ultimate… I love dim sum, one favourite is Dragon-I and also the Maxim’s inside City Hall in Central. Lunch favourites are Song for the buffet and Nha Trang for fast and good Vietnamese. Wagyu and Oolaa are great for brunches especially with my daughter.

We also like The Peak Lookout because of the outdoor sitting and my daughter makes wishes in the fountain – save your pennies before going there for all the wishes!

What is a day in the life working at Sense of Touch like?
Facials, massages, manicures and Brazilian waxing – I wish!

It depends. Sometimes I start my day at one of our spas and check-up on their sales, products, maintenance, treatment rooms and interact with the spa personnel. It is important to understand how the staff feel. I’m responsible for the daily operations of the spas; I work closely with the spa staff. They are the pillars that hold our roof together. I worked in the spas and sat in the reception counter full-time for six years until we had our office. I meet various people from editors, writers, product suppliers, spa trainers and we all try to collaborate and work together, build our brands and try to be successful in every way. Nonetheless, I belong to the spas, I enjoy working there, giving customer service, getting to know our clients and their needs and guiding the spa to deliver world-class services.

What advice would you give to girls who want to emulate your business success in Hong Kong?
I started Sense of Touch way before my daughter was born. That gave me time and energy to solely focus on the business, which was crucial because the start-up part is the delicate stage.

Remember, any business requires time, dedication and sacrifice to grow and expand. Don’t do it because you’re bored or you have nothing to do or your kids are old enough and they don’t require much of your time… do it because you will make that sacrifice and make it successful. You can always employ people, but these people one day will go and this is a fact. Know your business by heart and work in your business, don’t let someone else run it for you. The success of a business lies in the hands of its owners.

If you have passion, dedication and the drive – way to go girl!

All photos in the That Girl article above were taken by the hugely-talented Sabrina Sikora of Sabrina Sikora Photography – get in touch with her at [email protected].

Check out the rest of our That Girls here!

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