8 February, 2012

That Girl: Elle Lee, superstar PR & social butterfly!

8 February, 2012

This week’s That Girl is the gorgeous Elle Lee, superstar PR by day, social butterfly by night (and all times in-between!). There’s nothing about social media that this girl doesn’t know – so who better to clue us in on the upcoming Hong Kong Social Media Week, which is being held from 13-17 February?!

We take a sneak peek inside Elle’s ultra-covetable wardrobe, get her top tips for Internet shopping, her insider scoop on Shanghai and find out why we should all be on Twitter!

Are you and your family originally from Hong Kong? Tell us a bit more about your background.
My family and I are from Shanghai, and my family is still there. I was born and raised in Shanghai until the age of 11, then my parents sent me to UK for education. In between, I went to summer schools in the U.S., and Australia as well. I graduated from Imperial College London, and YES, I can be a bit GEEKY sometimes.

My parents are the typical Chinese ‘tough love’ parents you’ve all heard of, just they are even tougher! I started my boarding school life at the age of 3, and have become very independent ever since.

Between going to school and travelling around the world, I’ve worked as a model/artiste/emcee/writer/volunteer and landed my first full time job in fashion/art industry. Now I work in PR and specialise in social media/digital.

Where do you live? How have you made your home your own?
When I first moved to Hong Kong, I stayed in Tsim Sha Tsui, but I have since moved to the Mid-Levels, it feels more relaxing and quiet.

Like most flats in Hong Kong, my flat is not big. I knocked down the original two bedrooms into one, so the flat feels bigger and more spacious. Then, I assembled most of the furniture in the flat including bed, closet, sofa bed and drawers. Some people like putting puzzles together; I like putting pieces of furniture together! In that way, I really feel like the home is mine.

How do you describe your personal style? How does it evolve and change?
I believe my personal style can be summed up as ‘Less is More’. I prefer designs that are clean, well-made and stand the test of time.

Imagine a mash-up between the craftmanship of Oscar de la Renta, the feminine subtlety of Lanvin, the uniqueness of Maison Martin Margiela and the creativity of Nicholas Kirkwood – mix those with my East meets West background and you get an idea of my personal style. Or do you?! Haha, I wouldn’t say I am a brand worshipper but sometimes the higher price-tag does equal quality. I am also a keen player for mix & match; high fashion meets high street/vintage.

I’ve never been one to follow trends, and I’m a firm believer of ‘Fashion fades but style remains’. When I was younger, I was mostly into black and dark colors. But as I grew older, I gained better control of colour; now I am comfortable in a wide spectrum of shades!

I dress according to the occasion, the season, my mood and makeup.

Where do you shop in Hong Kong? Any secret finds you can let us in on?
I like shopping in SOHO, I’m always surprised by the amazing items hidden in the boutique stores in the area. There is this great boutique called Beatriz da Silva, which designs and produces superb couture dresses.

I hit Lane Crawford, Joyce and Harvey Nichols when I am lazy.

I would recommend the Causeway Bay area to those who also like high street brands like I do – Jack Wills, I.T, Forever 21 and many more! Sheung Wan is good for those on the lookout for unique vintage items. (There is a really cool boutique on Western Street, which sells vintage and independent brands collected globally by the owner’s wife. The owner himself is a famous hair stylist, and your hair is safe in his hands! But be aware of the sky-high price!!!)

But even with all the places to shop in HK, I still find the easiest place with the most choice and best prices is ONLINE! I take advantage of Hong Kong’s free tax policy, shop on NET-A-PORTER and get the lowest price choosing Hong Kong as the shipping destination.

Shopbop, Gilt GroupeThe OUTNET, ASOS… to name but a few that I hit up on my Macbook Pro whenever I get the chance.

What are your must-have beauty products? Where do you go for hair/nails/maintenance?
The Clarisonic sonic cleansing system is a must-have for me when it comes to skin cleansing. If you haven’t tried it, you HAVE to do it now!

I always have Le Mer’s The Concentrate with me for those urgent situations. It’s a ‘all-saver’ product for me! Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair and SKII Facial Treatment Essence are my two daily essentials for anyone wanting good skin. My recent obsession is with Cle de Peau! They might all seem pricey, but are definitely value for money! Dare to pair those with new technology home beauty tools to achieve the maximum magic! (I am currently using the Bliss Pore-fector gadget.)

I don’t have a fixed location for my maintenance, I just do it at any available places when I can find time. My hands are usually pretty good at doing my personal simple maintenance work! Nonetheless, Dragonfly, Nude and Sense of Touch never disappoint me.

What is your favourite thing to do at the weekend?
Usually I like to have the weekend to myself. A little ‘ME’ time, so I tend to ‘free my face’, do yoga and go hiking on the weekend. Most of the time, a good book – fiction or on business with a caramel latte – seem heavenly as everyone else experiences ‘weekend chaos’!

What are your favourite restaurants and bars in Hong Kong?
I’m quite a foodie, so it’s really hard for me to only name a few. My favourites to treat myself are Sevva, Amber, Zuma, Bo Innovation and Mo Bar. I like the atmosphere and style, which remind me of places in London and Shanghai. However, California Vintage on Hollywood Road and Life Café on Shelley Street are my most frequently visited spots.

You’re heavily involved in Social Media Week (SMW)  can you tell us a bit more about it?
SMW started in New York and Cohn&Wolfe-impactasia brought it to Hong Kong for the first time in 2011 to great success! It’s a whole week of conferences and events that cover all aspects in social media; there are topics that cover the very basic 101 of social media, topics that target businesses and non-profit organisations, and there are opportunities for like-minded talent to share ideas and experiences.

The events are not expensive, not filled with geek-speak, and aren’t only for professionals! If you have a blog about your cat, your favorite wonton shops or even if you’ve never blogged before – you’re invited! We hope every attendee can learn something new, interesting and useful from SMW Hong Kong.

Why do you think social media is important? Should everyone be on Twitter?! Is it just a fad?
Social media is important because it’s essential in daily communications – for business AND personal life.

On a personal level, social media helps each of us to be connected, no matter where you are in the world. You can be face to face with your beloved ones with just one click and without spending a penny (Ok, maybe electricity!). On a business level, companies cannot just bluntly splurge money on ads anymore. They have to listen to their consumers and spend more time to engage with them. Overall, I would think it benefits the public more and requires businesses to work harder.

To call it a fad is like calling the television or the internet a fad – I see social media more as an evolution of how our social lives and technology collide and help us build stronger relationships past a simple phone call, email or even networking drinks.

And NO, you can’t just be on Twitter! You have to be on Facebook, Weibo, Instagram, Viddy, Youtube, LinkedIn and many more. YES, not an easy job to maintain; that’s where my expertise comes in!

Who are your top five Tweeters?
I like reading @OscarPRgirl and @bryanboy about fashion, @PennOlson for digital/social media news in Asia, @Mashable for digital/social media news globally, and @Jingdaily for luxury market news in Asia.

You’re always so busy with events and parties – any tips for aspiring social butterflies?
To be honest, I don’t go to parties/events unless they are work-related and I actually spend more time behind my desk coordinating them! I feel for the amount of work that goes into an event by everyone involved; from the PR to the caterers to the clean-up crews.

My #1 tip for all social butterflies: be authentic – online and off. Do what you like and be who you are. Read and learn more, so you will be confident to speak when the time comes. Treat others with your whole heart, and don’t burn bridges. You never know what’s going to happen in the future, and who might be able to help you in the future.

Where are your favourite travel destinations? What are your suitcase must-haves?
Santorini in Greece, London in the UK, Venice & Florenz in Italy, and Shanghai in China are my top four destinations, which I would always go back to visit. But my all-time dream destination is Egypt, which I hope to conquer this year! Then maybe Morocco, Turkey and Cambodia. I have been living in cities all my life, so I am more fascinated with more historical destinations.

My travel must-haves are a long scarf that can double up as a dress/long skirt, toothbrush and toothpaste, a maxi dress, a pair of my favourite Gross & Cutler sunglasses and my PASSPORT!

Is there anything you miss about China? Can you give our readers the scoop on any of the must-visit places in Shanghai?

I miss the SPACE! I know most people think China must be crowded all the time; however, it is also quite big. There’s new infrastructure, design, landscape, roads and even flats are big (much more cost effective than the flats in HK!).

Visit Jade Garden if you want to see the old side of Shanghai.  Xin Tian Di & Tian Zi Fang are both chic chill-out places built and revamped around historical buildings. Go to the French Concession to enjoy a unique area where Shanghai meets Paris.  Go to Xin Le Road and Chang Le Road for boutique shopping; No. 3/9 The Bund and Flair at The Ritz-Carlton Pudong to enjoy the best open bar view in Shanghai!

Or if you are someone like me, who is always trying to discover new spots, just let yourself get LOST in Shanghai and be ready to be surprised!

What’s your life motto – in 140 characters of course!
My motto since 1999 – ‘Happiness matters the most!’

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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