Spring brings with it the blossoming of some of the most beautiful flora, and as the seasons change, so do the beautiful collections of jewellery available to those who appreciate their brilliance.
To welcome the floral blooms that surround us year-round in the tropics, Life Inspired engaged two wonderful personalities who share at least one thing in common: their drive to make a name for themselves, and to make a difference in the industries where they thrive.
DeGem, a respected name in the jewellery scene adorned entrepreneur and emcee Sarah Lian and entrepreneur/designer Alia Alizar in exquisite pieces of jewellery. Varied stones, intricate designs and the most dazzling of diamonds were brought to the studio for this one-of-a-kind shoot.
Going Her Own Way
The jovial Sarah Lian’s presence is felt immediately upon her entrance into a room. Commanding your attention from the first word, the founder of Suppagood Talent and co-founder of Suppagood PR reclines on a low chair, getting comfortable for our interview.
With a face that’s almost instantly recognisable, having been in the business for the better part of two decades, Sarah is coming into her own as an entrepreneur, running a successful talent management business which she started from scratch, seven years ago.
“We call ourselves the Suppagood collective,” explains the 34-year-old. “I handle the exclusive management of the business, we also do influencer marketing – a lot of companies in Singapore are aligning celebrities with brands – a lot of my clients are from Singapore.”
“The company really is about branding personalities and really developing their brands in a way that is credible and authentic. It builds a business from a brand.”
The idea for the business came about when Sarah reflected on her own career trajectory, as well as the feeling that there was a gap in the market in terms of managing people’s careers, beyond just managing what jobs they landed.
Like most businesses it got off to a rocky start – there were several hits and misses in the beginning, and Sarah admits that they weren’t that successful in the first couple of years.
However, in time, Sarah’s vision seemed to be getting through to people and she didn’t throw in the towel.
“One by one I started adding people to my roster and explaing my system and how it works, I’ve seen them flourish, being on covers of magazines, working for brands they’ve only dreamed about, writing books, being on TV shows, hosting,” says Sarah, naming a few talents in her varied roster – fitness model Nana Al Haleq, host Linora Low and personality Davina Goh.
“What I do is I really manage their careers in every aspect, their publicity, social media, visibility, exposure, events, everything! We monitor everything for them. It’s something I wanted to understand and develop. I wanted to work on the system that could be applied to not just persons of the media, but slowly also professionals. We also offer media training, when you’re going to do an interview, what is the message that you want to get across?
“So branding personalities is essentially what I do, and Suppagood is a boutique talent management company – we work as agents, we find partners, people to work with, to develop.”
Describing herself as someone who can’t sit still and must keep herself constantly occupied, Sarah is also an actress, her latest movie Get Hard Tongkat Ali was screened in cinemas nationwide for a limited time but is now available on Astro Video-On-Demand.
“It’s a controversial film because it’s rated 18SX, and it’s about erectile dysfunction,” Sarah explains.
“One of the great things about this film is it really pushes the boundaries … the mature subject matter and having that able to be passed through censorship boards and have that be given an audience that’s kind of interesting,” she added, comparing it to the film The 40-year-old Virgin which stars Steve Carell.
Sarah still hosts, and thoroughly enjoys the excitement a live show can provide, saying that from a young age she has always been happy at an optimum stress level.
“I have to have 10 things going on in my life, I’ve always been self-motivated,” says Sarah, who updates her website when she feels like she’s getting idle.
She occasionally publishes short articles, introspective thoughts that she finds therapeutic, which to her surprise, have received feedback from readers.
“Little things that I write about are about understanding your culture and identity, I remember I wrote one about ‘being ready yesterday’ and a ‘letter to my 21-year-old self’, I really do get a lot of feedback, people say thanks for this, when people read it, sometimes they’re going through different things and I’m always shocked it was cathartic when people are able to identify with me, it also feels nice.”
With features as exquisite as the detailing of the jewellery on her person and skin as smooth as the petals of the roses she posed with for our cover, Alia Alizar’s sophisticated looks as well as her calm and collected demeanour are what give her photos their refined quality.
“I’m not calm at work!” insists the 32-year-old, laughing, although that’s hard to believe. The other half of homegrown brand Yadotsa seems pretty relaxed as we sit down to chat, post hair and makeup.
She is referring to her partner, Nasha Alyssa, whom she says is the calmer of the two, noting that they complement each other in different ways.
The duo are currently hard at work with the brand’s Raya collection for the upcoming festive season, as well as a collection that will be shown at the upcoming KL Fashion Week.
When The Star first featured Alia over five years ago, she was working out of a small showroom in Publika Shopping Gallery, but Yadotsa has since moved to a larger space in Bangsar.
“Our Raya collection is coming out soon. Yadotsa has always been about prints and lace, that’s our signature. It’s all about intricacies, workmanship, quality, and unique prints. For Raya, every year we always come out with different kinds of prints, and usually it’s floral,” explains Alia.
She adds that the customers they cater to prefer feminine designs, and florals are always a hit.
“This year, for our custom range, it’s very French, floral, classic. For our Zalora collection, it’s inspired by Japanese florals and birds,” says Alia. “There are cherry blossoms, chrysanthemums. That gives a very feminine feeling and the colours are blush and black print. The drawing style is inspired by lino print, which uses strong outlines in black ink and the option to leave floral details uncoloured.”
“We came up with a few types of Japanese flowers, the designer combined everything together and made a print out of it, and that’s the look for this year. The colours are a combination of soft colours and also bold bright colours. “We’ve always stuck to very soft colours before this, so this collection we have strong colours like coral and aquamarine. We’ve also used lace to make it more classic. Many people like that kind of look, it’s very ‘Raya’.”
What they have in store for KL Fashion Week is yet to be revealed, but Alia is excited at the prospect of a new print with vibrant colours.
Over six years have passed since Yadotsa was first formed, and Alia says they have found their footing over the years and are continuing to expand their customer base, while maintaining their loyal followers, who simply adore their signature lace and floral prints.
The friendship between the two founders has evolved, as the two didn’t start out as friends.
After getting to know each other through mutual friends, Alia and Alyssa decided to join forces thanks to their mutual love for fashion.
“We’re closer now, Alyssa has two sons and I have a daughter. It’s different now because we have our own families but when it comes to business it’s a different relationship,” says Alia. “Alyssa, she supports me, always. When I used to sketch or design, there were a lot of things going on in one design and she was the one who toned me down, to minimise a little. She complements me in this way … she’s the calm one.”
Apart from Yadotsa, Alia helps run her family business, a small boutique hotel in USJ 10 called Nginap Hotel.The 15-room hotel is decorated with paintings of musical icons – there’s P. Ramlee, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Britney Spears and so on, and each room has a different artiste gracing its walls.
“We target mostly business people but it’s also for people who will appreciate the concept. Our tagline is ‘We make you feel musically at home’,” says Alia, who runs it with her brother and husband.
With so much on her plate, Alia doesn’t have much time to engage in other hobbies, which doesn’t bother her much as she loves taking time out to spend with her family.
“I wish we could travel here and there but sometimes we just can’t. I relax by spending time with my daughter (who is turning three) and husband,” says Alia.
As for self-care, Alia does what she can, when she can.
“I don’t go to gyms, I don’t do facials, I jog with my husband, I’m a very simple girl. For maintenance I just do whatever I feel like I need to do. Honestly my time is so occupied.
“If I have appointments I’m at the showroom, otherwise I’m with my daughter, and my ‘me time’ would be jogging and after she goes to sleep, me and my husband, we just watch whatever is on TV.”