During an interview published in Prestige Thailand's November 2015 issue, Preerati "Toey" Bhirombhakdi spoke about her passions and her career. Here are our favourite excerpts.
On her passion...
Aerial Factory studio, 32-year-old Toey Bhirombhakdi’s baby, is an aerial hoop and silk studio she founded with a few other instructors and partners one year ago. She teaches here in the mornings, making seemingly impossible manoeuvres that require splits and gymnast-level upper-body strength look effortless.
“I’ve always liked exercising. I switched things up from yoga to Pilates to Cross-Fit, for instance... then one day my friend showed me a picture of someone who was doing aerial,” she reminisces. “That was three years ago.”
On her work at Singha Life...
Preerati's afternoons are spent overseeing Singha’s lifestyle brand, Singha Life, where she has the position of brand manager. (Her family owns and manages the mega-business Singha Estate, headed by her father Santi.)
Singha Life is not the source of the ubiquitous Singha singlets donned by tourists (and worn ironically by locals). The offshoot lifestyle brand sells high-quality men and women’s fashion, ranging from button-downs with quirky details to T-shirts. They are a contemporary-yet-classic blend of streetwear and office chic, some of which are emblazoned with Singha design elements that echo their beverage counterpart’s logo.
“I try out the products and give them feedback from a person who really uses the sportswear, and doesn’t just model it. It might look nice, but you need a function to serve its purpose too,” she says.
“I’m the guinea pig, which is a good thing. I say, ‘I like this!’ or ‘Let’s try this!’. With the street wear, I like to give my two head designers their freedom of creativity. With the brand being Singha, sometimes we also have a strict guideline of what we can do, and with what we cannot do.”
On being a hybrid...
Growing up in Bangkok, she attended NIST International School before going to the US for a Bachelor’s degree. Toey earned a fine arts degree from California’s Pepperdine University (with painting and sculpture as her specialty). Then she attended Chulalongkorn University’s renowned Sasin Business School and earned an MBA. Several years ago, she also attended a one-month Fashion Marketing course at Instituto Marangoni in Italy.
More recently, Toey attended talks at Sripatum University’s Academy of Business Creativity, where highly sought-after business and creativity leaders give speeches. Eager to to continue to learn and be inspired, she is attending the next course in April 2016.
As a result, she’s a rare hybrid of creative artist and business executive – with an emphasis on the creative side.
On finding her place...
Athletic, assertive, and with a hint of devil-may-care attitude, it’s clear that Toey is no shrinking violet. Whatever hobby she falls in love with, she pursues. It helps that she was treated as a younger brother, not a delicate younger sister, by her elder siblings, Bhurit and Piti. “When they were younger, they were such bullies!” jokes Toey. “As we got older, they became very protective – though they try to say they’re not...”
Lately, not content with mastering the air, she’s gone under water to discover another passion: diving. Late last year, Toey took some of her first dives in – of all the places – the Maldives. Of the trip’s 17 scheduled dives in the paradisiacal, world-renowned dive site, she didn’t miss a single dive; she even spotted a whale shark. “You wake up, you dive. Breakfast, you dive. Lunch, dive. Dinner, then sleep,” she says.
“I never thought I would like it this much. I love drift-dives where you drift in the water. You are just floating. It’s kind of like you are flying,” she says. She wonders aloud if her idyllic first brush with diving in the Maldives will have “ruined” her later experiences – she’s headed to Indonesia next, and then the Galapagos Islands, joining a liveaboard and also camping on the islands as well.
While the busy executive and aerial instructor fills her days with her two main positions, during the weekends, you’re as likely to find her at home as outside. “I love to be with people, but I also love to be by myself.”
On the rest of a lazy Saturday or Sunday, she’d rather go out for a cup of coffee with friends than do a big outing. Sometimes, though, she wanders down to her gym, unrolls a yoga mat on the floor, and just lays there – it’s her time to reflect.
“I try to live a healthy lifestyle,” she says. “I balance my days, with working out and eating clean – or at least as clean as possible...I read a lot of [health and nutrition] books – whether I follow it or not, it’s a different story,” she laughs. “It’s important with how you look, and it’s important to take care of yourself,” she says. “After all, beauty comes from the inside.”
Watch our behind-the-scenes video of Preerati Bhirombhakdi's photoshoot with Prestige Thailand.
Photographer: Vacharasith Wichyanrat
Photographer’s Assistant: Rattapoom Boontha
Stylist: Jantima Smithavej
Makeup artist: Nichakan Sungwian
Hair stylist: Narongsak Yiamlaengamkool
Venue: Calibre Pictures & Ideas Studio, Singapore