We interviewed Natira Boonsri for Prestige Thailand’s January 2016 issue. Here are a few of our favourite excerpts.
The Chirathivat Empire
It is nearly impossible to overstate how much the Chirathivat clan’s retail arm dominates Thailand’s shopping landscape. Central, Powerbuy, Robinsons, Supersports, OfficeMate, Tops, ThaiWatsadu, Muji, and finally, Zen, are all businesses that pepper its portfolio.
At the same time, this retail portfolio is in just one of several industries in which Central Group does business.
One of the most brilliant jewels in the crown of Central’s retail arm is iconic department store Zen, headed by 37-year-old president Natira Boonsri.
Her position – which gives her reign over the entire lifestyle retailer (and is actually only one of her several roles in the company) – is one many women dream of: in effect, an unofficial queen of fashion. Her other role is senior vice president of merchandising at Central; she also oversees the cosmetics division.
On being a shoe, bag or clothing kind of gal…
“Actually, all three,” laughs Oad. “I love new bags, but I also like shoes very much. Clothing as well.”
On resolutions for 2016…
“My New Year’s resolution is to become more healthy, to exercise more and eat better – to pay more attention to my diet, because in the past I have neglected it,” she says. “I focus on work, and don’t have as much time for exercise. So this is what I want to make more time for next year.”
Growing up as a Chirathivat…
“My mother has many brothers and sisters. So, though I grew up in a small family of my own, at the same time, there were a lot of relatives, uncles, and aunts because my mum is very close to her family,” Oad explains.
“When I went to school in the US, I attended Choate Rosemary High School [in Connecticut]. A lot of my cousins also went there, along with me and my sister... There were ten Thai students while I was there – seven of them from our family. I remember people asking if all the Thai people are from our family because they were surprised to see so many of us there!”
She loves to travel…
Oad is excited about her son’s growing tolerance for travel. Soon, perhaps, they can take little Oto to the UK, Europe, or Japan – her favourite destinations.
And what’s on her to-do list on her trips? “Like all girls, I like to shop!” she says. Her favourite spots are “Hong Kong, Paris, London – and Bangkok. Now Bangkok has almost everything that other cities have, almost all the brands,” she says.
And she loves to eat!
But there’s more to Oad than shopping – she reveals she enjoys gastronomy as well: “One thing that people will be surprised to learn is that I eat a lot!” she chuckles. “If I’m eating with someone I just met, they’re usually surprised to see how much I eat – I eat more than my husband. I’m a foodie!”
If it’s Japanese food she’s craving, she will head to Honmono, a sushi-focussed restaurant. For French food, she heads to Central Embassy’s version of the Water Library.
She is spiritual
And then there is her spiritual side. Oad regularly meditates at home, and with one meditation camp experience in her pocket, is hoping she can make it a regular occurrence. But more than that, as she is Buddhist, her beliefs are fuelling a dream to do more to give back in the future. She hopes to, after retirement, re-direct her life. “My goal is to devote myself to the religion more,” she says.
Watch our behind-the-scenes video for outtakes of the photoshoot with Natira "Oad" Boonsri.
Photographer: Virunan Chiddaycha
Stylist: Sarunya Ariyakul
Makeup Artist: Nichakan Sungwian
Hair Stylist: Narongsak Yiamlaengamkool
Venue: ZEN and Heaven Bangkok