In this exclusive interview, girl bosses Cindy, Camille, and Cassandra Yap share their fashion tips, must-haves, and the source behind their unique style.
When in Davao, the first retail shop that comes to mind is none other than Chimes. A shopping mecca that houses over 100 well-known and international local brands, Chimes Boutique is a one-stop-shop luxury boutique with cosmetics, fragrances, toiletries, apparel, footwear, bags and accessories, bed and bath, home, and children’s categories, just to name a few.
First established in Governor Sales last 2004, Chimes is the specialty boutique arm—owned and managed by Davao-based company Felcris Group of Companies. This same company also handles 17 Felcris hypermart superstores, 5 Felcris department stores, and 20 Davao Central convenience stores in various provinces in Mindanao—truly a business empire in the works down south of the Philippines.
Behind all this success is the Yap family. While successful in their respective fields of interest, this time, the attention is on the second-generation girl bosses of the family—specifically, the Yap sisters: Cindy, Camille, and Cassandra Yap.
Spotlight on the Yap Sisters
In a driven and highly competitive business world, it takes real guts, hard work, and determination to stand out from the rest. The same goes for sisters Cindy, Camille, and Cassandra Yap. With each one managing different aspects of the business—and in some cases, even their own—they have been busy making waves in their own way. Plus, each sister shows that they can take on anything… and look good doing it, too.
Please introduce yourselves with your name, age, and occupation.
Cindy: Cindy Yap, 42, Retailer, Chimes Boutiques
Camille: Camille Yap, 33, Businesswoman, Felcris Supermarket
Cassandra: Cassandra S. Yap, 32-years old, and an Entrepreneur, Aureo Hotels
Is there a rule about sharing clothing, make up, shoes, bags and such amongst you and your sisters?
Cindy: One of the many benefits of having 2 sisters is having access beyond my own closet, which, in principle, can actually be very exciting. However, the reality is my sisters and I live in different cities most of our lives (and have different shoe sizes), so we haven’t really been able to take advantage of this as much as we’d like to.
Camille: My sisters and I do not really share clothes that much. We have similar, but very different styles. I’m considered the most laidback among the 3 of us. When Cassey and I were living in Vancouver for college, we did share everything—clothes, bags, shoes, and even skincare. We [even] had the biggest fight on who got to keep which items (mostly shoes) when I was packing up to move back to Manila!
Cassandra: We have slightly different styles, so whenever we shop, we buy different things. But we share most of our clothes. In fact, whenever I’m in Davao, I just borrow whatever they have in their closets. I only bring 2 sets of clothes—one to go there and one when I fly back. For shoes, we used to share [them], but we soon realized [that] we have different shoe sizes, which is unfortunate. There are only 2 things we do not share: bags and jewelry. I mean, we do share [them], but they MUST be returned. So it’s good that we can share, but also bad because we’re scrambling to borrow each other’s bags and jewelry.
Whose advice do you seek most when it comes to fashion? How about for business and investments?
Cindy: Most of the time, I have a good idea of what I want to wear or go for a certain look that I want. Sometimes though, whenever I feel like playing dress-up or want to change my look a bit, I would run to both my sisters and ask their opinions, [especially] if I’m a bit unsure of the look I’ve envisioned. [As] for business, I usually start off [by] doing my own research. After that, I would get advice from my family, depending on the subject matter I need help on. I also like to discuss and get the opinion of my managers. Most of the time, they give me a fresh take on the issue at hand.
Camille: I usually ask both my sisters‘ advice first in everything—[especially in] fashion and business. I bounce off ideas with them first and then slowly approach other family members. Also, my parents will randomly drop advice here and there. There’s no formal “talk”. You have to be ready to catch them because they just come up without warning. It can be while watching TV, having lunch or when you’re being scolded.
Cassandra: When it comes to clothes, I usually ask Camille. But when it comes to skincare, makeup, and other beauty products, I definitely run to Cindy. Business or investments? I actually ask different members of my family, but the person I go to depends on what part of the business I need advice on.
Do you find that dressing up in Davao is different than when you are in Manila? Why?
Cindy: Yes. Generally, Davao is more laidback than Manila. Since this pandemic happened, I just go to the office and then back home. I haven’t really been going out much, so I think my dressing style has also adjusted a little to the situation. In Davao, I’m usually in more basic and minimalist outfits.
Camille: I dress up more whenever I’m in Manila. This is not because Davao is a less fashionable city. Davao is just more casual. I’m rarely in heels when I’m in Davao, compared to being in heels almost every day when I was in Manila. The fun part of working in retail, though, is I can wear more fashionable clothes rather than being in business attire every day. When I was working in Manila, I remember looking forward to casual Fridays so I can wear my more exciting clothes.
Cassandra: I think the difference is more on my purpose for traveling to Davao, that’s why I dress differently in Manila. Since the main purpose of my visits to Davao is to see my parents and siblings, I usually just dress in comfortable home wear, [even sometimes] borrowing my sisters’ clothes, unless, of course, we attend events or parties in Davao. Whenever I fly to Davao, I try to pack light and reserve my luggage allowance for food and pasalubong.
At what age did you start running your own business?
Cindy: I started helping with the family retail business immediately after graduating college, at around age 20. Then, a couple of years later, I conceptualized Chimes Boutiques and finally opened our flagship store when I turned 24.
Camille: Around 22. When I was based in Manila, I was in IT for about 3 years, then [I] moved to Davao to work in retail. I was quite hesitant at first to move [to] Davao since all my friends are based in Manila. But within a few weeks, I knew my personality is better suited in retail and that move was the best decision for me.
Cassandra: That was straightaway, at the age of 22. I was responsible for running our business first in real estate, then now, in the hospitality industry.
Who inspires you in the world of fashion?
Cindy: I love Eva Chen. My love for beauty and Teen Vogue during my college years has led me to be inspired by her. She pioneered fashion partnerships in Instagram—working closely with brands and designers to improve their Instagram storytelling strategies. Her overall approach [to] fashion is quite admirable. She has fresh ideas and yet remains very natural, relatable, and positive.
Camille: I have been a Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen fan since my pre-teens! They will forever be my fashion icons. I’m more Ashley than MK though. I have a folder on Pinterest dedicated to them. I also like the style of Jeanne Damas and Jenny Walton. They both look so effortless and put together at the same time.
Cassandra: There are so many. Olivia Palermo for everyday wear, [since] I think she’s so effortless and she wears clothes that only she can pull off. Victoria Beckham is another one—[she’s] so chic. I love her creativity and originality. For red carpet looks, my favorite is Cate Blanchett. She is always the best dressed for me.
How do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Cindy: I love anything about beauty, especially skincare. So I would love to do something new in the beauty industry. At the same time, personally, I would love to have traveled and experienced the world in 10 years.
Camille: Hopefully in 10 years, I’d have ticked some of these places off of my travel list—Antarctica, Galápagos Islands, and [the] Maldives. Work-wise, I have franchised a few brands that I wanna grow. My goal is to open 1 or 2 stores per year, so I should have added between 10 to 20 more stores by then.
Cassandra: I want to be able to expand Aureo across the Philippines, have our Aureo brand synonymous with a luxurious experience, [and be] known for being one of the best hoteliers.
What country would you like to first travel to when lockdown is over?
Cindy: Definitely Japan. I’ve been craving good Japanese food!!! I actually think [that] maybe, I was Japanese in my previous life because I can have Japanese food every meal for an entire month!
Camille: I really miss Japan. I miss the food and the culture. I also really miss shopping for what my sisters call “unnecessary stuff” in Donki or Tokyo Hands. I also love their vintage stores! A lot of great finds!
Cassandra: I’d like to explore somewhere I’ve never been—Germany. Although at this point, [having been on] lockdown for almost 2 years, I’d be happy to go anywhere [that] we’ll be allowed to enter.
What is the best advice your parents have given you about life in general?
Cindy: Perseverance and hard work. My parents and uncles would always tell us [about] how they started with nothing, how they worked hard, stayed focused, and they’d tell us about their hardships. So, ever since I was young, they’ve instilled in us to keep our heads down, keep working and never give up until we reach our goals.
Camille: Family is the most important thing. We are a tightly-knit family. We are loud at social gatherings and we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. We are not showy or expressive, but I am confident [that] if I need anything, my family will always be there to help. The importance of family is something that I hope I will be able to pass on to my own children in the future.
Cassandra: It’s not advice per se, but I think the best gift they’ve given me is the gift of experience. They want me to experience interacting and dealing with different people because that’s the best lesson. And for me to be able to make my own mistakes and for them to be able to teach me firsthand.
Which local fashion brand do you love or support?
Cindy: Plains & Prints. As their partner for almost 20 years, I’ve witnessed how they’ve grown and how their brand has its own identity now. Also, in recent years, it’s inspiring to see how they weathered the threat of international disposable fashion and emerged as one of the most successful Philippine brands.
Camille: These days, I’m living in loungewear. I really love Renegade Folk’s collaborations with different apparel brands. I bought almost all their styles in multiple colors, too! For going out, I’m currently loving Unif0rm’s fuss-free pieces. They are well-made, fashionable, and most importantly comfortable.
Cassandra: I like Wear Canvas—it’s simple, comfortable, easy to wear, and affordable. It’s my travel staple! I love their jumpsuits, too.
Photos by Ed Simon
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