CAREL LEE TAN: Capturing Beauty

Carel, casual and relaxed yet pleasantly elegant.

As we welcome the Year of the Rabbit, I am sharing with you the stories of two young entrepreneurs who are products of mixed-Asian marriages, their fathers being Filipino-Chinese.

Carel Lee Tan’s mother is a Korean, while that of Andre John Cue, is a Filipina from Batangas province. Growing up in a multi-cultural environment, Carel and Andre have imbibed the best of the cultures of their parents. Outstanding in their respective fields, these two young members of the cosmopolitan set represent the most promising of their generation.

As the founder and CEO of Carel W International Corporation, the company that offers One Hectare- event venue and photo studio , and YesCarel, the Kbeauty platform, Carel Lee Tan epitomizes the young generation of achievers from cross-cultural backgrounds.

Her parents, Filipino-Chinese Elton See Tan Sr. and Korean Carol Lee Tan, have raised their children by inculcating in them the best of their respective values. Carel shares, “My father tells me to always practice perseverance and to never forget core values. My mother tells me to never give up and as long as I work hard towards my dream, it’ll come true.”

Photographs courtesy of Carel Lee Tan
Aiming for the heights with her eponymous brand, Carel.

Describing herself as “a multicultural person,” Carel explains, “When it comes to language, I am most comfortable speaking Mandarin. I love Chinese food. The Philippines is always a home to me, my soul country.”

Her values have stood her in good stead, giving her an edge in achieving success both as a student and as a professional, although she had had to take some detours. In college at the University of California in Los Angeles, for example, she couldn’t decide on a major, “and so I shifted seven times in a five-year span.”
She finally decided on architecture “because I’ve always had a passion for space, and it’s an art that truly works with science as one designs places and buildings where people can live, play, work and interact.”

Entrepreneurial spirit
That she would pursue the life of an entrepreneur through Carel is not farfetched. She explains, “I always have had an entrepreneurial spirit within me. The essence of architecture and entrepreneurship actually isn’t that different. It’s both to design and create a space, experience, or product where and which people will enjoy.”

Of course, her mother, a former Miss Korea and a fashion and beauty icon in her own right, “has always influenced me to stay up to date with the current beauty trends.” Carel, moreover, admits to following Korean skincare and beauty trends, and “my preference for Korean products has influenced me to build the Kbeauty brand YesCarel.”

What had always been obvious was that “many friends have always sought skincare advice from me. And that’s when I realized that I can really help more people and answer more of those questions by starting Kbeauty myself.

What we do is we carefully select beauty products from Korea and put them into our seasonal Kbeauty boxes so people don’t have to struggle with the many skincare choices out there anymore.

The perfect beauty and brains tandem — creative talent Carel and her beauty queen mom, Carolyn (left)
co-founder of Carel.

Targeting women of various ages
She adds, “I hope to make everyone feel as beautiful as possible, and to have self-confidence in themselves. Everyone is beautiful in their own way and I hope to help each person to maximize their beauty through our choice of products. I also hope that through our photo studio, we will be able to capture everyone’s most candid and beautiful moments.

Her company’s products serve the needs of various consumer categories. She explains, “We release four different types of boxes each year. For Valentine’s, we aim to reach women in their 20s. For Mother’s Day, it’s the women in their 40s and 50s we hope to help. For Summer boxes, our priorities are people who struggle with acne and pimples. Our Christmas boxes are generic skincare, which is good for gift giving to anyone.”

Happily engaged to someone special.

Something new each day 
Carel, as a younger girl enrolled at Fuhsing in Taiwan, was enthusiastic about “learning something new each day.” Other than being knowledge-hungry, she was also a “fan of nature” who appreciated the greenery, flora and the scenic mountains and shorelines that she saw. While in high school at the International School Manila, she enjoyed robotics and learning a new language.

Of her stint as a professional architect with Jerde, a world-renowned architectural firm, Carel recalls, “I worked on several projects, but the one I’m proudest of is the Penn Station project. We were in charge of redesigning the Penn Station in New York.”

Pop and country music lover
Carel’s lifestyle choices are noteworthy. Her favorite clothing brand, she says, “is probably Zara. I dress formal casual when I go to work and I usually wear Zara outfits.”

For recreation, she listens to a variety of music. “I like American pop music and country songs the most,” she says.

Her favorite song is “Just The Way You Are.” Her favorite actors and actresses include Emma Watson, Jim Ji Hyun and Bae Suzy.

Since the Tan family travels a lot, Carel has seen the most fascinating places, her favorites being Peru, Turkey and Dubai. She avers, “I have yet to explore many beautiful countries and I’m excited where I’ll be venturing next.”

Photographs courtesy
From left Elton Tan Jr., Carolyn, Elton See Tan, Carel, Tanyu III

All-in-one studio
Carel is hopeful and optimistic this Year of the Rabbit  As the head of her own company, she will continue to lead her  20 employees “whom we consider our own family. As in the past, I will do my best to create a peaceful and happy environment that everyone enjoys working at.”

Her company is also launching a photo studio and events space. She looks forward to “creating an all-in-one studio, one for weddings, debuts, concepts and self-studios, because we always strive to provide the best experience and memories for our customers.”

As part of Carel W’s goals, she says, “We hope to reach more people with our Kbeauty boxes and to launch our photo studio and events space which we hope will become the go-to place and venue for parties and special occasions.”


Goofing around with her love.

Branching worldwide
Carel is equally positive about conquering the international market. “My aspiration and vision are to create the number one wedding photo studio and events space in Southeast Asia, as well as for Kbeauty to be the top choice for most women. I also hope to extend my branch worldwide as well.

Being practical and wise, Carel declares that she is “still in the learning stage. And to be honest, whether it’s 10, 20, 30 years from now, I will still be in a learning stage as entrepreneurship does not have to lead to an end destination.

“There will always be a space for improvement as the world is always changing. I will always be learning and trying to keep up with trends. And hopefully 10 years from now, where my personal life is concerned, I will be a mom of three!”

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