In celebration of Chinese New Year, we bring you two stylish chinita ladies that we love: Zerline Chan Ortiz-Luis and Michelle Chan. These two women are the girls behind Quirks Novelties and Curiousities, a lifestyle shop that sells unique and quirky items for the home, office, and anything in between. Aside from that, they also brought in Le Bunny Bleu, the cutest shoe store in the metro today.
Just like a most Chinese, these two girls were into business early on, but back then, it was all just a dream. After their successful stints in the corporate world, both decided to quit in 2009, thus, the birth of the very first Quirks store in Power Plant Mall.
"Quirks was born out of our love for cutesy stuff. Since we're four girls in the family, we always look at different things. And whenever we bring in stuff from abroad, almost everyone can't get enough of them. So that sparked the idea of why not sell them here? By 2009, we were able to bring in almost 8-10 suppliers. We opened around October just in time for Christmas and just by word of mouth, we were able to build a loyal following. And then the rest is history," Michelle shares.
For these two, everything was just perfect timing. And just like Quirks, the birth of Le Bunny Bleu here in Manila stemmed from a trip to Korea. "I actually thought it was a Korean brand," Michelle recounts. "After doing my research, I found out that it's actually from the US and they are currently expanding in Asia. So when I talked to them, we easily sealed the deal."
"We got the distributorship February 2013, then we opened our first store in Shangri-la July 2013 so everything was super fast," says Zerline. "It was perfect timing because Shangri-la was expanding its new wing then Glorietta 5 was also revamping, so everything just fell into place."
Curious to know more about these two? Read on as Zerline and Michelle talks to us about their personal styles and take cues on how to rock flats to work and play.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE.
Zerline: My style is polished with a modern twist. I try to inject a pop of color or patterns into my outfit to make it playful. Since I became a mom, I also find that I’ve become more practical in my clothes—definitely more flats, pants, and loose tops.
Michelle: My personal style has always been function over form, meaning comfort is my number one priority. Because of this, I’m more inclined towards boy-ish pieces like brogues, polos, and loose tops. When I do dress up, I go for classier designs rather than trendier ones.
WHO ARE YOUR STYLE STARS?
Zerline: I like the two Emmas: Emma Watson’s sophisticated classic style and Emma Stone’s cool girl look.
Michelle: Cate Blanchett because she always looks classically stunning. Emma Watson is also a fashion inspiration. She never gets anything wrong!
IS THERE A FASHION ITEM THAT YOU COLLECT? IF NONE, WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST FASHION SPLURGE?
Zerline: Not that I consciously collect them but as I grew older, I have a penchant for plain round collar and V-neck tees that fit well. They’re my go-to pieces for lazy days. My biggest fashion splurge would be bags. My two favorites are my purple Givenchy Nightingale and nubuck brown YSL Muse where I can just dump anything inside.
Michelle: I’m pretty fond of jackets and oxfords.
WHERE DO YOU SHOP FOR CLOTHES?
Zerline: I shop anywhere! International labels such as H&M, Forever 21, and Zara are favorites. Uniqlo for basics. I’ve even scored good buys at SM Department Store Ladies. Abroad, Hongkong’s Causeway Bay for Japanese trendy pieces, Bangkok which has great local designers, Singapore for high-street brands, and Paris for branded bags.
Michelle: Locally, I go for the usual spots like Zara, Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Uniqlo. Abroad, I make sure to shop at local boutiques, like Haji Lane in Singapore or Harajuku in Tokyo.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO GET READY FOR WORK?
Zerline: Depends on my schedule for the day. If I’m just going to be at the office doing paperwork, it’s pretty fast 10 minutes tops. Simple jeans, cotton tee, and an accessory. But if I have a meeting or I'm going for a store visit, it would be longer, maybe 20 minutes as I try to dress more business formal with shift dresses or button down polos paired with pencil skirts or slacks.
Michelle: Just 30 to 40 minutes. There’s really no need to fix up except if there’s a meeting. But I usually go for jeans and flats.
HOW TO YOU CHOOSE AN OUTFIT? DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR DRESSING PHILOSOPHY OR STRATEGY?
Zerline: I usually choose an item first either new shoes I want to break in or pants I bought over the weekend. It can even be as simple as a new necklace then build from there.
Michelle: It usually depends on the weather and my mood. From there, I’d choose what kind of bottom I want (dress, skirt, shorts, pants, etc.) and the rest just follows.
WHAT'S THE ACCESSORY YOU CAN'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT?
Zerline: Nothing specific but I always wear an accessory to add polish to my outfit whether it be my pearl earrings, a statement necklace or a chunky bangle.
WHAT ARE THE FIVE WARDROBE PIECES THAT YOU CONSTANTLY WEAR?
Zerline: Patterned pants from Thailand that’s super comfortable, basic black round neck from Uniqlo, Pink oxfords from LeBunny Bleu that lends a hip vibe to any outfit, Denim button-down from J. Crew that goes with skirts, pants or jeans, and Issey Miyake Baobao green tote from my mom, which adds a pop of color to everyday outfits.
Michelle: Oxfords, leggings, white polo, scarf, leather bag
NAME FIVE BEAUTY PRODUCTS THAT YOU SWEAR BY.
Zerline: Lancôme Blanc Expert spot corrector for pesky sun spots, Kiehl’s lipbalm, MAC eyeliner in dark gray (which gives a softer look than black), Chloe Eau de Toilette, Bandi nail polish in Black Cherry
Michelle: Human Nature Facial Scrub, Nyx Soft Matte Lip Cream, Too Cool for School Eye Liner, Skin Food BB Cream, Human Nature Vanilla Shampoo
NAME A SPECIFIC TREND/FASHION ITEM THAT YOU WOULD NEVER WEAR.
Zerline: Denim over-alls and those short denim cut-offs with pockets hanging out.
Michelle: Thigh high boots because I don’t have the legs for it.
Shot on location at Le Bunny Bleu and Quirks, 5/F Shangri-La Plaza Mall.
Photography by Dakila Angeles.
Click on the gallery for more office wardrobe tips from Zerline and Michelle!