The heiress of Lim Kok Wing University, Dato' Tiffanee Marie Lim
Dato' Tiffanee Marie Lim doesn't believe in labels. You are whatever you want to be.
When it comes to living up to expectations, Dato’ Tiffanee Marie Lim is no stranger to having the bars set sky high for her. The daughter of Tan Sri Dato’ Lim Kok Wing has been taught to believe she can achieve anything she wants from when she was a mere child, the same philosophy that is applied to the education system at Lim Kok Wing University where she currently presides as director. It is a mantra that has served her well over the years, as the 26-year-old was a vision of beaming confidence and warm smiles when we sat down for our late afternoon interview in a cosy café on the grounds of the university.
Dato’ Tiffanee’s name is never mentioned without that of her father’s following closely behind. Behind the renown of the man who singlehandedly spearheaded the creative arts education industry in the country and the glamour of the Lim Kok Wing brand, however, is the story of one driven young lady who has her own fair share of contribution to offer to the world.
“I’ve been surrounded by the arts since I was born,” shares Dato’ Tiffanee, who also completed her tertiary education at Lim Kok Wing University of Creative Arts. “I can never be a mathematician or a chemist. It has never crossed my mind.”
Mathematics and science may not be her areas of particular interest, but when it comes to the arts, she has been more than willing to experiment. The young lady wears many hats despite her tender age – she is a writer, fashion designer and now, an enterprising businesswoman, all rolled into one.
“I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve also always wanted to be a designer,” she states matter-of-factly. “My parents are both very talented and I’ve always wanted to be like them.”
Torn between the two, she decided she wanted to have it all instead of settling for just one. What resulted are her two books written and published when she was still in school, titled ‘Inspiration’ and ‘Magic’ and most recently, the Lim Kok Wing Fashion Club line of clothes.
“I was still a student when I wrote those books,” reminisces the ambitious young lady whose dynamic spirit burned bright as she spoke of her literary venture. Incidentally, the plot for it was something she drew from her own confusion of being in a place that was as good as foreign to her. Having been plucked out of London to come home to Kuala Lumpur for college, she was thrown into the deep end to start her life over in a completely new environment. Instead of letting her uncertainty consume her, she turned it into literature.
“I started making new friends and I started realising that they are really interesting people. They all come from really far away places. It made me wonder why are they here? Why did they choose to come here to study?”
The questions soon turned into the premise of her first book, ‘Inspiration’, and before long, a second book followed. “I interviewed over a hundred students for ‘Magic’,” she divulges. “They taught me about humility, they taught me that there was something here that they could not find abroad. That is magic.”
Following that, the enterprising artist in her refused to be stopped. A few years later, she is at the forefront of creating something new again, this time, something she holds closer to heart – clothes.
“Fashion has always come very naturally to me,” she imparts. “It wasn’t something that I chose to study. I just notice clothes.”
The Lim Kok Wing Fashion Club was born from her keen eye for “noticing” what works and what doesn’t in an industry that can be as vicious as it is shallow. Yet Dato’ Tiffanee more than skillfully waded through those waves and surfaced triumphant.
It started out innocently enough, as a small project featuring alumni T-shirts and caps that students can bring home and call their own. It grew very quickly to become a standalone store on its own, featuring complete lines of jackets, tops, bottoms and accessories, with its flagship outlet standing loud and proud in the middle of Publika, KL’s newest premier lifestyle mall.
“We’ve had the idea for a long time. We’ve always wanted a fashion label but I didn’t know how to translate my drawings into solid clothes. That slowed us down. I wanted to champion it but I couldn’t find my footing,” admits Dato’ Tiffanee, who not only founded the label, but contributes as a designer as well.
With a little guidance from Tan Sri Dato’ Lim Kok Wing himself and hours after days after months of sheer hard work, it finally took off to a great start. Names as big as Vogue started taking notice of the designs and Lim Kok Wing Fashion Club’s recent collection premier fashion show saw a full house in attendance. Today, the works of Lim Kok Wing’s fashion students can be seen walking down some of the runways of Kuala Lumpur’s biggest shows alongside fashion houses and brands that have been in the business easily twice the lifespan of the university effort, all thanks to Dato’ Tiffanee’s vision.
Clearly, if there is anyone who embodies the fearless and dynamic spirit of the Lim Kok Wing brand, it's Dato’ Tiffanee herself. Never hesitant to try out something completely new, she has turned everything she tried her hand at into huge successes. Armed with an enthusiasm that is highly contagious and a quick wit and keen eyes for opportunity and potential, the world is her playground, as it it is to anyone with a little creativity and imagination to spare.
“A lot of us, when we’re young, we don’t realise the opportunities that are presented to us,” says Dato’ Tiffanee in regards to her fearlessness. “Tan Sri (Lim Kok Wing) taught us to take the opportunity now. Don’t wait. Take it and make it something you can be proud of.”
She maintains that daring to go beyond your boundaries and expanding your comfort zone are the only ways to fully live your life and reach your potential. Echoing her words are her actions, the proof of the determination of one young woman who wants nothing more than to make her own name in an industry she can be truly proud of. "You'll be amazed with what happens when you're pushed. You never know unless you try."
“Labels don’t matter,” reminds the feisty fashionista cum writer cum entrepreneur as we come to the end of our interview. “You can be whoever you want to be.”