Sunday, July 25, 2021

One on one with Dato’ Tiffanee Marie Lim

Because I had been told before the interview that she is an avid fashionista, I assumed the reason she took forever to come downstairs for the interview was because she was still dressing up to the nines.  

Finally the elevator bell rang and its doors swung open. She gracefully glided towards me, with an almost shy smile as she swayed her long hair sideways. I immediately knew it was her, there was no way I could have missed her in those trendy Yeezy 750 2015 limited edition boots and the bling-bling on her fingers and ears. For the uninitiated, Yeezy boots are a creation of America’s successful rapper Kanye West in association with Adidas. The shoes are said to have sold out on the first day they were launched, and the cost an arm and a leg. 

Tiffanee apologises profusely for showing up late, saying she slept very late after appearing on The Gloria Kgosi Show. She smells good. She looks hip and charmingly gangster. I am immediately charmed by the beautiful young lady. Her name is Dato’ Tiffanee Marie Lim. She may not be popular on our shores, but the mention of her name turns heads in Malaysia. She is the daughter of Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Lim Kok Wing, but she seldom mentions his name unless prodded to do so. The 27 year old is a force to reckon with in her own right and she hardly ever rides on her father’s popularity and success.

Driven by an undying love for fashion, Tiffanee recently launched the world’s first fashion label by a university, Limkokwing Fashion Club and serves as its Creative Director.  She actually works for her father at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology where she is the Vice President-Brand, Creativity and Talent Development.  She received international acclaim for organising the ever first fashion show by an African and Asian University at the London Fashion Week in 2012, where some Batswana showcased their designs. The fashion show went on to showcase for the first time in Indonesia at the Jakarta Fashion Week in 2014.

Her face lights up and her passion just comes to the fore when she talks about the Limkokwing Fashion Club. She doesn’t punctuate until I interject.  She is even aware Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi has also caught the Limkokwing fashion bug. “The Vice President looks cool in that cap,” she says.

She says the reception on Limkokwing Fashion apparel has been pleasantly overwhelming.  She recalled how she once spotted a lady in London wearing a Limkokwing Fashion Club T-shirt. She was in the company of her father. She approached the lady and asked her about the shirt and the lady said she had bought it during her visit to Malaysia. To her surprise, the lady was in the dark when Tiffanee said to her, “Meet this man here, his name is Limkokwing”. The Londoner didn’t know the man behind the brand. She says it showed how the Limkokwing brand was so big that people could buy the clothes without a care of who really is Limkokwing. A talented and prolific writer who has already published three books, Tiffanee was in 2009 voted the Most Promising Female under 40 by readers of Prestige Magazine. She was 21 years old at the time, making her the youngest ever nominee.  She was conferred ASEAN Master Class Award for Emerging Woman Entrepreneur of the year in 2010. In 2013, she was identified as one of the TOP 10 Fashion and Beauty Influencers by Faces Magazine in Malaysia. 

What brings Tiffanee to Botswana? The Miss Botswana pageant grand finale is on Tuesday 29 September and she had to come and represent the Limkokwing brand, as one of the sponsors.

But more importantly, she has come to support the two Limkokwing students who have made it to the finals of the Miss Botswana pageant. It’s not surprising that she would cross oceans to come and attend a beauty pageant in Gaborone. Because of her love for fashion and beauty, Tiffanee has judged at Miss Malaysia Universe and Miss Malaysia World. 

“As Limkokwing, we want to invest in the talent of our students,” she says.

While I am utterly impressed by her long list of achievements at such a young age, Tiffanee remains modest, saying: “By our standards I don’t think I’m particularly amazing. This is just the beginning.”

Her father rose from being a cartoonist to becoming a global icon of transformation and innovation, which may explain why Tiffanee may feel that her bag of achievements is just the beginning.

But what is her recipe for success? You have to know who you are, she says.

“When you know who you are, then you’ll be able to know what to give.”

She also has massive respect and admiration for her father because he rose from nothing to become a global icon. His father started his own business at 27 years. 

“I have often asked him why he ended up as an educator when he was actually an artist, and has consistently replied that he wanted to create a pool of innovative professionals,” she says.

Perhaps that explains why Tiffanee has set for herself dizzy-heights. At the tender age of 24, the King of Malaysia knighted her with the highest honour in that country; Dato’. “It really blew my socks off when I received the letter informing me of the knighthood.”

Tiffanee says she is amazed by the talent that exists at Limkokwing University. During her short stay in Gaborone, she has already met Limkokwing University alumni who are doing well in their respective disciplines. She gave a special mention to Leungo Pitse aka’ King B’ who is currently a radio and TV presenter and will also be the master of ceremony at the Miss Botswana pageant. She has a message for all the women out there; “We are more valuable than men. We are the sweet ones. We bring love to the soul of the country. We are the ones who make good people be. We are special.”

Tiffanee however says she is impressed at the realisation there is equal opportunity among men and women in Botswana.  In the middle of our interview, a peacock strolls by on the lawns of the hotel and Tiffanee jumps like a child who has just spotted her mother pulling out a lollypop. She declares her love for peacocks. They are colourful and beautiful. Well, that’s according to her because to me really, they are just the diva version of chickens. She invites me over for the Miss Botswana after- party but unfortunately my friend’s family has decided to bury their mother on the same day, far away in Maun and I must be there. We pose for pictures and say our goodbyes.

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