Interior Designer & Entrepreneur
It doesn’t come across as surprising when Su-Quinn Teh described Blair Waldorf, the Queen B of the hit series GossipGirl as one of her early fashion influences. But don’t misunderstand, Su-Quinn bears no similarities to the scheming Waldorf but rather connects with the latter’s sense of style which was often reminiscent of a Hollywood celebrity from the golden age of cinema.
Even as a child, Su-Quinn was often dressed in frocks — a term that is lost in today’s world — paired with Ferragamo headbands. Today, her classic style remains as she points to Jasmine the New York socialite played by Cate Blanchett in the film Blue Jasmine as her fashion inspiration.
“Quaint and romantic,” she says, when asked about her fashion choices. “I am typically described as being classic and well-coordinated.”
At times, perhaps, a little “stuck” in her comfort zone as she remains consistent in her choice of outfits. But that’s perfectly fine, as Su-Quinn is certainly not one to follow trends. To her, fashion is a “creative expression of personality an emotion.” It is this individualistic aspect that led to her being spotted by photographers when she was just 16, resulting in some modelling work. She also appeared in the work of Australian director Bernie Zelvis.
“One should never try to dress up as someone else because you lose your sense of originality in the process,” she says. “I think it is very interesting how clothes were created for functional reasons but are now a form of expression.”
Now, she adds, clothes have meaning. What’s important, she says, is to be confident and comfortable in your clothes.
The constant evolution of the fashion world also demonstrates our ability to change, to improve and push ourselves further over time. That is the beauty of life.Su-Quinn Teh
It is a point of view that is perhaps a little unusual for a graduate in accounting and finance. Su-Quinn does admit she took a somewhat traditional path academically. Upon graduating, Su-Quinn worked as a stylist and buyer for David Jones, something that was more aligned with her interests. Later she ventured into interior design and floral arrangements, to further develop her creative spirit.
Her interest in interiors began early when she used to wanter into the decor section of Laura Ashley, then located in Suria KLCC. While living in Melbourne, Su-Quinn recalls spending hours along Church Street in South Yarra, going through interior stores like Koko Lane, French & English, Maison Living & Provincial, while she redecorated her family’s homes.
She had been tasked with refurbishing a couple of family properties with her mum which cemented her interest in interiors.
“My mum and I decorated a few homes together which eventually flourished into a hobby and now a part-time job,” she explains.
Later, her husband, Lip Jin Teh, encouraged her to pursue her passion in floristry by enrolling in floral arrangement courses at Jane Parker in London. Soon after, Su-Quinn joined forces with a friend and started the florist Ever Bloom. Now, the mother of twin boys, she does floral arrangements and interiors on a project basis.
For Su-Quinn, it isn’t as simple as a rose smelling as sweet by any other name. Instead, she describes each flower as having their own distinct personality.
“Each flower is very special on its own,” she says. “The way it moves or the number of petals it has. No floral arrangement can be 100 percent the same and there can be many sides to an arrangement. I love how there is always something to stimulate my mind.”
Each florist, she says, has their distinct identity which results in a specific way in the flowers being designed.
“It can be more green and garden like, more romantic, more flamboyant or modern or just a clean, classic look filled with leaves. It is a pretty straightforward journey from there. Once you have identified this, as long as there is a right balance of colours, textures and sizes, the arrangement will definitely work.”
“People don’t realise how tedious and time consuming it is to make floral arrangement,” she adds. “For instance, how the length of each stalk and direction it points to can transform the entire look of the arrangement.”
There is also a specific thought process where interior projects are concerned. It usually starts with a theme, from there the rest will unravel.
“Once there is a sense of direction I can visualise the entire length of the space,” she explains, “where to put the main furniture, the type of wallpaper for the feature wall and whether I would go with chandelier, lamps or wall lights.”
However, as a young mother, Su-Quinn is more focused on spending time with her boys, Chad and Casper Teh. This also means she spends quite a bit of time in her favourite room, the nursery, formerly her husband’s wine cellar, which she transformed after discovering she was expecting.
“I spend a lot of time in there when I was heavily pregnant and now reading stories to my kids and playing with them,” adding, “each day has become more meaningful with a sense of purpose. My sons are the last people I see before I head out and the first people I look for when I get home.”