#WomenWhoInspiresUs: Yuna, Li Yen, Sharon Gill & Dewi Seriestha

Honouring powerful women from different industry
By: Aqilah Najwa Jamaluddin
March 16, 2022

International Women’s Day may be officially over, but we’re over here at Glitz will always be available when it comes to celebrating women all over the world. And since we’re still in the month of honouring the ladies, we thought it would be a pleasure to introduce our readers to some of the most powerful and influential ladies in Malaysia. 

You may have heard of these names already, but it wouldn’t hurt to honour them once again and introduce them to the world by highlighting their resilience, their profession journey and the secrets behind their success. 

1. Yuna, Malaysian Singer

Homegrown singer and songwriter, Yuna, has always been the pride and joy of Malaysians ever since she blessed the nation with her song “Dan Sebenarnya”. Now living in LA, Yuna has achieved the dream of every musician; to break into the international music scene. Since then, Yuna has topped international charts, collaborated with award winning musicians, performed in front of massive crowds, and released multiple albums for her fans all over the world.

Who are the people in Malaysia that inspire your music and creativity?

I grew up admiring Ella and her music. She wrote those amazing songs and it really reflects to who we are as Malaysians and the uniqueness of Malaysian poetry and songwriting. Other Malaysian artists that have inspired me also include Ning Baizura and Dato’ Sheila Majid. Their work is very unique. These three women have their own sound and I admire the distinctiveness and individuality they had that has faded from the music industry nowadays. 

How do you usually destress after a long day? Do you have a specific self care or beauty routine for those days?

I don’t have anything specific but I do love winding down with some face masks. I do like to listen to music while I rest, without anyone bothering me with my face mask on and my mind calm.

When you go on tour, who do you look to for inspiration for your outfits and makeup?

For the longest time, it was quite difficult to find someone to refer to for my style because I am a hijabi and there weren’t a lot of people back then to kind of refer to. I didn’t have anyone to look to and think “Oh she’s wearing her scarf like that” and “I’ll style my scarf like her” so I got a lot of inspirations from magazines and Pinterest and I added my own twist to them. I went through a lot of trial and error when it came to fashion and I would try every style I found and see if they would work, photograph, as well as perform well in them. I had to go through all of that and my worst moments in fashion are all on the internet but I don’t mind it. They’re all me, I put those outfits together.

Read more on Yuna interviews here.

2.  Li Yen Tan, The Founder of Hawkr

The pandemic has shuttered thousands of businesses and caused millions of Malaysians to pivot in search of new sources of income. Including Li Yen Tan who graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in Economics and a minor in Dance, she found herself between a rock and a hard place when the pandemic struck. Now less than 2 years in, Li Yen has built Hawkr up into one of Malaysia’s fastest-growing food platforms with more than 100 home cooks on board across two states and plans to expand across the country in the near future. 

Source: Li Yen Tan

Starting off with 15 merchants on the platform, now Hawkr has expanded its way all the way to Penang. How do you feel about this achievement?

The feeling that we are impacting the lives of many everyday Malaysians now while maintaining a strong bond with them, both merchants and customers alike, is just so special that I don’t think I’ll get to experience this at a corporate job. However, even though we are at approximately 100 merchants, it means we still have a long way to go. It’s a tough road ahead but the thought of being able to impact lives directly is a constant reminder of why we do what we do.

What exactly sets Hawkr apart from the competition?

We are different from our competitors because on our platform, you may find things you cannot find elsewhere. We have home cooks selling dishes where their recipes are passed down through generations. We have home bakers who come up with cake flavours you have probably never heard of before. At Hawkr, we are constantly pushing the boundaries of what home cooking and home baking can do; starting a food business in the comfort of one’s home gives our sellers a lot more time and space to innovate, at a much quicker and cheaper rate. 

Any advice for all the chef-to-bes out there?

When you make food for people, put yourself on the plate. We really believe every chef or cook has a story to tell and it completes the dish when that story is being told on a plate. Perhaps I can also share another quality all our merchants possess at Hawkr. They are formidable in what they do and react quickly to feedback. These are the kinds of merchants that succeed the most on our platform.

In conjunction with International Women Month, do you have a message for all ladies chef / food entrepreneurs out there? Those who share the same industry as yours.

In a world full of madness and uncertainty, especially for women, you have to be your own fighter and your own “boss lady”, as I’d like to call it. There is nothing you cannot do if you put your mind and heart into it.

3. Sharon Gill, Intuitive Energy Coach & Model 

An Intuitive Energy Coach and a model by profession, Sharon Gill Ioves learning, integrating and sharing about how she can make our minds work for us to continuously grow towards the best versions of ourselves. Throughout the process she has explored various energy healing and mindset reprogramming, some she pursued further with certification courses such as Reiki, Emotional Freedom Technique and Neuro Linguistic Programming. 

You inspire so many people with your holistic health service, but what has your own personal confidence journey been like? 

In the beginning it was a rollercoaster, that’s what it felt like. My journey keeps gifting me with a whole bucket of ‘golden nuggets’ that has taught me so much about managing my mind, particularly in the practice of choosing thoughts that nourishes me instead of depleting me. I am grateful for the learnings I’m capturing and have been very blessed with loving support in the process.

Do you have any self-care practices that might surprise readers?

I tap on certain points on my upper body and touch my face a lot! Mostly because that is the technique used in Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), where I tap on certain acupoints to promote calmness and/ or help regulate my emotions.  Also, once awake I’d say ‘’Good morning Sharon, I love you’’, with intent. This is something I learned from Dr Shapiro’s book on self compassion titled Good morning, I love you.

What do you wish your younger self would know soonest? 

That I could love myself. 

What would you tell young women out there who are battling with self-esteem and social anxiety? 

If we’d wiped out the need to compare, what would our lives look like?  I’d tell them we now can choose to direct our energy by loving ourselves towards becoming our desired self and have lots of compassion in that process. Don’t be afraid to connect with yourself. You need you, best friends for life. 

Dewi Seriestha, Miss World Malaysia 2014

Dewi Liana Seriestha—Dewi Seriestha for short. Half Sarawakian, half Indonesian. She learned how to sing at the age of 2 years plus and has then participated in many competitions. In 2014, she became Miss World Malaysia and the first Malaysian to win the title of Miss World Talent 2014. Represented Malaysia in the same year of 2014 for the World CHampionship Of Performing Arts in Los Angeles in which she earned 5 medals, 1 Gold, 3 Silver, 1 Industry Awards, and 1 plaque champion of the world in Classical. 

What does self-care really mean to you and did it evolve throughout the quarantine?

I started my Master’s right before the pandemic. It was hard that I had a minor depression because every class was online, through emails, messages, etc. There were times when I gave up on studies, everything. But I was blessed, still am blessed for having such a wonderful supportive family. The situation and the family makes me even stronger than before. Everything that’s happening, there’s a reason behind it.

How has your own personal confidence journey been like? 

I always believe that If you are born with something such as talent etc, you should not waste it. We have hidden powers and talents, we just have to recognise them. I learned everyday with my father to be a better and better singer by learning the right technique etc. I learned my classical technique in ASWARA back in 2011 where I took my diploma. At the same time, I was still taking classes for modern singing with my father at home. I thank them, they are the reason why I won Miss World Talent 2014.

What do you wish your younger self would know soonest? 

Tell her to enjoy every moment because there will be no replay button, so enjoy every moment as it comes. Tomorrow is never promised.

What would you tell young women out there who are battling with self-esteem and social anxiety? 

Surround yourself with positive and successful people as they will help you to grow. Stop staying or living in the same situation where it doesn’t make you happy and grow. Always believe that you are as perfect as you are and have faith in whatever you do in life. 

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