Brand New Boldness: Cheryl Lee

by Susanah Cheok

Power, sophistication and luxury go to the heart of the intelligently designed Audi Q8, whose perfect drive partner is a woman like entrepreneur Cheryl Lee, Founder of Avyanna and Voices, new brands that will add exciting and positive dimensions to your life.

A deep desire to live up to her destiny is what keeps the wheels in motion for audacious Cheryl Lee, who deems herself “an ever-evolving soul seeking to find true meaning and purpose in my life”. Says the mother-of-three former journalist and Founder of Avyanna, a new-to-market brand that specialises in delicate and beautifully designed personalised jewellery, “I believe that everything happens when they do in our lives for a reason. The signs are always there, it is up to us to recognise them, open our hearts and minds to the opportunities, and learn from whatever the outcome that results.” Cheryl is also wife to Jeremy Lim, Chief Operating Officer and younger son in the family-owned timepiece retail chain, Cortina Watch.

She adds, “My life has never been constant; it is always exciting and interesting because I like pushing myself to constantly improve and grow. In my early career as a journalist, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and interview top business leaders, foreign dignitaries, entertainers and other inspiring personalities. This gave me the exposure and confidence to learn about any topic under the sun and engage in challenging conversations even if they are unfamiliar to me.”

“I then chose to become a young mum, having 2 out of my 3 kids before I was 27. I read every book I could get my hands on and took night classes in psychology to understand the psyche behind their behaviour. As my daughters were growing up and we had to organise whimsical princess and fairytale theme parties for them every year, I learnt how to decorate extravagant 2-tier fondant birthday cakes, and started doing it for friends as a sideline. That was a good $500 saved on each cake! After my 3rd child, I became interested in jewellery design and again took night classes to enhance my knowledge. Not knowing or planning that it would eventually lead me to launching my own jewellery brand, Avyanna, which is a name meaning ‘strong, powerful, beautiful woman.’”

Cheryl’s natural curiosity for knowledge and her love of a good challenge to master new life skills also inspired her to start passion project Voices, a wholistic wellness platform that she’s developing with a good friend in China. Combining Cheryl’s experience in publishing and retail, Voices is meant to serve as “a content and service platform to provide online to offline support for various aspects of our lives that tend to be neglected, such as personal growth and self-motivation.”

Much of Cheryl’s time is concurrently spent evolving Avyanna and taking it to the next new level in its genre. Says the unassuming brand owner, with striking beauty queen features, “Right from the beginning, we always wanted our Avyanna customers to feel an emotional connection to the brand. We had a community of mainly female friends who were involved in the decision behind our logo, collection inspiration and product designs, through a series of surveys. Therefore, when we finally launched, they couldn’t wait to be among the first to see, try and purchase the pieces.”

With Avyanna, Cheryl has elevated her passion for fine jewellery to a whole refreshing level, by engaging this community of like-minded Avyanna members through their ideas, evolving the brand and “taking their feedback as a guide to the directions we need to explore.  For example, we researched and proposed the symbols of 10 Nordic runes and asked our community to rate them in terms of both design, and how their meanings resonate with them. These included passion, love, resilience, perseverance, freedom, among others… in the end, we narrowed it down to the top 3 qualities to develop: freedom, resilience, grace.”

At the initial design phase, the Avyanna sound board community expressed apprehension at the resultant creations, which were rather radical, edgy and unconventional. “The feedback we received showed us that rounded shapes, perceived value, and classic looking designs are still more generally preferred. So we decided to develop our designs with these factors in mind instead,” says Cheryl.

“We also take every customer’s feedback into consideration as we begin work on our new collection. As an online business, we would like to give assurance to every potential customer that great thought has been put into every design to ensure the comfort, durability and uniqueness of each piece. It’s all part of building confidence in the integrity of our brand. 

“As our community of Avyanna women grows, we would like to highlight how everyone’s beauty is unique and diverse and how we can all empower each other with the courage to embrace our own individual journeys and lives. Moving forward, we are constantly learning from others in the industry and improving our manufacturing methods and designs. There will always be a new level, dimension and plane to strive towards and hopefully one day we can look back and see how far we have come,” she emphasises.

But what empowers Cheryl, for whom the world is already her oyster is “freeing myself from the expectations of others. I used to live my life in a way to please others and adhere to the roles I needed to play. I was contented and comfortable, but in my heart, I knew that life could provide so much more. I have since realised that sometimes a person has to take the unconventional route, not be afraid to make mistakes and be genuine and imperfect to live a full and conscious life. Let yourself dream and keep following your heart. For wherever you end up, the journey will be one filled with love, lessons and no regrets.”

Like the Q8, Avyanna encapsulates the spirit of intelligent luxury.

“Luxury has changed drastically from what it was before. An intelligent luxury brand today has to connect emotionally to its customers, show personality and empathy for its society. It has to be known well beyond its products and has to represent the values, purpose and behaviour of the people behind and at the frontline of the brand. Luxury is also highly personal. Therefore, whenever possible, it has to offer a customisable choice to make it a truly personalised item/experience. This is the approach we believe in at Avyanna. For our first collection inspired by Nordic ruins, we designed 3 symbols representing the values of resilience, freedom and grace – qualities that the modern woman can relate to. Some of the pieces are modular and can be worn interchangeably with different accessories. This makes them highly versatile and easy to mix and match according to personal style. Even our earrings are sold singularly to allow for individual expression.”

While Cheryl is the very epitome of sophistication herself, she defines it as a certain inscrutable “quality that one possesses, in the way she moves, thinks and speaks.” Her brand of sophistication must be born out of generosity and gratitude, 2 virtues that keep her in motion and from the folly of stagnation.

“To be alive is a gift and I have been blessed with much goodness in my life. With whatever limited talents I have, I’d like to use them to provide help, support happiness, beauty and hope in any small way that I can in others’ lives. That, to me, is a life well lived,” she says.


This feature is produced in collaboration with  Audi. Artwork by Curatedition, all rights reserved.

Related link:

Audi Q8: Smooth Operator

A Higher Purpose: Marie Choo

Audi Q3: Going Places


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