Career and purpose run deep in the veins of wellness advocate and The Chaless Wellness and Beauty Founder, Anna Flores “I grew up surrounded by career women,” she begins. “Some of the elderlies in our family were successful back in the days when women were expected to stay home and be home-makers. They were not your stereotype women. They were strong and influential. I came from this gene pool.”
Beauty and wellness is also second nature to the mother of three. Formative years spent performing on stage taught her early on to prim and groom herself. When Anna moved to Hong Kong 20 years ago, she saw the potential for creating beauty and wellness hubs. She created a space and treatments that suited the grooming and beauty needs of both men and women. This was in 2000s, a time when the term “metrosexual” was only beginning to gain traction in mainstream culture.
The year 2021 marks a new chapter in Anna’s journey as both entrepreneur and wellness advocate. Last August, she opened a new wellness concept, The Chaless Wellness and Beauty. When it comes to building spaces for wellness, she advises, “Great things come from small beginnings. That is how the spa empire I created came about—out of bravery and perseverance and my love for beauty and this industry.”
- What keeps you busy these days?
I have a new spa project that we just launched this August 2021. This new beauty and wellness place defines me at this stage of my life. I named it The Chaless after my 3 childrens’ names combined. The Chaless Wellness and Beauty specializes in customized facial treatments together with an advanced skin analysis to help clients understand their skin health and what are the necessary requirements to help improve their beauty routine, improve skin health and their wellbeing. At the moment, I am doing everything by myself; I am meticulous and want everything quintessential.
In the mornings, my top priority is my children. My children are very young and need assistance preparing them for their day. School is opening in mid-August; my children will be in school the whole day. My eldest child recently started boarding school. A very sad moment, I could not imagine where time went by.
- How did you come to find your current career or life’s work?
I grew up surrounded by career women. Everyone in my family worked. My grandmother was a music professor, my mother worked in a bank and as a property broker. Now, she is a semi-retired entrepreneur. My sister is a head manager in the most sought after construction and development company back in the US. They are all my sources of inspiration.
I was exposed at a very young age to grooming myself in salons and beauty centers. I patiently watched dermatologists in Manila perform facial treatments on my mom. A masseuse and a manicurist came to our home every Sunday.
I also sang for a choir at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and danced with the prestigious Bayanihan Dance Philippines. So at a very tender age, I was already grooming myself. When I moved to Hong Kong 20 years ago, the first order of business was to find a beauty center to suit my needs. To my dismay, it proved a challenge. This was when I found my calling.
I then opened a day spa. Here I saw the needs of women and men in Hong Kong for a relaxing place where they could escape and beautify. I also saw the interest of men in grooming and wellness. I created a business where I saw the potential of growth in the beauty industry. I created and built a business from scratch. It was a business everyone understood, but no one took the initiative to develop at that time. Under my wing and leadership, I managed to open multiple spa operations in Hong Kong.
- What is it about your work or career that you enjoy most?
I love the operations part which is the heart and soul of the beauty and wellness business. It is the most rewarding as you take care of people. Your top most priority is the client. We nurture and look after their needs. My employees’ wellbeing, their grooming, attitude and professionalism are closely monitored and the team is fully trained. For the wellness space, I ensure that every little detail is in place--hygiene is crucial, the feel, ambiance, scent, décor and the overall look.
- What do you consider to be “hazards of the job?”
Managing your own business can be stressful and worrisome. Every element is crucial from the finances down to legal matters. Since I am in the customer service beauty industry, I manage people and their expectations. I feel responsible for them and their wellbeing. Training and guidance are keys for a harmonious work relationship and that is no easy feat. We work on skin care products; I have to ensure the products we offer are top quality, safe and effective. Delegating is a skill and one must never spread themselves too thinly.
- For women who aspire for similar careers, what would be your advice?
As Confucius said: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. Do not focus too much on money, work hard, enjoy and money will flow. Do not count pennies; always look at the bigger picture.”
When you open your own business, every day is a day at work. I was not prepared for this at all. In 2002, when I opened the spa business, I did not have a background in business management and I had no formal education in performing beauty treatments. I navigated my way by doing everything backwards.
In the evenings, I studied beauty therapy. After a year, I received my beauty aesthetic diplomas. I attended every seminar needed to enhance my knowledge. I enrolled in short courses and I went to study business while I was managing the spa business.
If you believe you have the guts, the courage and willingness to learn and accept the challenges – take the leap of faith. Great things come from small beginnings. That is how the spa empire I created came about—out of bravery and perseverance and my love for beauty and this industry.
- What are the career milestones that inspire you to break the glass or mold?
When I started to garner recognition locally and globally. The spa business I created, an independent spa, was recognized and awarded by various magazines and wellness experts. We were cited for best spa, best treatments, best new ideas. I was featured in magazines, and the spas were featured on TV. International publications and organizations also invited me to be a speaker for panels. I was even in the panel for the South China Morning Post’s Game Changer. I thought that was very cool.
- How do you balance work and family life? What are activities that enable you to bond with family?
I have three children. When I gave birth to my first, I was back at work within 36 hours of labor. It was the same for my third child. My children look up to me. They know mama is hard working, and I will make sure they learn good ethics.
The spas were also my children. They even demanded more of my time than my own children. But still, the children remain the top priority. We’d travel together on school holidays for uninterrupted bonding moments. We love the beach. We also enjoy going to the cinema or bike around the playground. Bed-time stories are an adventure at home. I like telling them my story with slight exaggeration to make it sound exciting.
There are days dedicated to working and days when the family needs more time. What’s important is to know how to embrace life’s imperfection. Then you begin to feel a sense of balance.
- How do you unwind or rewind? Any favorite spots in your current city that you consider as your me-time haven?
Me-time is spa time. I am a foot-massage-aholic. If I have just an hour a day to spare, I would have one. I also love a good facial treatment. Facials are essential as it stimulates the lymphatic system, improves skin health and relaxes.
In 2020, I began doing hikes alone, starting from mid-levels up to the Peak. For an extra challenge, I go all the way to the High West, where the view of Hong Kong and Kowloon is spectacular. I also like having lunch by myself in quiet places like Madam Fu in Tai Kwun in Central. They have a lovely sitting by the outdoor verandah, where you can watch people. For quick meals, Pici is a staple. For a nice breakfast or brunch, I head South-side to indulge in delicious pastries by Pane e Latte in Stanley. There is also a chic café in Gough St called Grain of Salt. On a beautiful day, I like to sit outside Sevva and marvel at the skyscrapers of Central.
- How would you describe your personal style? What are three your wardrobe essentials?
My style has changed. Nowadays, I’ve been drawn to chic and slightly understated pieces in earthy tones. It goes well with the current theme of the pandemic: low-key, quality investment pieces.
Wardrobe essentials include: a blazer, pair of jeans, and a classic white men’s shirt. Carolina Herrera paired her white shirt with a jet-black ball gown skirt. She accessorized it with vintage gold jewellery, or with pearls and a pair of jeans and it transforms the whole look into casual elegance.
- What makes for a good investment piece? Kindly cite examples of pieces in your current wardrobe.
One must have a versatile leather belt, a good timepiece, and of course, a pair of pearl earrings and a single strand pearl necklace. It conveys understated elegance.
- What do pearls mean to you?
I associate pearls with elegance. I see Grace Kelly—strong, powerful yet soft and tender. Pearls are delicate feminine beauty yet strong and resistant like women. Pearls have an exotic appeal to it. Whenever I wear my pearls I feel empowered, beautiful yet delicate.