November 29, 2011
Polished and accomplished
Celine Gabriel, entrepreneur, newspaper columnist, fashionista
Celine Gabriel epitomizes every fashionista wannabe's dream. Her classic good looks matched with an air of innate gracefulness, a bag of makeup tricks, and a wardrobe full of slick designer wear give one an impression that if ever there is a Filipina version of those glammed-up Gossip Girls, she would be queen bee. Unlike those malicious (and often shallow) TV characters however, what her friends love about her is that beneath that polished exterior, Celine is inspired, inspirational, hardworking, and has a good heart to boot.
She is definitely not the type of pretty girl that one would call PDL or "pang-display lang". In fact, she wears several stylish hats on her head. For starters, she has her own boutique PR Company called ARC Marketing and PR that specializes in beauty, fashion and lifestyle-driven products/events. She also runs a weekly column in a newspaper, is program director of the Modern Academy of Image, Culture, and the Arts or MAICA, and has a store in Davao called SUNLAB, where they cater to a young market, selling shirts, flip-flops, bikinis, notebooks and other novelty items. "I'm very proud of Sunlab because our capital for the store was so small… and today, at six years old, it's still considered one of Davao's most popular stores. That's quite a feat!" she said.
She also does styling work for photo shoots, although she says she has to put this part of her career path on hold because of other commitments. "As a stylist… I think I could have really pursued this career if I had really wanted to, but it's not really something I do a lot anymore as I'm too busy juggling a lot of clients for my PR company. But if the project is really interesting, I'll still do it. I'm very picky. The last styling gig I did was for an LA-based magazine. Before that, I did an HIV awareness campaign that had 75 celebrities in its roster. If it's challenging, or if the project is meaningful, then I'll do it," she explained.
Fashion and Passions
Her latest venture is a line of bags called Gabriel*Martel, which, she says is her favorite "hat". "I really enjoy everything I do, but I've been dreaming of creating my own brand for many years now and Gabriel*Martel is the culmination of years of research, conceptualization, planning and hard work. It's all very exciting because we just launched our brand and we've got big, global plans." She shares that this projects really keeps her on her toes.
"For Gabriel*Martel, I am co-creator and that means I collaborate with my partner for everything—design, marketing, quality control, PR, you name it!" She says this bag line was born out of serendipity. "It is something I've been thinking about for years. During my off time—vacations, when I'm stuck in traffic, etc.—I would conceptualize the brand. During my free days, I would research and meet with manufacturers. Then one day I was out with some friends and one of them, Andrea Martel, was carrying a beautiful wooden bag that broke towards the end of the night because of shoddy craftsmanship. It was a light bulb moment. The next day, I told her about what I had been working on and proposed that we make beautiful bags of excellent, global quality. Luckily for me, Andy, who has a great passion for fashion and the arts, loved the idea… and thus Gabriel*Martel was born."
With all these ventures, one would wonder if she always planned to have a career in the beauty and fashion industry. So it came as a surprise when she revealed that, as a child, she wanted to grow up to be… a teacher!
"In fact, I taught autistic children while I was in college and another time I taught art to children ages six to 12. I like working with young minds and I feel I can learn from them just as much as they can learn from me. Perhaps it's something I can go back to doing in the future."
Her current contribution to the world of academics is through MAICA. "Modern Academy was born out of my own desire to help people explore their own talents and hone their skills. My own small way of giving back to a world that has given me so much opportunity. We only have a few courses that we're running right now because we want to grow slowly with very specific courses that are not offered anywhere else in the country. One of the more popular courses we have right now is called the Business Dashboard which is a course designed for young entrepreneurs. The course will teach you to create, deliver and capture value for your business."
She was, though, in her own words, already "super kikay" when she was younger. "I started experimenting with makeup (lip gloss) during fifth grade. By seventh grade, I had learned the magic of blush and the lash curler. I'm not ashamed of being kikay. Caring about how I look is part of how I got to where I am today. I believe that how you present yourself to the world is a mirror image of how you want the world to treat you—and in my case that is with respect."
That is why she encourages other Pinays to reach for their lipstick, too. "I notice that some Filipinas don't want to put make up or dress nicely because they feel that people will perceive them as maarte. I think that's sad. For me, dressing up well and putting my best face forward is the armor I need to get through the week. It's amazing how feeling good and being confident can do wonders for work and life in general."
She does have her say about fashion victims, though. "On the other side of the spectrum, I'm not a fan of being a slave to trends. It's just not me. I experimented a lot with fashion when I was much younger; sometimes I won and other times I failed. Nowadays, I prefer to stick to my own style that I feel works for me, my body type and my lifestyle. For example, I move a lot during the day so I'm not the girl who can wear heels to work. No way! But at night, that's a different story!" she smiled. She graciously shares her tips on looking your best, all the time. "The most important tips for me would be… know your assets and embrace your flaws, know what colors and prints flatter you, always choose quality over quantity… and invest in statement accessories—wow them with kick-ass shoes, jewelry, or my favorite, an exceptional bag."
She also shares her routine for looking fit and fab: drink a lot of water, use moisturizers, take multi-vitamins and supplements. "I try my best to eat right, I get at least six to eight hours of sleep every night, I exercise three to four times a week (yoga, Plana Forma, or Core Kinesis), and I schedule a weekly massage and a monthly facial. Plus I laugh a lot!"
Finding Her Prince Charming
Celine is currently enjoying her life as a newly-wed. "I had the wedding of my dreams. A beautiful, English garden-inspired formal champagne and high tea reception at The Conservatory, Peninsula Manila. I had the most beautiful flowers all over the place. Everything was perfect, and I felt wonderfully calm, happy and extremely loved, surrounded by our dearest friends and family," she said.
And she describes her happily ever-after as, "Absolute bliss! I highly recommend it. I always tease my husband that had I known how happy I would be as a married woman, I would have said "yes" sooner!" she laughs. She likewise shares that she had to go through some frogs, to find her prince. "I've dated quite a few bad boys and had been in so many roller coaster relationships (Don't all girls fall for the bad boys at some point?—she quips). Funnily enough, Matt looks like a bad boy. He's got the tattoos, he trains in mixed martial arts—everybody thinks he's scary tough, which in truth, he actually is. Just not with me. With me, he is generous, doting and sweet. My whole family adores him… and mind you, they never approved of anyone else I ever brought home. That's how I knew he was the one. To all the ladies, let me tell you, from the girl who had to learn the hard way… your parents really know what is best for you!"
She doses out some advice for girls who are still in search of their own princes: "My Lola Flory—who was married to my Lolo for 65 years by the time she passed away—always used to tell me, 'Pray to God and ask for a good husband', which is something I took to heart. In the meantime, don't wait! Just go about your business and your life. Whatever you are doing, if it's meant to be, he will find you. And when that time comes, I swear you can run… but you cannot hide!" she laughs again.