Kulapat “May” Kanokwatanawan, 29, owner of the incredibly popular dessert café After You, talks to BK about the sweet success of her business and explains why she really doesn’t begrudge her many imitators.

I’ve always liked eating dessert. For a long time I dreamed about opening a dessert restaurant. I was afraid someone would do it before me.

I taped cooking shows and watched them over and over again as a kid. I always enjoyed seeing the women beating eggs or whipping cream. Over time, I realized I wasn’t really into savory cooking. I just love the sweets.

Being a foreign exchange student in Australia changed my perspective on life. I was cut off from all the people I knew, which made me realize that I could do whatever I want. When I got back, I didn’t want to be just another ordinary person.

I asked my dad if I could open a dessert shop in grade 11, but he said no. He wanted me to finish a degree first, not go straight to cooking school.

There was nowhere to have dessert at 3pm. Starbucks was new at the time but it didn’t really fulfill my craving. I wanted to start a dessert restaurant, so I began catering for my friends.

I wrote a series of dessert cookbooks called May Made which quickly found a big following. This gave my dad more confidence in me, so he gave me B2 million to chase my dream. I used the money very economically. Everything possible I did by myself in order to save costs.

I didn’t plan on expanding or anything. I just wanted my business to survive, to not lose money and to be able to repay my parents.

We learned through our mistakes. I would prepare my own desserts and then serve the customers, so that I could get their feedback and learn to handle money. Bit by bit we improved. Success doesn’t happen overnight.

Running a business when you’re young makes things much easier. You’re less scared of failure. You have the guts to do anything.

I gained 8kg developing After You’s signature honey toast. From the moment I saw the Shibuya toast in Japan, I knew it would be our centerpiece. I went through 50 trials before finding the right recipe.

It would be nice to replace staff with robots. It’s pretty standard to say that dealing with people is the hardest thing about running a business. I can forgive many bad habits, but not stealing. If staff are willing to learn, I’m happy to teach them.

After You probably wouldn’t be such a big success if the first restaurant I helped my family with hadn’t failed. I was ashamed that we lost a lot of money.

If you don’t try to do something different and risk being hurt, you are not experiencing the fullness of life. You’re looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses.

I knew I was a success when people started queuing up outside. It was so dreamy. Three months before that, such a notion was just a sketch in my notebook.

Being a pioneer is rewarding. Dessert cafés like this didn’t exist five years ago and now everybody’s craving them.

It’s only natural to copy. I was a little shocked when other eateries started doing the exact same things that I do. But I learned to deal with it. No one can stop people copying, you just have to move on. Focusing on maintaining a high standard is more important.

People want to know you when you’re famous. That’s normal, I suppose. But if one day, After You wasn’t so successful and people acted differently towards me, that would be expected, too. I’d be fine because I’d just hang out with my friends, like always.

Thai people are a little strange. They’ll cheer you on when you start doing something, but once you become successful, they’ll get envious.

I’m not the smartest or the luckiest. I’ve been rational enough to run a business, and I have a great partner, my cousin, to work with, so it was just a case of perfect timing.

Logic is essential in both business and life. Having a passion for cooking and the brains for running a business are totally different things. If you love cooking, you can do it at home, but to run a restaurant you also need to enjoy the business side of things, too. I actually prefer doing business now.

I would perhaps be on the design path, if I wasn’t doing what I am now.

My parents didn’t raise me. That’s the answer I always give when people ask me about how my parents brought me up. My mum and dad just let me learn and were always there for me. They never put any pressure on me. I’m so blessed.

Experience counts for more than anything else. I graduated from a business program and it has helped on certain levels, but in the end studying is not everything.


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When the Nonzee Nimibutr-helmed erotic period film Jan Dara was released in 2001, it created quite a stir, with its frequent sex scenes pushing the bounds of Thai censorship. This year sees a remake from M.L Pandevanop “Mom Noi” Devakul (scheduled for Sep 6), which will feature the fresh-faced Mario Maurer in the lead role of Jan, a young man from a wealthy family who is caught up in a cycle of sexual abuse. The actor and model explains to BK how there’s a lot more to the movie than erotica.

Do you think your innocent looks made you a good fit to play the character Jan Dara?
My character Jan was once an innocent boy, but his life experiences and treatment as a child influenced the adult he became. As an actor, developing my character according to the script is much more important than my looks. I should be able to adapt myself to play every character I am assigned, and leave it to the make-up artists and lighting crew to make me look the part.

What did you enjoy most about shooting the film?
I love how the movie is set in the 1930s because I find the vintage setting very appealing, from the costumes to the cars and the houses. Most of the movie was filmed outside of Bangkok. The house where we mainly shot the movie is over 100 years old, and was occupied by the Japanese during World War II. I like that the film has a long history behind it.

Did anything unexpected occur during shooting?
Everyone warned me about how hot it was going to be shooting in costume. But I thought to myself, “I’m Thai and I’m not afraid of the heat.” How wrong I was. I had to wear many layers of clothing, from an under-shirt to a shirt to a jacket. It got up to around 44 degrees Celsius, and it was pretty much the hottest summer in Thailand. I almost fainted a couple of times.

Apart from the sex scenes, what can audiences expect from this movie?
The movie illustrates how behind every action is a reason. It uses sex to develop characters, and to connect one character to another. It shows different perspectives on sex, whether it’s the beauty of sex, the grandeur or the bond between two families.

How does the movie reflect Thai society?
It reflects the old lifestyle much more than today’s society. The characters in the movie use sex as a way of exerting power, which was more common in the past. People often give sex negative connotations, but back then it was a powerful and effective way to dominate a household and to produce more children to help out around the house.


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As veteran pop singer Jetrin “J” Wattanasin, 41, gears up to celebrate 20 years in the industry with four special concerts this weekend, he opens up about his early musical memories and his love for his family, including his hopes and dreams for his children.

I’ve wanted to be a singer since I was a little kid. I loved watching artists on the television, imagining myself being there one day.

While my friends played football after school, my brother [singer Jirayuth “Joe” Wattanasin] and I would hop in a tuk-tuk and go to a music studio for a jam session.

I was that crazy fifth-grader who wanted a drum set for my birthday. As the younger brother of a member of the popular band Nuvo, music has always been a big part of my life. I always wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps.

I thank God for giving me this talent. I know how to entertain people and have tons of hit songs. I am a passionate performer and my fans accept me for that.

Don’t fake or create an ideal image to be in this industry. There was a period where celebrities were not allowed to have relationships and your career ended when you started a family. But I have survived this long because I am always true to my fans and open about what I’m doing.

My children are perfect. They’re beautiful, well-mannered, and overall just good people.

It’s not difficult to imagine my kids being involved in the media industry when they grow up. After all, they have a singer father and an actress mother [Kejmanee “Pin” Pichaironnarongsongkhram]. But I want them to get the education and have the freedom to decide who they want to be.

Bad friends can lead you down the wrong path so make sure your kids hang out with good people.

Every celebrity has different strategies to promote their work. Now I have almost 300,000 followers on Twitter. Many Thai people like to make their private emotions public to raise curiosity. When I tweet, I make sure the timing is right.

I have learned different marketing techniques through spending time with my dad [Charoen Wattanasin], a long-time marketeer, over the years. He didn’t teach me directly but I have gained lots of insight from his work.

I feel my knowledge limits my career options. Education is so important in today’s society. I wish I was a better student. I could imagine myself being a doctor or a businessman investing in real estate.

Stick to what you are most capable of doing. Many people in entertainment try to start their own businesses because they are worried that their career as a singer or an actor might come to a sudden end. And in many cases, they fail.

Learn what you love to the max. I know everything about the entertainment business so sometimes I can close a B20 million deal without help from anyone else.

Life gets difficult when you feel there is no way out. I became very depressed right before marrying my wife. There were some complications in our relationship, and neither of us knew how to solve them.

I believe my wife and I are soul mates. Destiny and love finally brought us back together.

My children helped me to take care of their mother after she was nearly paralyzed [in a horse-riding accident two years ago]. We assured her that we would always be there for her.

Making it through this tough time made me realize just how strong a family we are.

Live life to the fullest, and don’t wait until tomorrow as you never know what the future may hold. My wife’s accident taught me to live for the moment, instead of waiting until it could be too late.

I want to have my own television channel focused on preparing for natural disasters. I think Thai people lack knowledge of how to act in these situations, whether it is a flood or a tsunami. I’d like the government to really see the importance of this issue.

I come from a family of athletes. My dad was a badminton champion while my sister was on the national swimming team.

I found myself a place in sport through jet skiing. It’s not a big sport but I reached the level of world champion and I’m really proud of that, though sometimes I wish I could be more like Tiger Woods or Roger Federer. They are just plain cool.

I consider myself a successful person so far as my family and I can lead comfortable lives. Now I just want to see my children figure themselves out and become successful and valuable assets to society.


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Veteran director, actor, and Yellow Shirt activist, Saranyu “Tua” Wongkrajarng, 51, is currently directing the musical Lang Ka Daeng, about a sane man committed to a mental hospital. Here he talks politics, box office flops and the dismal state of our entertainment industry.

I would draw every day and on everything I could find. I never thought that my passion for drawing could become a career until I learned what architecture was all about.

Like other typical parents at the time, mine wanted me to be a doctor. However, it was out of the question once I discovered that I was so afraid of blood. They understood my fear, and wanted me to be an engineer instead.

It was difficult to picture what the future would look like at the time when I began college. People had such little understanding of how a degree could contribute to a specific career.

No one, including me, really studied what they eventually ended up doing. I chose to study architecture because it was the best compromise between art and science.

The architecture faculty’s acting club introduced me to what ultimately became the biggest part of my college life. After my third year, I knew that I didn’t want to be an architect.

An architect’s main job is to convince people, to influence people’s taste. And I knew I couldn’t and didn’t want to do it. However, I think I tried to find issues with being an architect because my heart wasn’t in it anymore.

I was definitely discouraged by the movie Khon Khon’s low gross. But despite the disappointment, I have come to understand today’s society.

There’s no point in explaining to people that my work has nothing to do with politics. Instead, my work now focuses on a smaller group of people, who care about my work for the work itself, and not because of other factors. That’s how the musical project Lung Ka Dang came along.

I used to be devastated when my movies didn’t break even in the past. Experience has taught me to be a stronger person, to find the cause of the problem and to seek a way to solve it instead of just crying my eyes out.

To me, success is when people receive the messages I send through the art I have created. In art, you cannot bluntly say what you want to say. People need to be able to pick up on the messages themselves.

Being both a director and a producer of Khon Khon limited my ability to create the work I had imagined it to be. In Thailand, there aren’t any studios that give a director the freedom to present his messages through his art without having to worry about the business aspect. It isn’t my job to care about whether the movie will make money—that’s a producer’s job.

To live with purpose, you need to accept the consequences of your decisions. I never thought that being involved in a political situation would affect my acting career. But once it did, I asked myself if I still have the same standpoint as when I first joined; and I do. In order to live a good life, I must stand for what I believe in.

Fame does not always come from talent in today’s media industry, but from marketing strategies—how good you are at promoting yourself. In a society where everyone follows or copies everyone else, a few powerful people get to set trends and choose the fate of actors.

The industry gets increasingly narrow-minded every day. Horror and comedy movies keep coming out one after the other because it is the trend and brings in the most money. People continue to do what makes the most money, without considering whether they have sent useful messages to the public.

I want to have an education center, where I can teach little kids about acting. I want to pass on my artistic vision as it has been overlooked. I believe that the business aspect, which draws people’s attention to this industry, should be significantly less emphasized.

My children are my happiness. They are the only treasure that I have created, taken care of, and raised to be valuable assets for society.

I don’t force my family to have the same beliefs as me because I know I’m not always right. However, for a better understanding of each other, I insist that we discuss our standpoints to make sure our decisions are rational.

I believe in karma and the cause and effect of every action. It is the best explanation to life. In order to control your actions, you must first understand yourself. It helps me lead a conscious life.


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Following their grand opening on Jul 11, new nightspot Levels presents one of India’s most successful party starters, DJ Aqeel. He speaks to us ahead of his one-off gig this weekend (Jul 14).

How do you describe your relationship with the music you create?
As with anything I do in life, I put my heart and soul into producing music. All my remixes are very, very special to me, and I’m thankful to everyone who appreciates the music I play and produce.

Who are your biggest influences?
Legends like Michael Jackson and Madonna, to name just two. They’ve inspired me in every way with their music and helped me to become the person I am today.

How different is it spinning Bollywood tunes compared to international hits?
Be it Bollywood or international songs, for me personally it all comes down to having love for the music that I play.

Tell us a little about Hype.
Hype is India’s first and only line of luxury nightclubs, located in three of India’s biggest cities, Bombay, Delhi, and now Goa. They are nightclubs in the truest sense of the word, playing all kinds of dance music with state of the art lighting and sound.

Define your ideal club or place to DJ?
I love what I do, no matter where I play. I play for the people and every time I go out and hit the decks the excitement remains the same for me.

What are you looking forward to the most about coming to Thailand?
A super rocking show and having a great time.

What are three words that describe you?
Passionate, fun-loving and perfectionist.


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