Trailblazers, dancers, entrepreneurs, photographers—in honor of International Women's Day, we recognize some of the inspiring women in Thailand who are opening doors for future generations. This year, we will hear from Chef Pam, DJ Nakadia, designer Pipatchara, ballerina Ommi, swing dancer Young Ji, filmmaker Thapanee, creative director Pornthip, photographer Jutharat, and activist Emilie about their advice for having a good work-life balance. 

Hospitality: Chef Pichaya “Pam” Soontornyanakij

Chef and restaurant owner, including the Michelin-starred and Top Tables Potong and the BAD Award Best Bar winner Opium, along with others such as Smoked Joint and The Table.
“I’m normally very organized and always prioritize my tasks, sometimes to minute details. I believe this helps you manage overall work-life balance in my case. To other female chefs, I hope you do whatever makes you happy but stay true to yourself, who you want to become. Don’t listen to objections. There are times you are going to fail but never give up because I believe that with strong determination and relentless willpower, one can definitely achieve her goal. In April, I’m launching my newest course menu “Revolution” at Potong. This is going to be my newest innovation, creations, and tastiest course at Potong yet. Also I have recently launched WFW (Women-for-women) Scholarship & Internship together with a non-profit organization, AWC. Although we started small, I believe we can help create a better future for those female students who are in need of financial support. I hope to empower the newer generation of female chefs.  

Activism: Emilie Palamy Pradichit

Emilie Palamy Pradichit, former Lao political refugee, intersectional feminist and international human rights lawyer and founder of the Manushya Foundation since 2017. 
Honestly, my job is very demanding. Being a woman leader at the frontline of some of the most pressing democracy and human rights issues in the region—from transnational repression, online freedom to corporate accountability and climate justice—is definitely not easy. I've faced cyberbullying for years after opening Manushya, and I'm still being harassed by a few people from privileged backgrounds who don't want to see me doing the work that I do. I balance my work and life based on my needs and don't pressure myself with the Western world's standards of 'work-life balance'. I try to meditate when I can and breathe well to reduce the stress and anxiety that come with the job. I am very family-oriented and spend quality time with loved ones. I love to travel and discover the world, and I'm blessed that my job takes me around the world, meeting amazing human beings sharing similar values. To the women coming from an unprivileged background like me, I would like to tell them that I see them, I believe in them, and I support them to be the leaders the world so need, if we truly want to heal collectively, and shift to a new Earth where people sincerely respect one another as Equal Human Beings (thus, our Moto #WeAreManushyan). Stay tuned to more content and work from Manushya on shifting power and decolonisation! 

Music: Nakadia  

A techno artist who came from living in an impoverished and rural household in Khun Buri into becoming a leading female techno artist.
The only way to have a good work-life balance is to make the best of every day, whatever the day looks like. My work is my life because I basically never take a day off and I work 12-16 hours per day. Traveling, studio work, performing or staying in touch with followers—I enjoy all of it.  Advice I would give to aspiring artists is that the DJ scene has changed very much after Covid and currently social media seems to be more important than music. But my advice would be to always follow your heart when it comes to music. Be yourself and play what you love. That makes the difference and people can feel it. If you do that and you can also create a strong social media presence it can be a key to success

Fashion: Pipatchara “Petch” Kaeojinda

Designer and founder of eponymous sustainable fashion brand Pipatchara which has debuted collections in Dubai Fashion Week.
My goal this year is to work and find some personal time for myself to workout or eat things I like. Most importantly, in the past 2-3 years, I’ve really prioritized my work so I think I have to reprioritize what’s important in my life like family, partner, and health. Six years ago, I might have neglected these things, but I’m 34 so I’m trying to watch my eating and sleeping habits, and I think this will help my happiness with my work in the long run. My work relates to fashion, art, and business; as an artist, there might be some aspects of your work that you don’t want to do, so finding the right consultant to help out in areas you’re not quite skilled at can help with balancing work and give you more time to do things you’re passionate about. Pipatchara recently released a new plastic recycle collection called the “Butterfly Effect” this summer. We want to represent the idea that one person alone might not be able to create waves but if we bind together for a cause, we’ll be able to make some changes.

Design: Pattaraphan ‘Nok’ Salirathavibhaga   

Designer and founder of fine jewelry brand Pattaraphan, with followers such as, Hailey Bieber and Gigi Hadid wearing her designs. 
It’s definitely a challenge to find a work-life balance when you’re a designer who also runs her own business. But I’m a strong believer in carving out a time to rest, guilty-free. Intentionally putting some non-urgent tasks aside for the next day and setting time to do things I enjoy is important to keep a good headspace for me. I try to appreciate this restful time daily—even if it’s just an hour per day, a quick lunch with friends or an entire afternoon. Advice I would give to aspiring designers is that it’s going to work in your favor to be able to do everything from the simplest to toughest jobs. But also know that you don’t have to do everything all at once. You can go at your own pace and know that you can achieve anything you put your mind to—as long as you give it love and time. 

Dance: Ommi Pipit-Suksun

Attended the Royal Ballet School in London and became the first Thai ballet dancer and fifteen-year-old to win a gold medal in the Genee International Ballet Competition. She became a soloist at the San Francisco Ballet and principal at the Ballet San Jose. 
For maintaining a good work life balance, I believe it is important to know oneself, know what drives you and what fulfills you. Once you know your priorities, you can manage your time and achieve the desired work-life balance that is true for you. For me, my work is my passion, so I am happy to be working and dedicating most of my time doing what I love. But because I know that my tendency is to prioritize work, I try my best to schedule time to catch up with close friends and spend quality time with family. Since my work is physically demanding, it’s important for me to allocate down time for myself to rest and recharge to maintain a positive mental outlook and ensure that I show up as my best self.  Advice I would give to aspiring dancers is to always dance for yourself. Don’t dance just to please your parents or your teachers, and make sure that the passion really comes from you. Try to develop good work ethics by listening and retaining teachers' corrections and then applying yourself in class. Stay disciplined and be consistent with your work by showing up—even on days you don't feel like it. More importantly, be patient with yourself because dancing at a high level takes time to incorporate the movements into your muscle memory, as well as develop solid skills, strength, and artistry. I feel, with the current trend of dance competitions, young dancers are being asked to do a lot of difficult steps at such a young age; it’s very important for the students to learn to pace themselves. While working hard is a great thing, working smart is even more important for longevity, both physically and mentally. 

Film: Thapanee “Tha” Loosuwan

Director and screenwriter of “Blue Again,” the coming of age debut drama nominated at the Busan International Film Festival 2022
This year, I intend to carve out some time for simple happiness. I think these things will help fulfill the other areas in my life apart from work and help with my creativity. So everyday before work, I’ll find some time to cook my own breakfast. I have to come up with new menu ideas that’ll be both delicious and healthy. And eating with people I love, I think that can help get rid of the clutter in my head and give me the fire to head into work. I think we should always find opportunities for ourselves, put ourselves in the right environment, and train ourselves to have the skills so we’ll be ready to take the opportunity when it comes. This year, I’m releasing a personal project, a romantic short film, so stay tuned.

Creative Directing: Porntip “Mook” Attakanwong

Photo: Porntip “Mook” Attakanwong / Nada Nontapaoraya
Creative director and co-founder of ATT19 and Cocoon, and  co-founder and designer of -ade. 
As a creative and entrepreneur who also works with her family and boyfriend (who is also my business partner)—I won’t lie and say that my work and life is always balanced. I am always inspired by my environment, and that reflects in my work. With my days always looking different depending on my schedule, we make sure we fill in moments in the day where we can enjoy things for ourselves—such as making a stop at a gallery we want to visit when we’re in the area for sourcing materials. It’s not vain to believe in yourself, it is absolutely essential before you can expect others to. Be strong in your vision. At the same time, be flexible, accepting of critiques and ready to improve.  And lastly, be ready to uplift others to grow with you.

Photography: Jutharat “Poupay” Pinyodoonyachet  

New York-based photographer who shot the 95th Academy Awards. Her work has been exhibited in Belgium, Germany, and the United States. She contributes to The New York Times, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal. 
In terms of work-life balance, as a freelancer who doesn't have a fixed schedule, I set my own rest day each week and tried not to work too late each day. Also never forget to eat and hydrate yourself during the day. Health is the most important thing. Advice I would give to aspiring women in the industry is to stay strong with your vision and speak up to support other women in the industry.

Dance: Young Ji Kim

Swing dancer and co-founder of The Hop Bangkok, finalist and 3rd place holder in the international dance competition Savoy Cup, painter, sculptor, and mother of two young children.
After five years since my first pregnancy and raising two children, I learned to always connect with myself first in the morning. Sleeping enough is truly crucial to balance my life. When I sleep enough, I can do much more without feeling overwhelmed. Since my life is full of uncertainty, I learned to be very flexible and try to be content with imperfections; doing little by little is my approach. Try to make a small win here and there, leading up to bigger and bigger wins. When you decide to work in the art industry, many people might not believe in you at first. But trust me, there’s only one individual like you and this world needs you to be expressive. Simply be the best version of yourself instead of competing with somebody else. If you did better than yesterday, give yourself some compliments. I encourage you to believe in yourself and as long as you don't give up, one day people will recognize you as an artist. I'm planning to make more “Dancing Plants” art series in the form of paintings, sculptures, and hosting more art workshops in my art studio at The Hop on Silom.  I also have some collaboration with a clothing brand and we’ll be hosting an international swing dance event called "Diga Diga Doo" in Chinatown this September.

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