Nice is such a hackneyed word, overused by lazy people who can’t be bothered to think of a more precise one, or so my high school English teachers would have had me believe. I remember exercises where we were supplied with a dozen or more sentences using “nice” and had to use context clues to replace every one of them with a supposedly “better” alternative, turning us into walking, talking thesauruses. My more “mature” readers might even remember the trick to using the original thesaurus, Roget’s, before the computer era began.
But strive as I might, I cannot find a better way to describe Khun Ploy than as a truly nice person. She is sweet without being saccharine, genuine and transparent, kind and thoughtful: a very attractive woman who is comfortable in her own skin, and who would like to see more people happy just being their true selves, without the need for pretence. Ploy’s beauty is internal as well, shining from her like a beacon, and permeates to the depth of her being.
Ploy brimmed with emotion as she told me about her family and happy childhood in Si Racha in Chonburi province. Her single mother was a hard-working business woman who took care of her parents diligently and was progressive in raising her only child. Ploy was able to discuss anything with her mother and knew she would always have her unconditional and total support. This strong, female role-model had a pivotal place in Ploy becoming the adventurous, determined woman she is today. It was clear to me that Ploy’s mother had a modern parenting style when I learnt that Ploy is a confident swimmer, not just freestyle, but breaststroke and backstroke as well. So, Ploy has skills less usually found in the Thai population. You might be surprised to also learn she is an ardent skier and likes to drink her favourite German Riesling accompanied by vanilla ice-cream.
Embracing the mantra that life is too short to worry, Ploy pursues her dreams without delay, and without overthinking, though she is a careful planner and a superb organiser. She attributes this passion for stepping out of her comfort zone to the premature passing of her mother at the incredibly young age of 47. In hindsight, Ploy can see that her mother sacrificed her own dreams and ambitions to raising her daughter and looking after the needs of her parents, and left this world without achieving all she wished to, particularly in relation to international travel. Ploy is determined that the same fate not befall her and dearly wishes she could turn back time to give her mother more hugs, kisses and love.
According to Ploy, her greatest life achievement so far is that she is living exactly the life she wants. She is still challenging herself to refine her focus on her latest project, her recently opened wine club, Wine Bubble and Berry, so that she can achieve a more sustainable work/life balance. Ploy is a self-styled workaholic, with a mind that races continually. She is trying to prioritise herself, and her relationship with her German-born husband more, to be more mindful of the need for self-care, even while working in a demanding business environment.
Ploy is no stranger to the heady and powerful world of big business. Her university education in Thailand left her with a Bachelor of Business Administration, before she spread her wings and challenged herself with undertaking a Master’s degree at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia where she graduated with a qualification in International Business. Her resume includes working in Sales Strategy for Tripetch Isuzu Sales, a truck manufacturer when fresh from university, Mercedes-Benz (Thailand) in a business development role where she was the Ambassador for Diversity Projects and with Suzuki Motosales Corporation Thailand – Motorcycles where she was the General Manager, Marketing. Interspersed with this there was an extended working holiday in Los Angeles where she took on less glamorous roles at Universal Studios making pizza and selling ice-cream and soft toys, and also a 2- year stint working in the ice-factory which was one of her mother’s business ventures. All these jobs enabled Ploy to develop sound interpersonal communication skills. She is genuinely a “people person”, so it has not been too big a step for her to become an entrepreneur and establish her own business in Hua Hin, but it has come with an accompanying sacrifice.
Ploy has enjoyed drinking wine and learning to appreciate its huge variety of styles and tastes since she entered adulthood. So, it came as no surprise to me that with this interest, her husband is a qualified Sommelier who works in Bangkok. What was a surprise, both to him and me, as the listener to this story of romance, was the fact that Ploy was attracted to Hua Hin for the establishment of her wine club. Hua Hin holds such happy memories of idyllic holidays on the beach, surrounded by extended family and lots of love. At the same time, the diversity of the Hua Hin community and its growing transportation links making it more easily accessible from Bangkok also called to Ploy. So now, less than 5 years into their marriage, they live apart during the week, though they spend each weekend and holiday together. Indeed, her favourite place in the world is wherever she is surrounded by the love of her family and friends.
Ploy has found help and support from her husband invaluable in setting up her business. He has the technical wine knowledge, while she takes care of the consumer side of the business, bringing into play her skills in marketing, hosting and promoting, ensuring a strong start to her fledgling business which now employs 3 staff who are being trained by Ploy to her exacting standards. Ploy is committed to providing her customers with a premium service at a very reasonable price, even though it means limiting her profit margin.
A quick glance around Wine Bubble and Berry is enough for anyone to see that Ploy has a great eye for design and detail. Exhaustive research accompanied by inspired vision and the architectural skills of a schoolmate have all culminated in a beautiful, cozy environment for meeting people over a glass or two of premium wine. Not bad at all for someone who claims that although it was her favourite school subject, she was never any good at Art.
Ploy aimed to express her passion and sense of self in designing the club space. She wanted more than simply a comfortable bar venue, she aimed to forge a feeling of community and a safe space for single ladies to relax with a drink. Ploy’s customers include local regulars who enjoy the wonderful ambiance she has created, along with the weekend and holiday crowd from Bangkok, amongst them a good number of personal friends who visit regularly. But you don’t have to already be Ploy’s friend to enjoy her establishment, as every guest is treated as a potential new friend. Ploy is lively, loving and fun, and it would be very easy embracing her as a friend. Ploy has 2 valued new friends, Malbec the dog and Merlot the cat who often visit just after her 9.30pm closing time.
Never one to rest on her laurels, Ploy recently undertook a further challenge in collaborating on an event with a condominium complex near Pranburi Forest Park with two local chefs, where she was responsible for the wine pairing of the menu and the use of the long table to encourage conversation between all attendees.
Enabling and encouraging the formation of connections between disparate individuals is arguably Ploy’s most potent skill. She has a strong interest in the promotion of happiness and is currently reading a number of books on the subject. Ploy confided that her 10- year goal is the establishment of a foundation providing scholarships to study for students in more remote parts of Thailand who are required to live away from home to achieve a good education. She is only too aware of the varying standards of education provided by different school systems and will always be grateful for the opportunity she was given to study internationally, which she credits with developing her confidence and self-reliance. To this day, Ploy is comfortable with her own company and appreciates the time to think and reflect that solo travelling can provide.
The daily usage of social media is a necessity in modern business, but Ploy has reservations about its impact on young people, who are bombarded with unrealistic and often unattainable portrayals of what constitutes beauty. When visiting a primary school in Krabi, she was dismayed to find even children of this tender age labelling themselves as dark or fat or ugly. Ploy has the ability to look into young people, and to offer herself as an accurate mirror, allowing them to find and radiate their own beauty. As human, we need to acknowledge the beauty that is found in diversity and self-acceptance, as it is a crucial step towards personal fulfillment. Thanks so much for the lesson in happiness, Khun Ploy. Now, another glass of that wonderful white?
My next interview subject might just be able to straighten you out.