The “strata & shophouse queen” Sammi Lim: Young, successful, fashionably stylish

We speak to the fashionable young Singapore-based Director at CBRE, about her take on styling up for work and play

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Sammi Lim has accomplished what many people in real estate might take a lifetime to achieve. The 31-year-old has secured real estate deals worth about S$5 billion since she joined CBRE, while many young professionals her age are still carving out a career path.

Lim says that those in the real estate circles have termed her the ‘strata and shophouse queen’. She made her mark when she discovered there was a gap that needed to be filled. When most of her peers were focused on other sectors, she decided early that she would focus on deals ranging between S$1 million and S$100 million to establish a niche focus on the strata commercial and shophouse sector. As it turned out, that decision was spot on and business in that segment has clocked record revenues.

Lim developed an interest for real estate when she was in her mid-teens. She was attracted to the fact that a career in real estate would allow her the freedom to set her own rules and cut her own path. “Being in the real estate agency line allows me to combine my interest for property and put my passion for service into full synergy at the same time” she says. She joined the industry after she graduated from university and has clearly thrived since.

Aside from her 12 years worth of experience in real estate, Lim attributes part of her success to the relationships that she painstakingly builds with her clients; who are mostly from countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Australia, Korea and Japan. Through the years, her clients have become firm friends. She reckons that her “energy, enthusiasm and pro-client approach to handling sales” are key to successful deal making.

“Be diligent, be consistent, be genuine.” Lim said, when asked about her formula for success. “Put your head down and work hard. Have faith in your convictions and the determination to follow through. Never wait for things to happen, make them happen for yourself.” she added.

With this impressive track record, one is likely to think that Lim is a no-nonsense corporate hound but in fact, she’s far from that. The charming and dynamic young director at CBRE – one of the world's leading commercial real estate services firms – is not all work and no play. She’s been known to attend social soirees and is striking for her natural sense of style.

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Professional and polished at work

Just as sharp in the style department, Lim professes that looking polished and professional at work is a must.

Lim defines her fashion style as “comfortable”, “feminine” and “sleek”. The young professional makes it a point to strike a balance and will often mix and match her outfits. “In my line of work which is in the real estate industry, we have to present a professional and polished outlook. When I style myself for work, I like to go with fashion-clean-and-classic lines. They never seem to date and you never get tired of them. Due to my hectic work schedule, I reckon that’s an easy way out for me.”

She adapts to the ever-changing trends and themes of the latest seasonal collections and tries her best to incorporate her own style into the latest trends.

“Sometimes I play around with different combinations each season, and it’s actually a good way to refresh my look, and update my style. I try to keep a good mixture of classic pieces, like black leather pumps, black slacks, and pencil skirts, and I also mix in pieces from current trends.”

Lim’s must-have item in her wardrobe is a black blazer – specifically a well-tailored one that accentuates her body shape and gives her a defined waistline. She thinks that it is feminine, a classic, and can be paired with anything from jeans and dresses, to shorts, trousers and skirts.

What would she cave to, between bags or shoes? “It would certainly be bags!” she says, without hesitation.

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“I am a big fan of the Hermes Kelly bag. I love the stunning iconic design and how versatile it can be to complement a range of looks, outfits and occasions.”

Lim’s favourite colour for her clothes, bags and shoes is black – which she believes is an easy choice and elegant especially when she has to run a hectic schedule for work. It gives her a sense of empowerment, and confidence in her work.

“Recently, I started to enjoy playing around with colours like bright red, blue, orange and even pastel tones. I realised that incorporating more colours into my attire somehow enhances my mood positively, energizes me and also seems to be well received by others.”

She stays in the style loop by looking through fashion spreads, magazines, latest look books, and watching what her peers are wearing. But she doesn’t copy the looks wholesale, like a cookie-cutter. Instead, Lim bends the new trends to her will and adapts them to her own personal style.

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Her favourite designer labels

Lim’s go-to labels are Hermes and Burberry, lauding Hermes for its consistent and trustworthy construction of bags and accessories using nothing less than the highest quality leather. “They are so lasting and evergreen – and they just get better and softer over the years of usage,” she said.

As for Burberry, she described it as having a “rich heritage” while still maintaining its “British traditions” and “spirit”.

Is there someone that she admires or perhaps looks up to as a fashion icon? Lim is inspired by Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway, for her strong sense of style, grace and beauty, and courage to experiment.

Just like how she is “not afraid of hard work and loves challenges” in her career, Lim is not afraid to express herself sartorially and loves experimenting with her personal style. “Real estate is fast moving and faced paced, it’s ever changing. You’re never really doing the same thing twice. Each property is different, and each buyer is different. There are new things to learn and intrigue me every moment.”

Sammi Lim’s style tips for young professionals

- Start with a simple look, and build thing up along the way
- Be creative and don’t be afraid to mix and match
- Stay current. Look through the latest fashion spreads
- Don’t copy looks wholesale, add your own flair

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Photo credits: Zaphs Zhang, Wong Weiliang, Darren Chang

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