Coralie Charriol Paul hadn’t been to the Philippines for many years, and the trip here in early October was especially poignant.
Growing up in Hong Kong, she and her brother Alexander often visited the country with their dad, Charriol company founder Philippe, and their mother Annick, to see friends and business associates, the Tantocos of Rustan’s and SSI Group.
As adults, they came on business trips with their father, after taking on roles in the family firm.
Paul’s trip to Manila, with her mother, her brother and his fiancée, was sentimental—their patriarch Philippe died in a racing accident in Marseille, France, last February, and they were here for a memorial being hosted by the Tantoco family.
It was also Paul’s first visit as executive chair of Charriol, concurrent to her role as creative director. Her Los Angeles-based artist brother is now art director and director of licenses.
At a media lunch hosted by SSI Group president Anton Huang at Manila House, it was clear Paul inherited her dad’s convivial and charming nature, his candor. Philippe Charriol had the reputation of being the life of any lunch or dinner, solicitous and outgoing. Paul has that same spirit—effervescent, genial, even touchy-feely.
Quizzed by Lifestyle on the future of Charriol with her at the helm, she feigned surprise and said, “I don’t know yet!” followed by a laugh.
“I have worked for 20 years in the company,” she said. “I did many jobs under my father’s guidance. I was in PR, I did promotion, I did design, I did even sales at one point, to marketing and many different things. So I feel I’m prepared to be the chairman. I think, with my brother, and CEO Ludovic Lesur and our team, we’re going to take what my dad created, take the core values that he established and bring it to today’s world.”
Paul, who studied art history at Tufts University in Boston and was Charriol vice president at the time of her father’s death, recently uprooted her young family with husband Dennis Paul from New York to Geneva, where Charriol’s headquarters are.
Founded in 1983, Charriol today is known in over 60 markets for its line of fine watches, jewelry and accessories, and its signature cable motif. Its late founder often said that it’s in the Philippines where there’s greatest recognition for his brand.
“The cable will always be there, because that is our signature,” said the lady boss. “That is what we are made of. But we’ll be using it in innovative ways. The whole world is also changing because people are buying differently. We’re online but we’re still supporting our brick-and-mortar stores, because they’re still important. And then we’ll continue to build the image, create another story, maybe a different story, but based on what Dad established and what he created.”
Paul, as creative director who was in charge of jewelry, had for years expanded on the Celtic bangle created by her dad in 1986, which became an icon for Charriol.
The unisex Forever bangle she created is marking its 10th year and can now be personalized for gifting. Customization, she said, takes a few weeks.
“It’s more addressing how they shop, and listening to what they want,” she said of the millennial and Gen Z markets. “You cannot please everyone. The cable is a very unique design; you either love it or hate it. You just really need to create a brand image that people will connect to, and feel that it’s relevant for their every day.”
She added, “The excitement is to be the leader of this family company, to fill my dad’s shoes and take it to the next level. I’m a woman, and I’m a mother, so there’s a lot of pressure.” Paul has two sons and a daughter, age 12, 10 and 5.
“I’m putting the pressure on myself because we do have a great team, and we’re a very established company. The pressure is more about not doing exactly what Dad did, but taking what he did to the next level. So those are the things that are the real challenge. I’m a woman and a mother, so it’s a bit harder. But yeah, we’re gonna do it, too! There are many powerful women here in the Philippines, and I know they get me here.”
Paul, with her husband, is also a film producer who cofounded React to Film, a nonprofit that creates documentary films supportive of her various causes: sustainability awareness and wildlife conservation.
On this visit, she hosted a sneak preview of “The Story of Plastic,” in which the Philippines is shown as a “solution maker” even as it also one of the biggest users of single-use plastics.
An avid surfer, Paul is involved with The Lonely Whale, an organization engaged in developing ideas for ocean conservation. She has designed a watch called Ocean Forever, with a rigid ink-blue and rose-gold steel cable bracelet and a mother-of-pearl dial that pays tribute to the sea turtle; a portion of the sales will go to efforts for ocean conservation worldwide.
Asked if film producing will now take a back seat to her new role at Charriol, the tall blonde’s pretty face contorted into a grimace. “No! I’ll do everything at the same time and hope to not drown,” she said with a chuckle.
“I mean, you don’t know how long you’re here on this planet. Don’t wait. After losing Dad I learned that you really can’t wait. He did it all—he raced cars, he had a business, he had a family. He loved life. He didn’t wait to do anything. He died as he lived, with so much passion. We all have to take a page out of his book: Be courageous and live life one day at a time.”