The case of good skin
By Shaan Bajaj
I clearly remember my first visit to the courts as part of my LLB degree – watching barristers make their case in front of the judge was truly fascinating. What fed my passion was the fact that law is built on the principles of justice and fairness, both of which are essential to keep society functioning. So as a current holder of an LLB degree but haven chosen not to follow a legal career path, I was incredibly excited to talk to Pattamon ‘Safia’ Kritpholwasri, who spent 20 years as a lawyer before her career diverted and she started selling an organic skincare brand called Curaloe.
Born and raised in Bangkok, Safia comes from a family of business within real estate, imports and exports. She attended Assumption Suksa School and Triam Udom Suksa School before completing a bachelor’s degree at the Faculty of Law at Chulalongkorn University. She went on to study in the US and returned to complete a master’s degree at the Faculty of Political science, Public Administration, in Chulalongkorn University.
Her enthusiasm and passion to help people, first in the legal field and then by helping those like herself who suffer from sensitive skin issues, was evident when she sat with Masala to talk about her expertise within the legal industry and her new venture into the skincare field. As we bonded about the struggles of sensitive skin, she brought out one of the creams for me to try, explaining the benefits of using the aloe vera-based skincare line, while also delving into her professional journey till date.
What inspired you to pursue a career in law? What triggered the switch to skincare?
When I was in high school, I started thinking about what to study at university, and I was unsure because I liked many things, such as accounting, home design, Thai Language, and writing. However, I chose to take the entrance exam for law because I had always seen my father consulting lawyers. Whether it was business related, real estate, investments, or wills, it made me realise how lawyers are involved in all aspects of life. If I became a lawyer, I could help my father with everything and it would save him from paying the lawyer fees.
Once I started studying at Chulalongkorn University, I realised that I had made the right decision and I enjoyed what I learnt. Legal language is almost like learning another language, one that I have to learn to translate as well. I had to write a lot – to the point that my hands used to ache! But as someone who enjoys writing, I really liked it.
After graduating, I worked as a legal advisor then a lawyer at Dr. Ukrit Mongkolnavin Law Office before working at Nitipeerachat Law Office as a partner lawyer. I was also invited to host a TV programme called 3 Young Lawyers, which was broadcasted on Channel 5. The show educated the public via a questionand-answer style of talk show to make it more engaging.
Although I enjoyed my career, I have to admit that lawyers are very busy; we work until it’s dark and over the weekends. After marriage, I continued to work as a lawyer until I became pregnant. Once I became a mom, I took a break from the company to spend 100 percent of my time to care for my son. I felt the schedule of a lawyer was not suitable for me as I wanted to spend time with him. As he grew older, I started looking for something new rather than becoming a full-time lawyer again. That being said, I still maintain my legal knowledge and act as a counsel for my husband’s group of companies, and also my own family and friends.
A while ago, I came across Curaloe by accident. Actually, my husband, Nash Purswani, told me to try this brand, as it was organic and could help my skin. I have struggled with skincare since I was young, since I have sensitive and dry skin, to the point where my skin would peel. If it was left untreated, it could quickly become inflamed. I used to constantly be on the lookout for suitable skin creams, ones that I am not allergic to and can instead help my skin. With Curaloe, my skin visibly improved after a few uses. I was very impressed as it is a natural cream, not a drug. I eventually ordered every product to try, and /I used them for more than six months. Finally, I talked to my husband about importing Curaloe to Thailand and selling it here. I want others to be able to benefit from these natural products too.
How have your experiences shaped who you are today and your approach to your career decisions?
Working in the legal field is actually a lot of fun. People tend to think that being a lawyer
involves only dealing with other people’s problems, but that’s not always the case. I have been part of many good things too, like joint ventures and new businesses. Whenever a client comes to consult us, they may be stressed, but as a lawyer, we must remain calm, neutral, and listen to the facts. By being exposed to many different cases, I have been able to learn a lot from other people’s lives. It has made me more mature, calm, and able to solve problems, in Curaloe and beyond. However, sometimes I felt I was getting old before my age, which is why I’m happy with the direction that my career path has now taken.
Can you tell me about Curaloe? Can everyone with different skin types use it?
Curaloe is a skincare brand made from organic products, made in South Africa and Curacao. The main ingredient of every product is fresh aloe vera gel, from the barbandensis species, which has the world’s best nourishing property. The brand covers every type of skin care from face, hair, body, specific skin problems, healthy drinks, and supplements too. Curaloe has the largest range of aloe vera products in the world, and it is certified by a French company called ECOCERT, ensuring freshness, purity, cleanliness, and safety.
People can experience issues with their skin due to a variety of reasons, namely stress, dietary habits, chemical-based skin creams, the environment, and more. There isn’t one
brand that has all the solutions, but Curaloe is unique because of its wide range of products. Each product has over 50 percent of pure natural aloe vera gel, and it can be used for all skin types and age groups, from teens to elders. It is safe for mothers and kids to use as well.
Sounds intriguing! Where can I buy Curaloe?
You can buy it via our website (www.curaloe.in.th) or on Line Shopping, Lazada, and Shopee. It is also available to purchase at select Gourmet Markets.
How has your legal experience helped you sell skincare?
As a lawyer, I could do any legal-related work myself. Whether it was making various agreements, contracts, reviewing documents, or understanding the regulations of the online trading platforms. It has supported every step of the process from negotiating, to bringing the products to Thailand, and I have been able to do it myself instead of hiring a lawyer.
Can you explain further what areas of family law you covered?
Family law covers wills, inheritance, prenuptial agreements, divorce and child custody. Cases that involve children are especially heart-breaking, although our company didn’t usually accept divorce cases, unless it was unavoidable.
Prenuptial agreements can often be seen as bad for marital health, with the belief that you are beginning a marriage built on the assumption of a divorce. How common are prenuptial agreements? Are they important? What are common misconceptions?
A lot of people misunderstand prenuptial agreements, thinking that it is not a good idea. In the old days, people thought that getting life insurance was asking to be cursed with death, but now the idea of life insurance has changed. Prenuptial agreements are the same. Often couples can quarrel over it and they might ask, “Why? Don’t you really love me? Do you not trust me?” but actually prenuptial agreements are a good idea. It mostly covers personal property and no one loses anything. In fact, it should bring people together as there is more trust and peace of mind. If you do get divorced, it is because two people can’t be together anymore. In that case, a prenuptial agreement can make things easier as it tries to reduce problems that may arise in the future.
What are wills, and how do you help people write them? If I wanted to draft a will, what would the process look like?
A will is a testator’s final order which expresses their intentions for their property or affairs upon their death. Creating one from the five different types of wills prescribed by law, allows the will to be legally enforceable. A will should be made if you have property or assets to pass on with more than one heir. It also reduces quarrels or lawsuits. The will should clearly state what assets a testator has, and who will receive what. The best type of will that is usually recommended is a ‘will by public document.’ It must be made in the presence of an official. It will hold legal integrity, and it would make it hard to object to, or argue with.
What has been the most challenging part of your career in these two fields? What did you learn from it?
Working within the legal field is always challenging because each case is never the same.
A good lawyer must be meticulous when reading and writing, as a single line of text can be a decisive win or loss. Every word is important; if written even slightly differently, the meaning can be the opposite of what you want. When arguing in court, I have to ensure the facts are accurate. You need to know how to question a witness in court and be able to analyse the case to suggest ways of winning it. Alternatively, when consulting or drafting a contract, I need to ensure it prevents future problems.
As for importing organic skincare products, it has been very challenging as it is completely different from legal work. As it is completely new product in Thailand, I have to build brand awareness and legitimacy. People need to believe that Curaloe is great for their skin, even for sensitive skin and kids. Additionally, our main sales channel is online, so I need to understand online marketing.
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
I think being a lawyer who has helped people is one of my greatest achievements. Seeing
their happy faces once I was able to solve their issue has been very rewarding. Additionally, importing Curaloe from South Africa and working through the challenges of selling online has been tough but very satisfying.
What advice would you give anyone looking to branch off into a new field?
Opportunities do not come often; if you think there is a chance it might work, do not let the opportunity slip by. Think carefully and take action. Obstacles will come but you have to be prepared to fight and go through. You need to organise your time very well if you are working on more than one thing, because if you don’t, it can cause damage to one or both careers that you’re juggling.