Aside from success, these four women entrepreneurs share a passion for the Prancing Horse
What do a jewellery designer, a textile entrepreneur, an equestrian lifestyle club owner and a marketing executive have in common? A passion for cars produced at Maranello. TOFM interviewed each of them and asked what makes Ferrari so special.
Lepa Galeb-Roskopp grew up in Montenegro, before moving to Paris to follow an interest in fashion. She later transferred to California where she set up her jewellery design company, Misahara. She still recalls the first Ferrari she ever saw - a Testarossa - in Silicon Valley in the 1980s. Although not very interested in cars back then, nowadays as a successful jewellery designer she appreciates the similarities between her creative process and the Ferrari ethos and sees a synergy between her design work and the way Ferrari puts its cars together. She appreciates the "intensity of honing in on perfection".
Lepa owns a GTC4Lusso, as well as an F12tdf. The former is for practical "day-to-day" use; the latter is "for weekend drives", preferably along Highway 9 in Silicon Valley. Along Highway 1 to Santa Barbara, she took part in one of her most memorable journeys, as part of some 50 cars forming a cavalcade gliding along the Pacific coast. For a woman so taken up with the art of designing beautiful jewellery, Lepa's reaction to seeing a Ferrari is visceral. "When I look at one I smile," she says. "The emotion that it evokes is immediate." Even the engine's sound catches her attention: "It's amazing. The adrenaline automatically comes out."
Shindy Xin Di Meng - creative director and founder of Camin, a leading textile design company in China - remembers the first time she saw a Ferrari, an F355 Spider parked at Sydney harbour: It was "love at first sight". Shanghai-born Shindy had emigrated to Australia as a teenager, and has thus far lived in eight different countries. She is a lover of motor sports, a love that began when she witnessed the 2004 Ferrari victory at the Shanghai Grand Prix. A Corso Pilota Intro course soon followed, leading to her becoming a Cavalcade competitor. Her first Ferrari was a red 458, something she describes as "my best-ever birthday present, to myself."
In 2012 Shindy became the first Chinese competitor in a Cavalcade event, with her best finish thus far being a creditable third-place in the USA, in her Ferrari California T. But her happiest moment was her victory in last year's 70th Anniversary China Silk Road rally, in her Ferrari 458. She loves driving her car so much that she even located her company offices some 30 kilometres from the city centre "so that I can have time alone with my car."
After a career in fashion Charlotte Dunkerton is embarking on a new entrepreneurial venture, an equestrian lifestyle club in the Cotswolds with spa and restaurant. She enjoys carving her way around the little British country lanes in her Ferrari F12berlinetta, a car that, she says, "always puts a smile on my face." It's a long way from her first-ever car, a right-hand drive Fiat Panda.
Some owners may reserve their Ferrari for special occasions, but not Charlotte. "I like to drive it on every occasion I can," she insists. "It's my favourite car and I'll drive it any time, anywhere." Does this enthusiasm extend to lending the keys to her friends? "I am protective of my Ferrari! So no, I don't let anyone else drive it." Driving it so frequently means that she makes sure to have it professionally valeted once a week. When asked to describe what it is that attracts her to Ferrari, she says: "Like most Italian things, there is an excellence in its craftsmanship."
Esther Ma, CEO and founder of Prestique Limited, one of the leading marketing outfits in Hong Kong, recalls the first time she set eyes on a Ferrari. It was some 20 years ago and it was driven by her friend's father. Nowadays Esther drives what she identifies as "the most feminine of all the models": a Ferrari California. "I love the spacious seats for my two girls," she says. "And the large trunk that comfortably fits two golf bags." As a straight-talking marketing exec Esther is equally precise when asked to name the three things that sum up the brand: "Prestige. Quality. Craftsmanship."
She is as meticulous with her car-care regime - daily wash, quarterly waxing, and check-up "when needed" - as she is stern about who else may drive it: only her husband is permitted the occasional time behind the wheel. "But only short trips," she clarifies. Esther's Ferrari is also a work asset: she recalls taking one particular client for a spin in her California and blowing him away with the ride. "I impressed him with my superb driving skills" she laughs. And she closed the deal.