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Turning passion into business concepts

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GRANT Ashford is an ex-banker from London who was so tired of paying sky-high markups for wine at restaurants that he started a private members' club for fellow wine lovers so that they could enjoy their favourite tipple at subsidised prices. The club - 67 Pall Mall - became so successful that he is now in Singapore to open its first international outpost where local wine lovers can enjoy the same privileges in a luxurious 15,000 sq ft penthouse in Shaw Centre next year.

Meanwhile, Lelian Chew is an ex-Goldman Sachs banker who spent seven years catering to the financial needs of tycoons in Asia. A health scare prompted her to take a break to plan her own wedding. Before she knew it, she was planning the nuptials of her ex-client's children and found a lucrative business niche for herself - wedding planner to the super-rich.

In Friday's issue of Weekend magazine, we speak to these two high-flying finance professionals and how they turned their own passions into groundbreaking business concepts.

We also speak with Amanda Lee Koe - a New York-based Singaporean novelist who talks about the writing process behind her latest book, Delayed Rays of A Star, which has been No 1 on Kinokuniya's bestseller list since it was released a month ago.

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Elsewhere, we escape the heat of Singapore to Margaret River, where some of Australia's top wines can be found along with matching cuisine. And if you haven't been to a local wet market recently, revisit this iconic institution with a young Singaporean chef-turned-cookbook author.

Design-wise, we peep behind the bamboo veil of a house designed for both privacy and a unique aesthetic.

And for the style-conscious, we point you towards some of the must-know names in fashion today.

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