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Hua Hin
Saturday, June 22, 2024

“DeerCanDo” anything she sets her mind to

Guido Campigotto suggested that my next interview subject should be Natsima Kunajarasdech, a self-confessed “one-woman show”, a Thai lady of seemingly boundless energy, determination, and optimism. He couldn’t have made a better choice. I had been hoping to chat with a Thai lady for my People of Hua Hin series of articles. Khun Deer, as she prefers to be known, is a woman of vision, passion, and action in both her personal and professional lives, and I can’t wait for the opportunity to meet her in person early next year.

Deer has been a Hua Hin local since 2014, when she moved back to Thailand from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she had been living for over 6 years. Over the following two years, her new home was built, and she settled into the community with the rescue dog she brought back to Thailand with her.

Deer is a devoted dog lover and has a nagging intention to start and operate an animal rescue foundation as she is keenly aware of the plight of unloved dogs in the Hua Hin area. She now has two dogs, a local rescue dog and a German Shepherd, who are her constant companions and sometimes even let her share the bed they believe belongs to them! Deer finds that dogs make very uncomplicated companions since they are much more predictable than people and never seem to let her down. Just being at home, with the dogs, and hosting a dinner party for friends with some great conversation is enough to make Deer happy. And although she tells me that southern Spain, in particular Malaga (including Alhambra, Cordoba, and Marbella), and Seville are places close to her heart because of their rich culture, it is her bedroom that is Deer’s favourite place in the world because it is there that she can totally relax and just be herself. Music is one thing she can’t live without, and having a great speaker allows her to enjoy music to its fullest. She has a broad taste in music, from classical music to Andrea Bocelli, from Pavarotti to smooth jazz. Deer has even curated a series of playlists for different occasions and situations.

Deer was born and raised in Chiang Mai but now prefers to live in Hua Hin because, while it is reasonably close to Bangkok, Hua Hin is less heavily developed than Chiang Mai but still has high-quality healthcare while allowing a more tranquil lifestyle. She, like me, likes how friendly and welcoming the people in Hua Hin are, as well as how our area is known for its outdoor lifestyle.

As a child, Deer wanted to be a politician because she believed that this would be the best way to help people. But as she grew, Deer realised that there were indeed many avenues available to her for assisting others in her community. As a young woman, Deer would never have expected she would end up as the boss, working with such high-profile people.

Despite her marketing studies, Deer began her career in the hospitality industry.When she moved back to Thailand and was settling into her new home, Deer established a small business catering for intimate dinner parties. Heading a Chef’s Table was a natural progression from this, and then Deer moved into hotel marketing and promotion with a credit card company, all these career paths intertwining to give Deer the rather comprehensive skill set she possesses today. She claims she has the “mother instinct” which allows a woman to multitask so effectively, despite not being a mother herself, but rather a dedicated auntie. And she is in awe of the enormous number of women who work incredibly hard to have it all: husband and children, managing a home and family while working full-time in a career where they have to achieve twice as much as men to be seen as equally competent and valuable.

At this point in her career, Deer discovered the need to re-evaluate her life, as she was working primarily in Bangkok and the commute was very hard. Her quality of life was suffering as a result, so Deer took the initiative and started her own company to regain control. Her first company was Divas Lifestyles, a sales and marketing consultancy, which is now being re-branded to NatsimaPR in order to focus more on the public relations side of business.

Although the COVID pandemic had an impact on her business, along with many in the corporate sector, it is fair to say that her present company, NatsimaPR, which focuses on public relations, marketing, and business development, is bouncing back and has a stable of well-known clients. Her large sphere of contact and influence led to her working with Phoenix Aviation on its press conference about the redevelopment of Hua Hin International Airport.

NatsimaPR takes up about half of Khun Deer’s work life. There are two other projects that also command a great deal of her work time, and she is passionate about them both and the potential they have to do good in the community.

Very dear to her heart is the Royal Coast Riviera Club, established in October last year, an organization of which she is the founder while Guido Campigotto is the co-founder and President. Hua Hin’s RCR Club is the first result-oriented business club. It promotes Hua Hin and the provinces of Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan as desirable locations for local and international visitors. The club is not just a social club or a networking opportunity; it is about formulating a strategy and taking action to achieve its goals. Membership is by invitation only. While it is still relatively new and has a membership of 25, Deer hopes to see that number increase to more than 50 members over the next five years, with up to 60% of those members being Thai.Deer’s work with the Royal Coast Riviera Club, her greatest achievement so far, is something that will become her legacy to future generations of Thai people.

The term “Riviera” was first applied to the Royal Coast of Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan by a member of the Thai government. Calling this area Thailand’s Riviera was a fitting comparison since it has much in common with both the French and Italian Rivieras, including many days of sun each year, a culture of festivals, the potential for yachting, a multicultural population, many golf courses and recreation opportunities, a burgeoning health tourism industry, and much natural scenic beauty.

Deer’s vision for the Royal Coast Riviera Club is that local Thai business owners and entrepreneurs will work alongside the expat business community to promote the Royal Coast area as a fabulous holiday playground, similar to its better-known European namesakes. She thinks that the club will play an important role in influencing policy and government decisions through advocacy.

One important part of Deer’s life is her passion to continue learning. Deer wants to develop further skills in facilitating deeper co-operation between Thai and non-Thai stakeholders in the business world. She likes to feel she is learning something new each day because it is important to keep your mind going. A further newish venture for Deer is the establishment of her own YouTube channel, aptly called DeerCanDo. Even though Deer is still in its infancy, it is clear to me that there is very little it cannot do.The channel will be devoted to lifestyle issues, health and wellness. Deer acknowledges the power of social media to do good, provided it is used wisely. With her busy life, Deer doesn’t get the opportunity to read as much as she would like. She is fond of self-development books, but today her free time is more likely to be spent indulging in podcasts.

Although Khun Deer is a very social person, as you would expect from a lady who makes her living in the PR world, she claims to be a very private person. She has a circle of trusted friends who will always be on hand if needed. One thing few in Hua Hin know is that the effervescent Khun Deer is a cancer survivor, who five years ago was diagnosed with Stage 3 cervical cancer and had to undergo a rigorous program of treatment including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and brachytherapy over an 8-week period. Despite this, Deer remained positive throughout, was well supported by her family and friends, and never for a moment entertained the possibility of dying. She is now cancer-free, but she must remain health-conscious for the rest of her life, with regular check-ups and exercise such as yoga and swimming.She has her own “signature salad” made with rucola, roasted butternut squash, avocado, beetroot, tomatoes and pine nuts, lovingly topped with a dressing made with a trio of vinegars (balsamic, apple cider, and red wine), oil, mustard, garlic, and a touch of honey. And Deer would even have this as her final meal if given the choice.

Deer takes great care of her grooming and personal presentation because she sees it as a measure of her respect for the people she interacts with on a daily basis. Her preference is for a classic, elegant style, including vibrant colours and her favourite pearls. As the youngest child in her family, she commanded a great deal of her mother’s attention and admits to having been mesmerized by her mother’s wardrobe and dressing table full of cosmetics. Deer also views her loyalty and honesty as essential parts of her good reputation and likes to always be punctual, also as a sign of respect. She finds people lacking in punctuality quite annoying.

“Never stop until it’s done” is a mantra that Deer lives by. She is a woman who sets high expectations for herself and has equally optimistic expectations of others. It was such a pleasure to chat with her, even via the internet.

Khun Deer, Natsima Kunajarasdech. Remember the name. You’ll undoubtedly be hearing more from her.

Felicitee Lawrie
Author: Felicitee Lawrie

Felicitee Lawrie spends as much of her life as she can in Hua Hin, Thailand. She is passionate about exploring the local culture, keen to make contacts among the Thai and expat residents of Hua Hin and in particular wants to learn more about the food culture of this area of Thailand. If she is able to promote local businesses and producers along the way, this is indeed a bonus. Felicitee has also been enjoying her writing in the People of Hua Hin series of feature articles, finding so many local people have fascinating stories to share with her.

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