4 March, 2022
8 Hong Kong Female Entrepreneurs On Career Success
8 Hong Kong Female Entrepreneurs On Career Success

8 Hong Kong Female Entrepreneurs On Career Success, “Breaking The Bias” & More

4 March, 2022
8 Hong Kong Female Entrepreneurs On Career Success scoop

We chat to some of Hong Kong’s most successful female founders about their road to success and the challenges they’ve faced along the way.

One of the things that we love most about Hong Kong is the thriving community of women in business we have here. Our city plays host to a diverse array of female-founded brands, covering every industry and niche you can think of. While these incredible women make entrepreneurship look easy, we know that’s very far from the truth, especially when taking into account the added burden of gender stereotypes and discrimination that comes with being a female founder.

In honour of International Women’s Day, we’re chatting to some of Hong Kong’s most successful female entrepreneurs to learn more about their road to success and the challenges they’ve encountered along the way, including their personal experiences with breaking the bias. Keep scrolling for more…

Read more: Sassy Supports The Women’s Foundation

International Women's Day: Ping Nong, TH&TH

Ping Nong, Co-Founder Of TH&TH

Set up by three best friends, this female-founded start-up brings us a modern take on wedding tradition with its line of beautiful and affordable premium bridesmaid dresses. Co-founder of TH&TH Ping reflects on their success, along with her personal experience of racial bias in the UK.

What has been your favourite career milestone so far?
Being able to start a business not only with my two best friends but in something we are all extremely passionate about. No job has given us the same amount of joy or excitement; creating a brand and product we love so much is a pure honour, and it’s a privilege that we get to play a small part in one of the most important days of a woman’s life.

Have you faced any bias in the past?
I was born and raised in the UK in the early 80s after my Chinese parents emigrated there. I faced a lot of racism growing up, whether it was the colour of my skin, the way my eyes looked, or the fact that my name sounded different to theirs and they found it “funny” to make fun of. I was often told to “go back to where I came from”. I look back now and realise it was ignorance on their part, but I’ve never allowed myself to be victimised by it. I am incredibly proud of my heritage and how hard my parents worked to raise us given their circumstances.

What did you do to break past this bias and become a success?
Due to the racism I faced growing up I felt like I had to work harder than my peers to prove myself, but it was probably the best motivator to get me to where I am today. My parents instilled important values in me growing up, and always supported my siblings and I by reminding us that “you can’t control what people say, but you can control how you let that affect you”. When you are confident in your own priorities and abilities, you care less about other people’s judgments of you, especially when they are so negative.

Shop TH&TH

TH&TH, Facebook: ththbridesmaids, Instagram: @thth_bridesmaids, www.thandth.com

International Women's Day: Pallavi Sheth, I Love Babycakes

Pallavi Sheth, Founder Of I Love Babycakes

Self-taught baker Pallavi Sheth founded I Love Babycakes with one goal in mind – to share her love for all things sweet. Now, 13 years later, this passion-driven bakery has gone international. With a presence in both Mumbai and Hong Kong, its homestyle cupcakes, cakes and cookies are a go-to for celebrations big and small. Here, Pallavi shares her thoughts on the gender bias in the baking industry, along with the differences in how women are positioned in both Hong Kong and India.

What has been your proudest career milestone so far?
My proudest career milestone so far would have to be successfully launching my brand in a new country (i.e. Hong Kong), while simultaneously continuing to run the same brand in Mumbai. Of course, none of this would have been possible without my very supportive team, especially in these challenging times.

What are your thoughts on the gender bias in your industry?
Given that baking can sometimes be stereotyped as a job for women, I consciously try to reverse the roles at Babycakes. In fact, on my team, it’s mainly men who do the baking and the sales are front ended by women. I don’t believe that society should assign particular jobs to certain genders – if you have the talent and skills, you should follow your passions, whatever they may be.

How do you see the position of women in Hong Kong compared to in India?
Women in Hong Kong are enterprising and open to new experiences. While this is similar to women in urban India, it may not hold true for those from rural areas and smaller towns. Given that I come from a small town in North East India myself, I recognise the differences, and also the self-confidence and perseverance it takes to break out of those traditional moulds.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs starting out in Hong Kong?
My one piece of advice would be to go ahead and take the plunge! Hong Kong is an extremely welcoming and encouraging city, and no idea is too small to turn into a business reality.

Sassy Perk Pink

Use the code SASSY10 to enjoy 10% off. Offer valid until Thursday, 31 March, 2022.

Shop I Love Babycakes

I Love Babycakes will donate 20% of its sales referred by Sassy to The Women’s Foundation Hong Kong from now until Thursday, 31 March, 2022.

I Love Babycakes, Facebook: babycakesbypallavi, Instagram: @babycakesbypallavi, ilovebabycakes.in

International Women's Day: Frederieke Van Doorn, FY

Frederieke Van Doorn, Founder & Director Of FREY

Sharp suits, bold day dresses, impeccable tailoring – check, check and check. As the city’s first dedicated luxury women’s tailoring brand, FREY will leave you wanting for nothing in the stylish workwear department. Founder Frederieke shares her professional journey thus far, along with her experiences of gender bias in the fashion industry.

What has been your proudest career milestone so far?
I am extremely proud to have launched my women’s only tailoring brand in Hong Kong. With so many working women in search of good quality, fashionable formalwear, I am thrilled to be able to fulfil this need with sustainable, everlasting pieces that are both stylish and comfortable.

I started right at the bottom; sewing, cutting and steaming in a very hot factory in China, and repeated this process over and over until perfection was achieved. I lived and breathed fabric, design, prints and production runs. I now pride myself on having the expertise and skills to tailor the highest quality suits for both females and males.

Have you ever experienced gender bias in your career?
Yes. When I moved to China to produce men’s suits, the factory team did not take me seriously because I was a female. The team did not want to listen to my ideas or opinions, even though I was qualified and experienced. Funnily enough, I joined the company at the same time as another male employee who had no background in fashion and production, and yet they would listen to him. This was very challenging in the beginning, but it drove me to work even harder to prove myself, and once I had done that, the team trusted me.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs starting out in Hong Kong?
Firstly, make sure you love what you do. If you love it, it will not feel like work, but rather daily achievement towards reaching your dream. Remain purpose-driven and know there is always a solution to every problem; nothing is impossible. There is a lot of trial and error, but if you are flexible and adaptable, you can achieve anything.

Sassy Perk Pink

Purchase any jacket and receive a free summer silk scarf by using the code SASSY22. Offer valid until Sunday, 3 April, 2022.


FREY, G04, 9 Queens Road, Central, Hong Kong, Facebook: Freytailored, Instagram: @frey.tailored, www.frey-tailored.com

International Women's Day: Queenie Fan, Cafuné

Queenie Fan, Co-Founder Of Cafuné

Spotted on the arms of celebrities like Lady Gaga, local brand Cafuné is making waves in the fashion world. At its helm is lifelong friends Queenie Fan and Day Lau, who are committed to creating timeless and sustainable pieces for the independent woman. Here, Queenie tells us about her proudest personal achievement, along with the challenges that come with being a young woman in business.

What is your proudest personal achievement?
I think it would be finding my true self and establishing my self-identity as an independent woman.

Growing up, I was always a bit quiet and timid. There were creative ideas and thoughts in my head, but I didn’t know how to express them. Studying and working in the US transformed me completely and moulded me into who I am today – confident, supportive and passionate. Looking back, I guess I had a strong will to find my voice since I was little, and I am proud of sticking to that determination.

What has been your greatest career milestone so far?
Having our first iconic bag Mini Basket Bucket worn by Lady Gaga was a pretty special moment for me.

What has been your experience with gender bias?
When you start your own business at a young age, people are not always willing to take you seriously – especially in the leather industry, which is typically more traditional and male-driven. It took us time and hard work to prove Cafuné’s potential and vision, and we are very grateful for all our partners who believed in us from the beginning.

How do you see the position of women in Hong Kong?
I think Hong Kong has come a long way in terms of gender equality, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement, especially in terms of representation and leadership opportunities in the private and public sector. We also need to urgently ramp up support for working mums so they can still comfortably pursue their passion whilst balancing parenthood.

Sassy Perk Pink

Enjoy 10% off using the code SASSY. Discount applicable to full-priced items only, and is valid until Thursday, 31 March, 2022.

Shop Cafuné

Cafuné, Facebook: cafune.official, Instagram: @cafune.official, www.ca-fune.com

International Women's Day: Tayma Page Allies, Tayma Fine Jewellery

Tayma Page Allies, Founder Of TAYMA Fine Jewellery

With over 30 years of jewellery design experience under her belt, Tayma has firmly established herself as one of Hong Kong’s leading gemstone experts. Her eponymous brand, TAYMA Fine Jewellery, specialises in beautiful coloured gemstones – perfect if you’re looking for something a little bit different to stand out from the crowd! Ahead, Tayma talks to us about her biggest career milestones, along with the challenges of being a female entrepreneur.

What has been your proudest career milestone so far?
Starting a jewellery brand from scratch in such a competitive market as Hong Kong, with no backers or investors, and surviving and thriving for over 30 years. After being invited to open a boutique in the prestigious Landmark Prince’s Building and rubbing shoulders with Chanel and Cartier, I knew I had arrived!

Have you faced any gender bias in the past?
I think people underestimate entrepreneurial women, as possibly they don’t understand what it is that we do. I’ve found that people often assume our business is just a “wife’s side hustle” or a “hobby”, and not something to be taken seriously. For me, after 31 years of a successful business in difficult times, TAYMA isn’t just a hobby!

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs starting out in Hong Kong?
Be passionate about what you do, as you have to work harder and smarter than anyone else to realise your dream. And don’t be afraid to be your own advocate – I think a lot of women are held back by imposter syndrome, which stops them from promoting and publicising their voice and talents. As an entrepreneur, you have to be confident and believe in yourself to make your business work.

Shop TAYMA Fine Jewellery

TAYMA Fine Jewellery, 9D, Ho Lee Commercial Building, 38-44 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong, 2525 5280, Facebook: taymafinejewellery, Instagram: @taymafinejewellery, www.taymafinejewellery.com

International Women's Day: Leigh Powrie, Double Haven Brewing

Leigh Powrie, Co-Founder Of Double Haven Brewing

From passionate beer fan to co-founding Hong Kong’s largest craft brewery and starting the city’s first spiked seltzer range, it’s been quite the ride for Leigh Powrie. We chat to Leigh about the gender stereotypes ingrained in traditional beer culture, and what Double Haven Brewing is doing to address this.

What do you enjoy about owning your own business?
Being able to create fun initiatives and products that we truly believe in. If we want to create a drink that supports animal welfare, or give away beer for beach clean-ups, or even make a Lychee Mochi seltzer (watch this space!), we do it.

What are your thoughts on the gender bias in your industry?
The craft beer world is steeped in an obvious bias, a long held belief that beer is for men and that women drink wine and fruity cocktails that end in “-tini”. Beer names, flavour profiles and advertisements have long skewed masculine despite the fact that women make up 30% of craft beer consumers.

In the US, only 17% of breweries have a female CEO and just 2% are solely owned by a female. In Asia, these statistics are much lower. But this doesn’t bear out the rich history of women in brewing. Did you know, women were the original brewsters, and for 7,000 years they brewed beer as part of ritual ceremonies, as calorie-dense staples and, later, to sell in marketplaces? It’s only in the last 300 years that brewing has been considered the domain of men.

How is Double Haven helping to overcome this gender bias?
A huge part of Double Haven’s agenda is to continue hiring women and upskilling them in this area so women are more highly represented in Hong Kong. Launching our Dragon Water Spiked Seltzer range and crafting our beers so we provide easy-drinking options was a great step in making craft beverages very accessible to women. It’s part of my personal agenda to bridge the gap between women, craft beverage enjoyment and accessibility.

Sassy Perk Pink

Enjoy 20% off all Double Haven Craft Beers, Dragon Water Spiked Seltzer cans and eco merch using the code SASSYASSY. Offer valid until Friday, 8 April, 2022.

Shop Double Haven Brewing

Double Haven Brewing, Facebook: DragonWaterHK, Instagram: @dragonwaterHK, doublehavenbrewing.com

International Women's Day: Rebecca Metcalfe, She Creates Stories

Rebecca Metcalfe, Founder Of She Creates Stories

Coastal-inspired Australian fashion is the order of the day at locally-founded boutique She Creates Stories. Think breezy linen dresses and boho prints – yes, we want everything! We talk to founder Rebecca about her experiences with gender bias, and the female business community in Hong Kong.

What has been your proudest career milestone so far?
Launching She Creates Stories in 2021 was by far the proudest milestone I’ve had in my career to date. Having the flexibility and freedom to be my own boss makes me so happy. I always wanted to try and start a business by the time I was 40, and I managed it at 39 – nothing like cutting it fine! After seven months in business, SCS has now fulfilled over 500 orders and is shipping to eight different countries.

Has there ever been a time in your career where you’ve had to break the bias?
I have always worked in a heavily female dominated industry. However, I find that the senior management in most retailers are usually male, even in this day and age! I pushed myself to break into a management position in Australia, and it has positioned me well to start my own business in Hong Kong. This took a lot of hard work but it was worth it.

How do you see the position of women in Hong Kong?
I really struggle with the treatment of some female groups here in Hong Kong. I especially dislike the treatment of domestic helpers; we are all human beings and deserve respect and to be treated as equals. I do believe Hong Kong still has a way to go on this and I’d love to see a change in the coming years.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs starting out in Hong Kong?
Lean on the amazing women in business networks we have here in Hong Kong. There are so many groups and business owners who are very supportive when you are starting out. It’s a tight-knit community and we build each other up, support each other’s decisions and promote each other’s businesses. This is invaluable, and I would say pretty rare! The Women of Hong Kong group is a great place to start, and membership is free.

Sassy Perk Pink

Take 10% off your next order using the code SASSY10.

Shop She Creates Stories

She Creates Stories will donate 10% of its sales to The Women’s Foundation Hong Kong  from now until Friday, 1 April, 2022.

She Creates Stories, 61a Seabird Lane, Discovery Bay, Beach Village, Hong Kong, 9166 8077, Instagram: @she_creates_stories, www.shecreatesstories.com

International Women's Day: Sally Lim, 2°EAST

Sally Lim, Co-Founder Of 2°EAST

With sustainability at its core, 2°EAST is the locally-founded watch brand to know for stylish timepieces that won’t cost the earth. Its collection of mix-and-match straps make it easy to change up our look without having to buy a new watch each time, saving on costs (yay for our wallets) and resources (yay for the earth). Co-Founder Sally Lim talks us through the challenges of starting her own business, plus shares her advice for female entrepreneurs in Hong Kong.

What has been the most challenging aspect of starting your own business?
Self doubt is by far the biggest challenge – it’s incredibly hard to celebrate your own achievements. It goes against all our cultural and gender modesty norms. I am hardwired to talk myself down, so promoting the business I built is much harder than I ever expected.

Have you experienced gender bias in your past?
I sat through an almost comical meeting when I was starting out. I’d been introduced to a company director as someone that I could potentially partner with in launching an independent brand. The director insisted on repeatedly speaking only to the man that made the introduction rather than to me, despite being told repeatedly “you’ll have to ask her, I have no idea”. He did address me to make a few comments on my appearance but that was about it.

I’m so grateful that this is among the worst I have had to deal with and that I didn’t have to go ahead and work with him.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs starting out in Hong Kong?
Build a network. There are many supportive women out there that have trodden the same path before or are currently at the same stage of building a business, there is no need to go it alone.

Networking (as with everything) was much easier pre-COVID when there were a lot of entrepreneur-focussed events held at co-working spaces etc., but I have recently made some great connections via social media and in online workshops through the likes of General Assembly.

Sassy Perk Pink

Use the code Sassy15 to enjoy 15% off all orders within Hong Kong. Offer valid until Friday, 30 December, 2022, and cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotion.

Shop 2°EAST

2°EAST, Facebook: 2degreeseast, Instagram: @2degreeseast, 2degreeseast.com

Editor’s Note: This article features paid listings.

Hero image courtesy of STIL via Unsplash, image 1 courtesy of TH&TH, image 2 courtesy of I Love Babycakes, image 3 courtesy of FREY, image 4 courtesy of Cafuné, image 5 courtesy of TAYMA Fine Jewellery, image 6 courtesy of  Double Haven Brewing, image 7 courtesy of  She Creates Stories, image 8 courtesy of 2°EAST.

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