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13 Hong Kong-Based Female Founders Share Their Life Lessons

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Claire Yates, Founder of The Lion Rock Press

How do you use your brand/role to support women?
I’m not sure how it happened, but in the past 2 years or so I have found myself, at least twice a week, being asked to sit down with other women to talk to them about their businesses. They are sometimes friends, or friends of friends who have asked for a favour, but mostly they are random strangers who reach out to me via my social media or email, asking for an hour of my time to talk through a specific issue they have with their business or their business model in general. Sometimes they are direct competitors (which I think takes real guts, by the way, so kudos to them) and sometimes they are in a business I have no experience in. Fundamentally, business is similar across the board so I just offer them a sounding board, sometimes reassurance and sometimes an alternative view. A lot of the time they are on their own in their businesses, so I can just be someone to bat ideas around with. I’m in the business of lifting other women up, and I’m not going to withhold help because I worry it might affect my own business. I enjoy talking to them and hearing their stories and I help if I can, or try and connect them with someone else who can help. These few hours are often my favourite of the week and I hope I can help provide some clarity when they feel lost.

What’s a quote you live by?
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”. As an entrepreneur, it is easy for the lines to blur between your business and the rest of your life. You can get very focused (to the point of obsession) and you need to be actively keeping yourself in check. It is nearly impossible to find the perfect balance, however it’s a constant work in progress.

Talk us through a pivotal moment in your life, where women helping women led to success.
As well as running The Lion Rock Press, I also co-founded an NGO called EcoDrive which tackles the issue of single-use plastic here in Hong Kong. I teamed up with 10 other women from a variety of backgrounds, but what we all have in common is that we are mothers who care deeply about the legacy we are leaving for our children. Coming together with them last year, we could never have dreamed that we could achieve all we have by helping each other shine and using our connections and influence to make change happen at individual, corporate, industry and community level. It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to experience this alongside these incredible women. Our film “Start Small, Start Now” has been played all over Hong Kong and beyond (it’s available on Cathay Pacific in-flight entertainment) and I have spoken in front of LegCo imploring them to bring in a policy to force people to confront their waste. Without the support and encouragement of my co-founders, none of this would have been possible.

Tell us about a woman you admire.
My domestic helper, Teresa, left all her hopes and dreams for herself (not to mention her husband and young children) in the Philippines in order to come here to support her children, parents and extended family when times got tough at home. She is a very intelligent woman, who spends her spare time going on courses to learn more about the things that interest her and that she hopes will sustain her when she eventually moves back. Despite the hardships, she works diligently with energy and dignity in my home, allowing me to pursue my own dreams knowing that my children are nurtured and looked after when I’m not there. It must be agony to be trapped in a life you didn’t choose, when you know you’re capable of so much more, but she does it with grace and fortitude.

What are 3 tips you’d give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

  1. Believe in yourself and your idea – as an entrepreneur, you’re the sole champion of your concept. Make sure you know it intimately and believe in your potential to bring it to life.
  2. Use your network and your connections, and don’t be afraid to ask for the things you need, whether that be capital, knowledge, contacts or other resources. You will be surprised how willing people are to reach out and help you get to the next level. Put yourself out there – if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
  3. Have something to say. Entrepreneurs need a strong narrative that people can buy into. What is different about you? How did you get here? What are you offering that’s interesting and new? Share your story with people and allow them to emotionally invest in who you are and, in turn, what the values of your business are. Business is all about relationships and human connections, and entrepreneurs need to leverage that more than most. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities – people respond to that and, in the end, it makes your narrative more engaging.
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Monica Browning, Founder of Courage Through Coaching

How do you use your brand/role to support women?
The work I do as a heart-centred leadership and life coach supports women in developing themselves, celebrating and building on their strengths, uncovering self-limiting beliefs and showing up as their best selves. On the journey to transformation, I support women to navigate and explore what it feels like to make resonant impactful choices and decisions, based on a solid understanding of their core values, as they move towards their dreams both professionally and personally. This work enables me to live and honour my values of courage, connection and health (physical, mental/emotional and spiritual) and to express my life purpose in inspiring others to live and love courageously and authentically.

What’s a quote you live by?
“Choose discomfort not resentment” – Brene Brown. I love this quote AND it puts me to the test many times a week (sometimes in a day) as I navigate the multiple decisions that I need to take in daily life. It keeps me grounded in my value of courage and helps me to continually grow the self-awareness muscle. The “people pleaser” in me makes this a massive stretch and it is not something that comes very easily to me (although it’s getting easier with practice). I know this is also true for many of my clients. Taking a pause, breathing and making a decision other than my well-trained “default” has resulted in huge gains and positive outcomes for me.

Talk us through a pivotal moment in your life, where women helping women led to success.
2019 was a pivotal year for me professionally and personally. It was the year I founded and launched my business and tackled some personal health challenges. Professionally – I joined an inspirational group of female entrepreneurs called The Tribe HK, whose mission is to help entrepreneurs grow, especially in the area of digital development and education. Their knowledge, network and support has been invaluable and a key part of my success in launching my digital business. Personally, it is through the help of women supporting women that I’ve been able to share my personal health challenges in a non-judgemental, supportive and honest way, and been able to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Tell us about a woman you admire.
Apart from my mum, a woman who I admire is Brene Brown – the researcher and storyteller. Her authenticity and her courage inspire me. Her ability to bring humour whilst sharing very personal, moving and sometimes challenging stories reveal her strength of character and her humanity. Her TedTalks (especially her first one on the power of vulnerability) as well as her written material reveal huge insights into human behaviour which are of personal interest to me in the work that I do. I use her research in my work and I also apply it to how I show up.

What are 3 tips you’d give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

  1. Ask for help – whatever the situation, whatever the time, whatever the place. Some things we just can’t do on our own.  There is no shame in asking for help and you’ll likely save time, learn new skills and build your own capability. It can also empower someone who is sharing their knowledge and helping you. It’s a win-win.
  2. Be courageous – feel the fear and do it anyway, it helps us grow. The point where we stretch, is the point where we grow. And yes, it’s scary, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. Consider the cost of not feeling the fear and standing still.
  3. Remember your “why” and make fun, joy and laughter a part of your why. I’ve caught myself on occasion getting far too serious about everything and life can get hard in those moments. Ensuring that fun, joy and laughter are part of my “why” brings additional ease both personally and professionally.
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Myriam Bartu, Co-Founder and Advisor of Enrich HK

How do you use your brand/role to support women?
By providing life-changing financial and empowerment education, Enrich enables migrant domestic workers (primarily women) to escape debt and achieve their dreams, whatever those may be. Through Enrich and also in my personal capacity, I have always tried to be there for other women (for my friends, for Enrich’s team and for the migrant domestic workers and women I encounter in my day). I listen to their struggles and offer support, especially on efforts to reduce consumption, save money and do what it takes to live with peace and ease. Just having someone to listen can be a powerful form of support.

What’s a quote you live by?
“Everything is either an act of love or a call for love” Jennifer Williamson. If someone is not being supportive, or even if they are being hurtful or aggressive, it is because they themselves are hurting. What they really need is love. While I understand that there is pain behind the challenging words and actions that I see and feel, I know it is not about me and I can let go of getting emotionally affected. This helps me live with more ease, connection and compassion.

Talk us through a pivotal moment in your life, where women helping women led to success.
During the early years of setting up Enrich we had no detailed road map, no office and no funding. We had loads of passion, energy and creative ideas. We said “Yes, great, go for it!” to ideas put forward by each other and supported each other in turning these ideas into projects. Some ideas did well and some did not; it was this experimenting that led to the foundation of the professional established charity that Enrich is today.

Tell us about a woman you admire.
The women in Enrich’s founding team. Sophie Paine, Aruni John and Lenlen Mesina are all highly passionate, ethical and generous women who guided, inspired and motivated Enrich’s growth over the first decade. All three have the beautiful talent of dreaming big and creatively, while staying humble and closely connected to the migrants Enrich serves. We attracted other similarly wired women and today Enrich is still led by a highly passionate, caring and committed team of (mostly) women.

What are 3 tips you’d give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

  1. Start small. Initially, as much as possible, use savings instead of loans. Test out your ideas, keep costs low and expand once you have fine tuned your business with the knowledge of real experience.
  2. Trust. Find people that you can trust and trust the people that you have found. Trust works in a virtuous circle and it is the basis of team building which is the foundation of success.
  3. Know when to let go. Whether you are letting go of a role or selling your business, know when it is time to let someone else do what you were doing. It’s not likely that you are the best person for every role in a growing venture. Letting go is the other wing of trust.
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Ines Gafsi, Co-Founder of Female Entrepreneurs Worldwide

How do you use your brand/role to support women?
Female Entrepreneurs Worldwide (FEW) is an online-to-offline business platform that connects, inspires and empowers women for entrepreneurial success, to scale their business locally and globally. FEW Academy offers masterclasses all taught by industry experts and successful business leaders to provide skills and qualities needed to become a successful, next-generation entrepreneur. FEW’s online and offline showrooms serve as market expansion channels for members to promote and sell their products and services.

What’s a quote you live by? 
“Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives” – Michelle Obama.

Talk us through a pivotal moment in your life, where women helping women led to success.
A key pivotal moment was probably expanding to Shanghai and Singapore so we can now support our members’ growth in other markets, accompanying the founder and saving her the time of not making common mistakes and offering shortcuts to gain new business opportunities. Our mission is to make women successful in business, and over the past five years, our actions have been rewarded by messages from our members about collaborations, deals and connections they made via our network. Many of them feel inspired learning about other women’s challenges and successes at our events so we created inspiring interviews on our YouTube channel.

Tell us about a woman you admire.
I recently discovered the work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. I admire the unique journey of this quiet warrior’s rise to the highest court, fighting for women’s workplace rights and preventing race discrimination.

What are 3 tips you’d give to aspiring female entrepreneurs? 

  1. Surround yourself with likeminded people – find people who understand what you’re trying to do. Those people will be the ones to support you.
  2. Take calculated risks  – save and make sure you have a clear-cut budget in place with an emergency buffer zone that should alert you when you go down to critical levels.
  3. Do the maths – business is maths, get on top of your numbers, don’t be afraid of it.
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Clare Lim Martin, Co-founder and CEO of SharedSpace

How do you use your brand/role to support women?
I have come to love strength training, and will be leading Strength and Movement program for women come Spring 2020. I’ve always been physically active as a dancer, and my strength training has helped with my confidence to work towards more challenging movements in Acrobatics and Parkour. I think that there are many women and girls out there, who want to be more physically active and adventurous, but are self-conscious abut becoming “too muscular” or even looking masculine. I hope to build a community of women (and supportive men as well) who rise above such beliefs that simply aren’t true.

What’s a quote you live by?
Always moving forward!

Talk us through a pivotal moment in your life, where women helping women led to success.
Last year, I was inappropriately touched by another woman. It was difficult to navigate, psychologically and emotionally, particularly because this person was not a stranger, and I couldn’t stand the thought of others out there being put through the same. I think that in our society, we tend to assume that harassment happens on a man-to-woman basis, but the truth is that these things can happen in so many variations, and leaves many of us unsure of how to navigate such problems when they happen. When I began to share about what I had experienced, many others within our shared community were resistant towards my speaking up. Through all this, my colleague and video editor, Pam Gonzalez, was in my corner and a huge mental support to me. We spoke through the many discomforts of such a happening – having another woman to confide in, and stand in my truth with me, really helped me get back on my feet. I’m ever grateful to have an empowered, and empowering woman as my colleague (thanks, Pam!).

Tell us about a woman you admire.
Nevine Michaan, founder of Katonah Yoga, my mentor. Nevine is a teacher, a maternal figure and a friend. I visit her every year in New York – it’s a personal pilgrimage for my personal religion. Nevine has supported me, and many other students, in building personal brands, using Katonah Yoga concepts to create innovative products, teacher training and learning experiences. Many teachers teach us their best tricks, their techniques and, in that process, teach us how to see things from their perspective. Nevine teaches how to develop your own perspective, your own vision. For me, Nevine’s style of mentoring is empowering.

What are 3 tips you’d give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

  1. Own your unique strengths as a woman – communicate powerfully and clearly, and use your empathy to better relate to others. Use your femininity to bring more to the table – we are not beneath men, nor are we above them.
  2. We go through all the seasons each month – men don’t (necessarily). Use this monthly cycle to organise your time at work. Stay in tune with yourself. On non-flow days, get out there and get more done. That way, on flow days, you can rest better.
  3. Learn to work with both men and women as equals. Equal does not mean the same – it means fair, void of prejudice.
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Dervla Louli, Founder of Compare Retreats

How do you use your brand/role to support women?
Our core team is made up entirely of incredibly talented women who are leaders in marketing, editorial and sales. I learn so much from them every day and love being part of a supportive, tight-knit team of women who lift each other up. Our close global clientele is predominantly females with demanding professional and personal lives. We support them by helping them find and book the best wellness retreats in the world, to help them achieve their physical, spiritual and mental health goals. Our magazine content also celebrates females in the wellness space such as our roundup of women leading Hong Kong’s wellness revolution.

What’s a quote you live by?
‘To lead your best life, do your best work” and my favourite – “If you’re in doubt you’re not in doubt”.

Talk us through a pivotal moment in your life, where women helping women led to success.
Three of my former bosses have been strong women who have encouraged me to develop new skills, think for myself and go above and beyond whatever role I was in. They empowered me to think big, follow my intuition and taught me to put problems into perspective. Maura Thompson, the co-founder of Sassy, and Claire Melwani, a shareholder of Sassy Media Group, are two of these women.

Tell us about a woman you admire.
Marketing and communications expert Cathy Chon is the founder and MD of CatchOn and Co. and co-chair of the 2019 Global Wellness Summit. Her specialties lie in the luxury, lifestyle, travel, retail and wellness arenas, and she is an expert in transforming, building and creating brands. She is an encouraging and wise force behind many female (and male) entrepreneurs globally and I make a point to put into action any advice I’m lucky enough to receive from her.

What are 3 tips you’d give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

  1. Trust your gut.
  2. Embrace your fears.
  3. Stop thinking and start doing.
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Bertha Chan, Founder of Curvasian

How do you use your brand/role to support women?
Curvasian.com was focused on providing plus-size fashion resources in Asia in the beginning. Things moved to a new direction in 2011 when body positivity came about in pop culture as the movement often intertwined with inclusivity in fashion. So naturally, the space I created originally for plus-size people has become a safer space for all “womxn” and their allies to discuss different issues.

I advocate for “womxn” and marginalised groups, by creating conversations about body image issues, self-love, self-acceptance, body acceptance (including fat acceptance) and ways to tackle body dysmorphia. I also touch on feminism, to stand in solidarity with intersectional feminism.

What’s a quote you live by?
“No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance” – Robert Holden

Talk us through a pivotal moment in your life, where women helping women led to success.
I never think about success as an outcome, I feel that I am a small wheel motor in the equality movement, and I don’t need to see the result to strive, it is a purpose in life. Having said that, uplifting the “womxn” in my community has definitely brought positive changes for all of us and I see that as a success.

Tell us about a woman you admire.
I admire my mother the most in this world. From our conversations all these years, I learn bit by bit about her past and the hardships she has gone through. She was a little girl with no support from anyone. From there, she becomes a superwoman who raised five kids by providing financially and domestically for them. She has not stopped giving and caring for us up to this moment. I look up to her for her strength.

What are 3 tips you’d give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

  1. Be unafraid of mistakes – instead of being afraid of failure, learn to fail safely. Make room for error. Fail, reflect, repeat. I am sure you will be very knowledgeable after five failures this year.
  2. Be spontaneous – network with people you vibe with, and collaborate on different projects to learn new skillsets or get inspired. Make friends with anyone who is open to new adventures and see where it takes you. You never know what it would bring (remember failing is an option).
  3. Be vulnerable – share your feelings with the people around you, with your staff or anyone who’s working with you. Open up and talk about what bothers you, instead of overthinking and assuming things in your head. Learn to communicate. As a woman, you don’t need to be the tough cookie. As a boss, you can be soft as water and really get things flowing.

Read more: Listen to Bertha On Sassy Speaks Episode Two: You Do You

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Jasmine Smith, Founder of RAVEN + ROSE

How do you use your brand/role to support women?
RAVEN + ROSE supports women in aiding them to be their most raw and real (sexual) selves. I believe that a female body and its natural curves (or lack of, if you’re more androgynous) should be embellished as opposed to re-shaped into something that fits the stereotypical mould of what it means to be sexy. RAVEN +ROSE allows this belief to be showcased.

What’s a quote you live by?
Whats the point in having your own thoughts, if you are always worried about what everybody else thinks.

Talk us through a pivotal moment in your life, where women helping women led to success.
Launching RAVEN + ROSE has lead to working alongside photographers, graphic designers, fashion design interns and those with a strong stance on the ownership of female sexuality.  The brand has been a platform for many to voice their personal and powerful thoughts on the topic of feminine sexuality and ownership. The brand, through collaborations, has expanded from being a singular voice (my own) to being lead by both males and females in the creative industry that believe in the #femalegaze.

Tell us about a woman you admire.
Sofie Jacobs. My best friend, soundboard and fellow maverick. Sofie decided to swim against the stereotypical mould of her industry, midwifery, to present a modern version of what it is to be pregnant and to give birth. She is everything you wouldn’t expect from someone who has been in the industry for over 20 years and that rebellious nature is what I love about her individual stance on birthing.

What are 3 tips you’d give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

  1. You are different. Own it and use it to your advantage. Fitting in is average.
  2. Find a mentor. You will be doing so much of what you do blind – so prepare a person you can go to when needed.
  3. The silver lining is everything! Continuously look for it (because the entrepreneur’s road can be a hard knock – the ones that survive are the ones that persevere).
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Sonalie Figueiras, Founder & CEO of Green Queen & Ekowarehouse

How do you use your brand/role to support women?
Every day at Green Queen we champion women who are working to change the world through stories, interviews and profiles. That’s a key part of our mission.

What’s a quote you live by?
“Every dollar you spend is a chance to vote for the world you believe in.”

Talk us through a pivotal moment in your life, where women helping women led to success.
I just had a baby a few months ago and I was amazed at how much my tribe of mom friends and non-mom friends gathered round me to help. They called, they wrote, they visited, they reached out, they advised and they made sure I had support, even though I wasn’t asking for it. It was brilliant and made the experience so much better.

Tell us about a woman you admire.
Ah too many to choose. But I will have to say my mother: she is ambitious and kind, glamorous and maternal, generous and clever – it’s hard to find all those qualities in one person.

What are 3 tips you’d give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

  1. Do it your way – forget the books and the advice and what others do. Forge your own path, one that works for you.
  2. Run your company as if you are being recorded: be honest, fair and authentic. If you’re not, it will catch up with you.
  3. Find a woman mentor and a peer group of female entrepreneurs that you can go to for advice and support. We all need to talk things out.
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Madelon de Grave, Founder of Bamboo Scenes

How do you use your brand/role to support women?
With Bamboo Scenes we focus on strong artistic power and I am very proud to have such fierce female talent within our collective. Among our artists, we proudly represent eight female photographers, who all have their own incredible stories and experiences of Hong Kong. These creative women have decided to follow their passion – and I feel honoured to help them share their artistic work with an international audience and to turn their work into tangible photography art pieces for walls in Hong Kong and beyond. I can only hope this inspires other women to pursue their own personal dreams as well.

What’s a quote you live by?
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” A quote I first read in Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” – a book advocating women empowerment and a sentence I realised I have lived by for years. From deciding to leave my Supply Chain Management career to pursue and discover my true passion – by moving to Buenos Aires, Guatemala and now Hong Kong (where I eventually launched my own art company). If you always live by the fear of failing, you will never be able to realise your own dreams. To keep reminding myself of this daily, I have placed this quote in my bathroom – for me to read every morning when brushing my teeth at the start of another day.

Talk us through a pivotal moment in your life, where women helping women led to success.
When living in Guatemala, I worked alongside Dutch-born Tessa de Goede – a powerful lady who I immensely respect. Tessa started her own charity organisation in 2008, helping Guatemalan children with cleft lips and palates by organising surgery and offering life-changing care. For almost a year and a half I was able to support her work and vision, giving those kids a better life and educating their mothers. To date, with her positive energy and effort she has managed to offer life-changing surgeries to nearly 1,800 Guatemalan children, providing them a fair chance to live their life.

Tell us about a woman you admire.
I have lots of strong and independent women I admire in my personal life, from my mother to my female friends who are kicking ass in their corporate careers. But also to the women who have paved the way before me by building their own businesses from scratch. I continuously aim to learn from them by reading autobiographies or listening to talks or interviews. At the moment I am reading Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” which is a great and strong read I highly recommend. I did also very much enjoy reading #Girlboss, where I found lots of resemblance with someone who bootstrapped her own business out of a passion. And I can only hope for my journey to commence the way it did for her!

What are 3 tips you’d give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

  1. Don’t be afraid to fail. A pitfall is to overthink fear, with “what if” becoming your biggest enemy. No one knows how life will unfold. If you believe something will work, overcome your fear and try it. Otherwise you will always live with a feeling of regret.
  2. Surround yourself with the right people. Find people who believe in you, who are honest and from whom you can learn. Because there will be moments where you have doubts, and it’s your closest circle who can be there to lift you up and help you grow even further.
  3. Dream BIG! Don’t shy away from daring to dream big and for saying it out loud. Lots of women shy away from what others might think. Who cares?! If you believe in it, work towards that goal and show them that dreams can never be too big.
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Diane Younes, CEO & Founder of Sponge

How do you use your brand/role to support women?
Our Menu contains hair, makeup and lash extension looks that are all named after gender-neutral and inspiring roles that a woman can be, and is: The Leader, The Go-Getter, The Inspiration, The Athlete, etc. We conveniently provide these beauty services in the comfort of your own home, your office or any location. We’ve been known to pamper lots of women as they cradle their newborn baby in their arms at home, or as they work on an important presentation in their office. And of course we make our clients feel like the best version of themselves so they can take on their day with confidence!

What’s a quote you live by?
“If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re doing something. Which is better than doing nothing.”

Talk us through a pivotal moment in your life, where women helping women led to success.
When I first moved to Hong Kong from New York, I didn’t know anyone. I attended a Female Entrepreneurs event my first week here, and I met women who ever so kindly referred me to the right people to help build Sponge. Women are generous with opening up their network to you. And the rest is history.

Tell us about a woman you admire.
My step-mother. Because she always knows what to do and stays calm, even in the toughest of situations.

What are 3 tips you’d give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

  1. Do not create a problem, but rather, create a company that solves an already-existing problem.
  2. Read Phil Knight’s “Shoe Dog” – it’s the best book I’ve read in a long time and it will make you put your own business-related mistakes into perspective.
  3. The most important tip: bet on, and invest in, yourself.
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Sarah Fung, Founder of HULA

How do you use your brand/role to support women?
HULA is a consignment platform for the resale of designer womenswear. We help to declutter and allow women to monetise their wardrobes. We offer luxury designer pieces at affordable prices, making sure women feel great about shopping guilt-free. We also help to reduce textile waste to benefit ourselves and generations to come.

What’s a quote you live by?
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” – Anais Nin

Talk us through a pivotal moment in your life, where women helping women led to success.
When I asked my sister to help me launch HULA, she always gave me confidence, just as she did when we were young. I would never have been able to do it without her. I have also been fortunate to have experienced success within different female environments throughout my life. I came from a female-dominated family – a strong mother and aunties who went through a lot of challenges whilst raising families as single parents. I later chose to work in fashion, which quite often means you are part of an almost all-female cast, lead by fierce and dynamic female leaders. I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by so many women who inspire me. I believe we can achieve anything.

Tell us about a woman you admire.
My mother, who is sadly no longer with us, was a huge influence on me. She was not fortunate enough to have a proper education and began to work at the age of 15 when she immigrated to the UK. She had low-paid jobs in restaurants, as a part-time singer and hairdresser, but she always knew she could do better than that. When we were older, she took herself to college to fulfil her dream as a beauty therapist and finally owned a beauty salon. I now understand the sacrifices she made, the reasons she was not at home much and the “cloud of stress” that surrounded her. It must have been so hard running a business with two kids and with little income or help.

What are 3 tips you’d give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

  1. It is better for your staff and the company’s growth to have a compassionate and kind leader (and, FYI, this does not mean you are not a strong leader).
  2. Have close friends and family to confide in, who will listen to your emotional roller-coaster ride and not judge you.
  3.  Don’t let the idea that being a woman will hinder your chances of success take hold, because as soon as you have this thought in your head, you’ll have a needless step to climb.
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Laura Offe, Co-founder of Meraki Hospitality Group

How do you use your brand/role to support women?
Meraki Hospitality Group, which includes Uma Nota and BEDU, has very strong female representation in its branding. You’ll find visually striking murals of solo women expressing strength and happiness in all three outlets. We also work with local female entrepreneurs such as Elsa Jeandedieu (the artist behind our murals), Nicola Ip aka La_baleine_52 (the creative who does all of our branding) and Mariane Chan (who’s crafted beautiful ceramic plates and bowls for us at BEDU). We’re very proud of our management team, which is made up of 60% women and a female-only office which goes against the norm in hospitality.  We have a multicultural team and we are continuing to diversify the kitchen workforce as well, with two new female chefs who just joined us from Sāo Paulo at Uma Nota.

What’s a quote you live by?
“Success is no accident, it is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing” – Edson Arantes do Nascimento aka Pelé.

Talk us through a pivotal moment in your life, where women helping women led to success.
When I was working in London at the Shangri-La at The Shard, the Food & Beverage management team was composed of mostly women and I felt a strong sense of camaraderie and support from them. Whenever we needed help, it felt natural to send support or to have a quick chat to brainstorm and look at ways to work out a difficult situation. I think this is where I felt the most comfortable and open to express myself, because I felt completely understood and supported by the people I worked with.

Tell us about a woman you admire.
Ellen DeGeneres – to me she represents true grit. She lost everything when she was at the peak of her career when she came out on national television and yet she never let that stop her from achieving her goals. Today, she has one of the most successful talk shows in the US, is recognised globally and she never forgets to give back to the community.

What are 3 tips you’d give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

  1. Believe in yourself.
  2. Surround yourself with positivity.
  3. Don’t settle, keep pushing until you get what you want.

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by Tania Shroff in March 2019 and was updated in March 2020.

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