1 August, 2012

That Girl: Cara Grogan, supermodel, television presenter & co-founder of The Genie Concept

1 August, 2012

This week’s That Girl is the gorgeous Cara Grogan – supermodel, television presenter and now co-founder of The Genie Concept, a fab juice cleanse programme (check out our review here!) with a cute little café in Sheung Wan too. How does she manage to fit it all in?!

We chat with Cara about the rollercoaster ride of starting your own business, her awesome rescue dog Roxy, her craziest modelling shoot and get her take on the Size 0 debate.

Fill us in on your background and where you grew up. How did you end up in HK?
I grew up on a dairy farm in a small country town in Victoria Australia. I was living in Singapore when my current manager convinced me it was a good idea to move to Hong Kong!

You have such an exotic heritage (a mix of Australian, Singaporean, Swiss, Irish, Thai, German and Arabic)! Are there any ways you can see the mix of cultures feed into your personality?
Yeah, I guess it makes me confused! It has made me very opened-minded and empathetic, I think. My parents are both from different religions and worlds – my dad came from a middle to upper class family background and my mum from poverty. It has moulded me into the person I am, it’s just hard to pinpoint why.

Where do you live? How have you made your home your own?
I live in Central and I guess I’ve made it my own by all the photos I’ve put up and my beautiful Roxy [Cara’s dog]. I miss my family so very much, so I love to be surrounded by pictures of them. My house isn’t exactly what I want it to be after living in Hong Kong for 7 years, but I have been in the mind-set of ‘Oh, it will only be one more year till I go home’ – I think everyone says that here though! Anyway, I have recently realised that I’m kidding myself and this might be home for a while, so I think it’s time to spend a little more money on making my house into a home. I have started to renovate my roof now!

How would you describe your personal style?
I guess boho, natural… God knows! My style is different everyday!

Where do you shop in Hong Kong? Any secret finds you can let us in on?
Honestly, I’m not a huge shopper. I love markets so I love to go to Bangkok a couple of times a year. I’m a regular at Club Monaco, Zara and small boutiques around Soho. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the luxury brands too but not too much at one time. I’m not very flashy.

There’s a little second-hand shop down the alley across from H&M called Me & George. I love to go there to find cool little vintage and second-hand pieces to mix and match with other brands.

What are your must-have beauty products? Where do you go for hair/nails/maintenance?
I’m a tomboy so doing my hair and nails is painful. I hate it! (I know I’m weird!) I barely even brush my hair it’s terrible. But when I do have to do it for work, I like to go to IYARA for my nails. Not only is it great, it’s only a 30 second walk from my front door! As far as my hair goes, Marco Chan – he is the best.

I love beauty products though (there is a girl in me deep somewhere I guess!). I’m so lucky that through my jobs I get to try so many amazing brands. At the moment, I’m in love with Cle de Peau. They have the best mask and concealer ever.

What are your favourite restaurants and bars in Hong Kong?
For coffee, Oolaa or Genie Concept (of course!); for cocktails, Blue Butcher (but only the drinks!); for food, Bookworm Café and Chilli Fagara; and for cakes, Agnes b Café!

Can you tell us more about your experience of adopting your rescue dog, Roxy?
Adopting a dog in Hong Kong has been the best thing ever. I’m crazy obsessed with her, it’s nuts! Have you ever seen the movie ‘Best in Show’? Well, that’s totally me haha! She has changed my life positively in every way. I get out more, I do more things outdoors and I’m showered with dribbly-related love all day long… it’s rad!

Where are your fave dog-friendly spots in HK?
I love Bookworm Café on Lamma Island. I go there once a week; the food is amazing and they love my Roxy! Then after an amazing veggie meal, we head to the Power Station Beach (which is dog-friendly too!).

How did you get the idea for The Genie Concept?
I had been wanting to start my own company for a very long time, something related to health or a café. Then Melanie [White, the co-founder] and I kind of had the same idea at the same time, so we did it! The concept of juice fasting is obviously not our brilliant idea, although I wish it was… The concept is very popular around the world and we thought it was kinda crazy that it had not been introduced to Hong Kong. The results from juice fasting are amazing so we wanted to share that with Hong Kongers. [Check out our review of The Genie Concept juice cleanse here!]

How are you enjoying running your own business? Any tips for girls wanting to start up on their own?
Coping would be the word! There have been sweat, tears and smiles the whole way – such an emotional rollercoaster. Some days I’m like ‘WHY WHY!!!’ and others I’m so happy and proud, I could burst. Sometimes I stand outside our shop and I’m like ‘WOW you did this all by yourself’, it’s a great feeling. I’m especially over the moon when I get emails from clients telling me how we have changed their life. That makes it all worth it.

My advice for starting your own business is to get a consultant, hire a Cantonese speaker and go for gold. If we can do it, you can too!

Is being a model just like what we see on America’s Next Top Model? What’s the craziest editorial you’ve ever shot?
NO! Most of the time it’s not glamorous at all. And believe it or not it’s not as easy as it looks. It is an amazing job though, don’t get me wrong – I feel truly blessed. Models have a lot of spare time so we are very lucky and if it wasn’t for my modelling career, I don’t think I could have started my company.

I have been modelling for ten years so it’s hard to pinpoint just one shoot, but I did a crazy commercial for Nivea last year. I had to get all frisky with this male model… Tongue and all! It was especially weird as he was a friend of my fiancé. My fiancé hates the ad but I think it’s pretty hot though!

What’s your take on the Size 0 debate? Do you think models and the fashion industry have a responsibility to show girls healthy role models?
Yes, I do think we have a responsibility. It’s important to be healthy. We all want to look good or our best but it’s important to also know your body and be happy with who you are. We all were built to be special and unique, not the same. Beautiful and sexy comes in all shapes and sizes. That saying, I know that some models are just naturally skinny and others aren’t but as role models, the industry needs to be more aware of the damage it can do to women.

What would you never wear and what are your five fashion essentials everyone should have in their closet?
I would never wear FUR and I hate coloured leggings!

My five must-haves are: a good quality trench coat, a vintage gold ring, a vintage gold necklace, a backpack and a hat.

What are some of your most memorable experiences from your tv presenting work?
I work for Channel V, Starworld and NatGeo now and it’s the best job in the world – my dream job! I have only been working as a host for about 18 months and I have already had so many amazing experiences. One of my faves was a shoot for NatGeo in Fiji, the crew were so amazing and we had a blast. I just remember thinking, ‘Is this really my job?!’ – AMAZING!

You’ve travelled all round the world with your career… What would you say makes HK unique?
It’s such an eclectic city, a great example of East meets West. You never know what will be around the next corner!

All photos in the That Girl article above were taken by the hugely talented Sabrina Sikora of Sabrina Sikora Photography – get in touch with her at [email protected].

Check out the rest of our That Girls here!

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