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Hong Kong Mompreneurs Who Rock – Influencers In The City

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Mompreneurs Who Rock Hong Kong

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we at Little Steps are supporting and recognising some of Hong Kong’s incredible Mompreneurs! It’s no secret that this city is full of exceptional moms who take the term ‘busy’ to a whole new level. Read on to hear the story behind these extraordinary women who juggle running a business and a family. Be inspired by their useful tips on keeping a healthy work-life balance as well as their top places for family fun in the city!

  • CLAIRE YATES: Founder Of The Lion Rock Press & Co-Founder of EcoDrive Hong Kong

    About Claire: Claire is a Eurasian mother of two, who started The Lion Rock Press in 2013, specializing in Hong Kong and Singapore-themed gifts and stationery. Claire also co-founded an NGO called EcoDrive Hong Kong, which raises awareness of single-use plastic. Be sure to check out her anti-single-use plastic song in collaboration with Baby Shark, which has had more than 675,000 views!

    Top Tip For A Healthy Work-Life Balance: “Now they’re a bit older, I share much more of the business with the kids too. My son does his home school from my showroom once a week and they help with the packing and folding of the stock. It’s fun for them to see how a real business works, and the effort it takes for it to be a success.”

    Favorite Things To Do With The Kids: "Our favorite things to do are always in nature. We love to camp on the beach and listen to the ocean (beach clean-up included). We love to hike as remotely as possible and hunt for bugs and upload our finds to the iNaturalist app (@teamyateshk) so that we’re adding to the national database. My son and I are keen wildlife photographers, and we love to go up to Mai Po to hang out in the hides hoping to spot elusive species – he’s mad about kingfishers and mongoose!"

  • NEELAM DASWANI: Founder Of purebuzz And Certified Health Coach

    About Neelam: Neelam has been running the successful boutique PR firm, purebuzz, for over 15 years. Most recently, Neelam became certified via the Integrated Institute of Nutrition and is now a qualified Health Coach, working with client's bio-individual needs to successfully reach their health goals. She is also a mom to a teenage son, Tahir.

    Top Tip For A Healthy Work-Life Balance: “I am very conscious about not overscheduling my week as I find it very difficult to take time out and get anything done when I do. I try to not be out 2 nights in a row and limit dinners to 2-3 times per week. I also take a mid-afternoon break where I switch everything off to meditate or take a power nap. It makes me a happier, nicer mom and I am definitely more focused. Self-care is my number one tip – I have no guilt when it comes to putting myself first!”

    Favorite Things To Do With The Kids: “My son is the love of my life and prior to Covid, my most favorite travel companion! We LOVED traveling together, exploring sites, and eating our way all over the world. More recently, we spend Sundays hiking and getting lost, then grabbing brunch. We also love playing Rummington and of course, he loves it when there’s money involved and he makes a cash load. His favorite thing to do is to put me to bed, as I tend to retire or at least get in bed earlier than him. It gives him great pleasure to hug and tuck me in.”

  • MICHELLE BANG: Co-Founder Of The R Collective

    About Michelle: Michelle specializes in launching mission-driven ventures, and Co-Founded BYT, now The R Collective, an award-winning environmentally conscious fashion brand that has sold through Net-a-Porter, Lane Crawford, and Barneys. As CEO, Michelle won first prize in Hong Kong for the Chivas Venture social impact competition, gaining entry for an accelerator at Oxford and a final global pitch in Hollywood. This was a follow on to her work at sustainable fashion charity Redress. She is a board member on fellow mompreneur Pia Wong's organization, Bring Me a Book, and also a Founding Member and Impact Chair of ATEC, Asia Technology Entrepreneurship Conference and Startup Competition. Michelle was born in Brooklyn, New York, is the child of Korean immigrants, and moved to Hong Kong with her husband Richard in 2006. Their two children, Elliot and Amber, were born and raised in Hong Kong. Michelle is an eternal learner, always curious and reading to learn about how to make more of a positive impact in our increasingly complex world. She is also really into health and wellness, loves to cook healthy meals with her family, be outdoors in nature, and draw.

    Top Tip For A Healthy Work-Life Balance: "I find myself in restorative and meditative states when I am focused on creative pursuits like cooking and drawing. I also try to remember to pause and breathe, which helps my body to come back to homeostasis. This is so important from a medical standpoint, and something that I wish I could have told my younger self! I've learned over time that the state of our balance moves organically and this needs constant management, so one of my key wellness essentials has been to build a community of people around me where we make it a priority to support each other constantly."

    Favorite Things To Do With The Kids: "One of my favorite things to do is to read picture books with my children, even though my eldest is in middle school. It's a special time when we bond, act goofy and talk about what is important to us. Having conversations with my kids around lots of topics has been one of my greatest jobs as they get older and are forming really interesting ideas about the world."

  • NICOLE DENHOLDER: Founder of Next Chapter Raise

    About Nicole: Nicole is the founder of Next Chapter Raise, a funding ecosystem designed to inspire, educate, and connect female founders with savvy investors and strategic advisors. There are two programs, the first being the Savvy Club, a membership network of female founders all focused on understanding revenue, different types of capital, and growth hacks to build their businesses. The second is Capital Club, supporting female founders looking to fundraise over US$100,000 on their fundraising journey. Their mission is simple; we want to get women funded faster. Originally from Australia, Nicole has been based in Hong Kong since 2003. She is married with two children and one kitten, and together they love to swim, hike, and enjoy all the wonderful things that Hong Kong has to offer.

    Top Tip For A Healthy Work-Life Balance: "Planning in advance is key for me. I always write down the three big things I want to achieve each week as that gives me a focus in a lot of my work. It's also important to structure your time so you mentally separate between work time and family time. Otherwise, its easy to feel you are not doing well at either or get overwhelmed."

    Favorite Things To Do With The Kids: "If the weather is good, we love to hike or go swimming. But we also love doing puzzles and movie nights! It's always a trick to find the right movie that everyone will enjoy. Plus we all love to prepare and decorate for all the big celebrations such as Christmas, Chinese New Year, and Easter."

  • SHEA STANLEY: Founder Of Little Steps

    About Shea: As a new mom in Hong Kong, Shea longed for a resource offering fun, insider tips for parents in Asia. In 2011, she founded Little Steps Asia, the leading website and weekly e-newsletter dedicated to delivering the inside scoop to parents on what to do, buy, and discover in Asia and beyond. Shea lives in Clearwater Bay with her two children (ages 9 and 11). She enjoys an active lifestyle full of hiking, paddle boarding, yoga, and of course exploring the best of Hong Kong (and normally traveling too!). She also loves learning new skills for work, life, and parenting too.

    Top Tip For A Healthy Work-Life Balance: "Sleep - it is totally underrated and the key to my balance. I also have a morning ritual (which is mostly routine) that always jump starts my day just right - exercise, coffee, meditation, and me-time. Little Steps operates on a flexible schedule which allows for a balance of work/home life as we make our own schedule around what makes us the most productive given all the wild life demands. Every day is different!"

    Favorite Things To Do With The Kids: "We are always exploring Hong Kong! Recently, we tried TreeTop Cottage (which offers unique zip lines and adventure courses), we love camping, biking, hiking, and visiting Hong Kong's beaches. Recently, we have also been hitting up all of Hong Kong's big tourist must-dos as the lines are short. It's a great time to tick these off with the kids!"

  • SIJIA TIONG: Founder Of Mulubee

    About Sijia: Last year, Sijia introduced a rare form of honey, Mulubee, to Hong Kong.  Sijia lives with her husband, two children, and a dog in the Mid-Levels area of Hong Kong. They are an active pack and love spending time outdoors. During the weekends, you can find them on the beach, cycling in the New Territories, or on hiking trails with their furry friend. Sijia also loves horse riding and can't wait for her daughter to join her soon.

    Top Tip For A Healthy Work-Life Balance: "Top tip would be to have some me-time every week. I jog with my dog (he is low maintenance) to clear my mind and I don't forget to pamper myself with a massage afterward. Outside my busy work, I take afternoons off to spend time with each child to ensure they get my full attention. E.g. I love watching my son play football and wait till he turns his head to me when he scores. I also enjoy taking a stroll with my daughter during which she will spill all her secrets of what happens at school. Kids aside, I schedule dinner dates with my husband for a great meal and talk."

    Favorite Things To Do With The Kids: "Cycling, swimming, hiking, and bouncing off the trampolines at Ryze."

  • BRENDA WILSON: Founder Of Swoon Soirées

    About Brenda: After working in the corporate world for 20 years, Brenda decided to switch gears and become a full-time mom to her only child. Once her daughter started Kindergarten, she decided it would be the right time to start Swoon Soirées, Hong Kong's go-to destination for unique partyware. When Brenda is not hosting playdates, she loves big wines, delicious food, and amazing desserts with friends. She is also an avid tennis player and party planner.

    Top Tip For A Healthy Work-Life Balance: "We had made some important decisions about the structure of the business early on to help maintain a quality work/life balance. That included starting an online business vs. a brick & mortar store. Keeping inventory close by to reduce time away from home while increasing the speed of delivery to our clients. And, finally ensuring global connectivity to allow us to spend summers outside of Hong Kong with family and still deliver a seamless customer experience."

    Favorite Things To Do With The Kids: "Throw a party just because: as you can imagine, we are big fans of a good party. We love hosting mini parties for just about anything in our house. "It's Tuesday, invite the neighbor kids over! It a cotton candy party." Have a sunset picnic on the beach. We have a favorite picnic blanket and love nothing else than to combine that with some gorgeous nibbles, special beverages (for all ages!), and some great friends. Scooter around Hong Kong. Turns out, scooters aren't just fun for the kids. We have procured adult scooters, too, and have a hoot weaving our way around the waterfront, circling Disney's Inspiration Lake, or through a local country park."

  • MARIE SWARBRECK: Founder Of FLEXImums

    About Marie: Marie's career began in the communications, sales, and events sector, working across Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Canada. After her daughter Arabelle, she found herself in need of flexible yet challenging work and little to no options to choose from. In between juggling a few jobs and raising Arabelle, Marie realized many parents in Hong Kong are talented professionals who would jump at the opportunity to work a flexible yet fulfilling job and achieve a better work-life balance. This was the beginning of her new adventure, the birth of FLEXImums. Marie is now the mother of both Arabelle and a son named Jude. She and her husband Sebastien (whom she met in Hong Kong over 10 years ago) live on South Lantau and love the beach, camping, and hiking as a family and with friends.

    Top Tip For A Healthy Work-Life Balance: "As a working mom, and certainly when working from home, it can be difficult to switch off and balance family and work. I have found that during this last year people have been tough on themselves or don't allow themselves to dedicate time to their children during the working hours. I personally believe that giving yourself space to be flexible and work around priorities will give you more family and work satisfaction. To stay sane and healthy it is, of course, important to take breaks, move (do sports, work out and go for a walk) and eat healthily!"

    Favorite Things To Do With The Kids: "As we live on South Lantau we spend quite a lot of time outdoors. We love going to the beach, hikes, cycle, and bbq."

  • HELENE RAO: Deputy COO Of Mother's Choice

    About Helene: Helene is a French national who grew up living in France, the UK, and the United States. She arrived in Hong Kong 27 years ago and together with her husband and four children call the city home. For the past six years, she has had the great privilege of working for Mother's Choice, a Hong Kong NGO serving children without families. Whilst working at Goldman Sachs, where she had spent the majority of her career, Helene was fortunate to hear Alia Eyres, Mother's Choice's CEO, speak at one of their women's events. This inspired her to make a career change and leave the world of finance. Helene loves to spend her free time with family and friends and to unwind, she loves running and hiking. Recently, they became a foster family and are now caring for a baby boy. She has truly loved the opportunity to care for a newborn again.

    Top Tip For A Healthy Work-Life Balance: “Play to your strengths and focus on the things only you can do. I have learned to outsource the things that other people can do better or more easily wherever possible! More recently, I have also been much more intentional about blocking personal “me” time during my week for reflection and journaling, a habit that helps me to clear my mind, achieve my goals, and be more creative!"

    Favorite Things To Do With The Kids: "After a very busy week for myself and my family, my favorite activity with them is our Friday Family Dinner ritual. We sit down for a proper full meal, “French Style”: with drinks, canapés, starters, mains, dessert, etc. Sharing great food, we regroup together on all that happened in the week. There is laughter, lots of opinions and debates, and great camaraderie. It is the highlight of our week!"

  • KATYA VIRSHILAS: Founder Of BallroomBees

    About Katya: After trying to find dance classes for her two sons back in 2017, Katya realized there are not many dance classes that are cool and suitable for boys. She is Russian and loves ballet, so has nothing against it, but she really wanted to inspire the boys to get involved with dance. BallroomBees was officially born in 2019 and it's grown to over seven locations across Hong Kong and is now expanding into schools and kindergartens. Katya moved to Hong Kong from London in 2017 where she had been working on Strictly Come Dancing. Her husband, Klaus Kongsdal, is a former World Latin Champion dancer and a coach to many top couples around the world as well as an international judge and entrepreneur. They live in Clearwater Bay with their two sons and love to cook, eat, and explore all of Hong Kong's hidden gems.

    Top Tip For A Healthy Work-Life Balance: “It’s been really tough running a business during Covid as well as homeschooling the kids but I feel like everyone is in the same boat. I get inspiration from my kids and most of the program for BallroomBees comes from me trying it on my kids. Children love to dance and be silly with their parents so I encourage everyone to have a family boogie!"

    Favorite Things To Do With The Kids: "We are huge fans of taking the boys to Minisports classes and camps all over HK, as well as SaiKung Sting Rays, exploring beaches and kid-friendly restaurants like Fritz! Disneyland, Ocean Park, and family dinners with friends. We recently got introduced to camping in Hong Kong which is incredible!!!!! Our Dutch friends took us once and we are hooked."

  • AMELIE DIONNE-CHAREST: Founder Of AD MediLink And Healthy Matters

    About Amelie: Amelie co-founded two businesses in the health and wellness space: AD MediLink, which provides medical insurance advice and brokerage services, and Healthy Matters, which brings trusted health information to families in Hong Kong through events, publications, and online platforms. She is a lawyer by training (in medical law) and became an entrepreneur by accident and out of her personal dissatisfaction with medical insurance and the lack of trusted health information. Hailing from Montreal, she is the mother of two young children and wife to Julien, who is both her life and business partner. Together they are building their two businesses and a life that is meaningful and aligned with who they are. They have lived in Hong Kong for over seven years and while they absolutely love it here, they can't wait to travel and see their families again. She is hoping that Hong Kong's vaccination program will allow them to travel to Canada and France this coming Christmas.

    Top Tip For A Healthy Work-Life Balance: “Taking time for yourself. While I love people, I can only really recharge from getting some quiet and alone time. For the past six months, I have been taking all Saturday afternoons to myself to relax and do things I enjoy. I usually read the newspapers (I love the FT Weekend), go for a walk listening to music, or book a manicure."

    Favorite Things To Do With The Kids: "I love building or creating things with my kids. Whether it's arts and crafts or a new Lego box to mount, I love the satisfaction we get working as a team focused on one objective. In the summers, we enjoy going to Shek'O beach in the morning (I'm Canadian and can't tolerate the heat past noon) followed by a delicious Thai lunch. In the Winter, we love going to Monkey Hill and walking along the trail before we go for lunch. On Sundays, we love having dim sum and crossing the harbor back and forth. The parents get their fix (coffee) while the kids get the excitement of the Star Ferry."

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