Individuals who pursue their passions? Check.
Busy Women who are able to juggle a gazillion items? Check.
Heart for Hustle: In this series, The Busy Woman Project interviews a couple of amazing, strong Women of Asia who, in pursuit of their passions, moved from Corporate to Wellness. Think ex-bankers, lawyers, consultants to Boutique Fitness gym owners, Athleisure fashion brands and Wellness platform founders across multiple cities!
Follow our series as these ladies share their views on gender-related challenges, what drives them, tips for Busy Women (and yes, tech entrepreneurs) & more!
In conversation with Sonalie Figueiras - one half of Ekowarehouse - a global B2B platform connecting buyers with suppliers of certified organic products, and Green Queen - HK's healthy & sustainable living website. Sonalie & co-founder Tracy met as college roommates at University of Pennsylvania many years ago and have been best friends + business partners ever since!
"The honest truth is I love what I do and I am grateful to be working on my dreams every day. Being busy is a part of that and I embrace it."
What are you Busy with? What is your typical day like?
My typical day involves some serious multi-tasking as I run 2 businesses for the price of 1! Editing Green Queen articles, meeting with advertising clients, working with my development team on new software for Ekowarehouse, having strategy meetings with Tracy (my co-founder), researching wellness industry trends...and lots and lots of emailing - often hundred of messages a day!
Is being ‘Busy’ bad? What are your views on work/life balance?
The honest truth is I love what I do and I am grateful to be working on my dreams every day. Being busy is a part of that and I embrace it. I think work-life balance depends on how you define the term. I love working so working a lot does not feel unbalanced.
What is 'Wellness' to you?
Wellness to me means feeling free, energized, inspired, strong and at peace - mentally AND physically. It doesn't escape me that the concept of wellness remains, for much of the world's population, a non-achievable pursuit. Most people live incredibly difficult lives so I feel very lucky to be able to pursue my own personal wellness journey thanks to where and to whom I was born.
What are your Heath, Fitness & Wellness go-tos?
Eating home-cooked food made from well-sourced ingredients would be my go-to health advice. I can't eat out all the time- it's not how I grew up and it's not what works for my body.
What do you think is the biggest thing or trend in the Health, Fitness & Wellness scene in HK that has changed over the past few years?
I think the biggest trend of them all is how pervasive wellness has become! Yoga, Crossfit, Green Juice, Organic Food, Plant-Based Eating, Superfoods, Mindfulness, Conscious Capitalism, Zero Waste - all of these are part of a global awakening about the importance of living sustainably and our passion to live as healthily as possibly.
Do you think women support each other in Asia (more or less than in the West)?
Like with anything, it's a mixed bag: I've met incredibly supportive women and I've met not-so-supportive women. What's great about the wellness industry is that many of the founders are women and with Green Queen especially, we get to champion many of them here in Hong Kong!
Have you ever experienced gender-related challenges being a female business owner?
Absolutely! We have been at trade shows where men walk up and ask me where the CEO of the company is. Or we will go to meetings and men will call us girls. But to be honest, it's far more insidious than that. Institutional sexism is embedded in everyday culture! From frequent casual harassment at work to the low number of women VCs to the shortage of female-funded startups to the way women are depicted in the media to the uneven distribution of domestic responsibilities between many couples to the fact that women still earn less than men for the same job...sexism is everywhere and it's going to be awhile before that's not the case.
What drives you? Where or what do you think shaped your entrepreneurial drive / gave you the confidence?
I am driven by a deep desire to solve problems on a global scale. I've been like that since I was a small child. My entrepreneurial drive and confidence was shaped by my mother, who is a formidable and inspiring entrepreneur herself, not to mention a creative visionary, former supermodel and the best cook in town!
Who or what continues to inspire you to grow & push boundaries?
Every day, challenges and obstacles come up in our businesses. I love problem-solving and every time I deal with an issue, I grow as an entrepreneur.
What are some of the values you and/or your brand(s) go by?
Our mission is to make living a healthier life easy and accessible. For Green Queen, that means offering our audience authentic, well-researched wellness content that offers them choices, solutions and alternatives. For Ekowarehouse, that means working to make sourcing certified organic products safe and convenient.
Define ‘that moment’ when you decided to leave the corporate life to build your own brand?
When I realized that there was no way to source certified organic products online in a safe and convenient way after a few weeks of research, I knew I had found my cause and that my corporate life was over!
Any 1 tip for Women in Tech?
Use data to make decisions - it's a non-negotiable part of having a tech company.
Could you share your favorite tip / tool in the Google universe for ladies looking to expand their platform reach?
The most important pieces of advice we give are 1) to measure whatever it is you are doing (again with the data!) and 2) to use free tools like Google Analytics and Search Console to understand your business better.
Know someone who fits the Heart For Hustle profile? We'd love to hear from you! Drop us an email at [email protected]
YOU can do your part by supporting a For Women business or simply start by celebrating and shouting out another Woman's achievement. Let's empower one another to live, feel and be better.