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The Founders

Meet the Sassy Mama Founders

This committed team of ladies made us what we are today – an amazing resource for Sassy Mamas around Hong Kong (as well as Singapore and Dubai!).

Click on a team member to get to know them
The Founders
Cindy Jeffrey

Cindy grew up on America’s East coast and after a childhood spent rising horses she followed the sun to Florida for university – well, who wouldn’t when water-skiing was on the class roster? A summer in Europe after graduation may have made her wonder why she ever studied finance, but it inspired her to get an MBA and move to Hong Kong on a two year contract. A British husband, 3 kids and 19 exhilarating years later, Hong Kong is most definitely home. When she’s not raising her tri- cultural family and  crunching numbers  – a skill we only wish we could replicate – she sometimes enjoys the odd day of waterskiing in Tai Tam, but if she’s honest these days a stand up paddle board is more her speed!

The Founders
Claire Breen Melwani

Claire grew up in Hong Kong and spent most of the 70’s collecting black rubber wristbands off oil drums, eating wah-muis, swimming at the club and skateboarding in the Branksome car park. Despite also spending time getting an English boarding school education and working within the hallowed halls of Condé Nast London, Hong Kong is most definitely home. From wet markets to neon lit skyscrapers, she loves it all. And while her childhood photos may show smog-free skies over the harbour, she still thinks this city is the best place to bring up her two boys. We love that despite her glamorous forays in luxury publishing, fashion and film, she freely admits given a choice she’d live in her high-tops and husband’s track pants.

The Founders
Hester Aba

Hester is originally from the incredibly glamorous city of Bristol, in England. Determined to escape her West-Country roots (though a love of good scrumpy should never be lost) she packed off for uni at Oxford to waste several years on a degree in Philosophy and never looked back… Following a stint in Switzerland eating too much fondue and meeting her future husband, they jumped at the chance to follow their dream of heading to Asia, and landed in Hong Kong in 2008. Along with partners-in-crime and fellow Tai-Tais, Maura Thompson and Natalie Firestone, she founded Sassy in 2009 and then Sassy Mama in 2011 after the birth of her daughter Elodie. Number 2 daughter Margot arrived in August 2012 and then two months later it was off to her new home in Singapore with tinies in tow. Hester is discovering the Lion City one shophouse at a time with a love for seeking out Singapore’s hidden secrets!

The Founders
Kate Swan Malin

Originally from the coast of Maine with the ocean in the backyard, Kate landed in Hong Kong on New Year’s Eve 2007 – literally stepping off the plane and into a cocktail dress for the countdown and a glass of champagne. Always up for an adventure (she and her hubby were supposed to have moved to Kazakhstan…it’s a long story), their arrival set the tone for what has been a love affair with HK ever since. Though officially a ‘trailing spouse’, in what can only be described as kismet she was able to transfer her job, and so the years before the birth of her now 2 and a half year old daughter were spent with her nose to the grindstone at an international auction house (balanced with nights at M1NT and weekends getaways to sunny beaches). During the quiet hours of her maternity leave she started a blog on the joys and challenges of being a new mum in HK.  Later – with a team of seven super talented, amazing women – that itty-bitty blog got a whole lot bigger, becoming the website Yummy Mummy Asia, which merged with the Sassy group in summer of 2012.

The Founders
Kelly Gave

Kelly was born and raised in Bartlesville, Oklahoma where she combined calf roping with being a badass line dancer. Despite daydreaming about living in New York or London while listening to The Cure, Kelly’s love of emo music didn’t stop her becoming president of the young Republicans, or graduating from Vanderbilt. Although a career in banking did find her living in her dream cities, love landed her in Hong Kong right as SARS hit. Never one to dodge a challenge, Kelly embraced the city as home, founding the GaveKal Endowment to fund HK and Asian charities in the child/education space. While she may spend half the summer and winter in Whistler enjoying the clean air and fresh beer, she can’t imagine raising her four children anywhere else but Hong Kong.

The Founders
Levina Li-Cadman

Levina was born in Hong Kong and spent her childhood living between her hometown and LA, where her style could only be best described as Californian cheerleader meets Asian debutante. When zinc lipstick, a hideous LA trend appeared in HK, Levina’s mother was forced to book her makeup lessons when she was home for the holidays! But sartorial style aside, if anyone defines the roller coaster lifestyle of Hong Kong, it is Levina. We are inspired by her endless energy: in addition to her art and design consultancy, working on this website and dedicating numerous hours to charity, she is also the proud mother of Harvey a very active 2 and a half year old. Plus, she she’s always up for a girls’ night, as long as good food and fine wine are involved.

The Founders
Maura Thompson

Hi! I am originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and I lived in New York City for three years before moving to Hong Kong in May 2008. This is my first experience living abroad and it has been one of the best decisions I ever made (sometimes I wonder if I will ever move back, but please don’t ever tell my mom that!). I am a total city girl and pride myself on being able to navigate the hills of Hong Kong in 5-inch heels. I am quite certain though that I will face plant one day on Pottinger Street and I just hope no one will be around to witness it. I love all things fitness related and I am at my happiest when doing Tree pose on my yoga mat.

The Founders
Sofia Berman

Sofia grew up in Sweden, the country where the sun never sets (or rises for that matter during the winter) and where as a child she doubled as an actress and starred in musicals as well as a popular children’s movie.  After obtaining a degree in media and communications, Sofia started working in advertising, which back then was code for “I get paid to party”. Sweet.  She left Stockholm in 2005 for love and London and a marketing job with a Forbes 500 company, but when her then boyfriend – now hubby – was offered a job in Hong Kong she jumped at the opportunity and headed east!

The Founders
Sooni Shroff-Gander

Sooni was born and brought up in HK on a diet of English novelists and Chinese food. She went to Oxford to study the only subject she ever loved, Literature, and returned to Hong Kong to become a writer. She started her own publishing firm and writes for the Conde Nast group, Time-Warner, the SCMP and The Financial Times amongst others. When she was pregnant, she reverted to childhood type, with cravings for Conrad and congee, much to the horror of the girls she worked with. It’s not surprising then, that her son and daughter are now in their teens and love Hong Kong, literature and Chinese food as much as she does. Well, her daughter does. Her son would rather be skiing in Switzerland.

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Cindy Jeffrey
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Claire Breen Melwani
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Hester Aba
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Kate Swan Malin
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Kelly Gave
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Levina Li-Cadman
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Maura Thompson
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Sofia Berman
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Sooni Shroff-Gander
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