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That Mama: Maggie Wong, Previous Vogue Girl and Co-Founder of Worth The Fuss

maggie wong
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This Vogue Mama is worth the fuss

A new bar has popped up in Causeway Bay’s Morrison Hill promising to liven up the area with its widely delicious cocktails and playful concoctions. In addition to the locally-inspired drinks, there is also an impressive collection of whiskies – most notably from Japan. The bar is intimate, cosy and exudes a good-vibes-only kind of feel. With live DJs spinning chill tunes, a small seating area around the bar, and friendly staff, you’ll know you’re at Worth The Fuss, or, as it’s more commonly known, WTF. One of the co-owners behind this up-and-coming joint is Maggie Wong, a mama to two boys and former Vogue New York gal. When we met, we instantly connected about #mumlife. She candidly shares stories about how she went from working at the ultimate fashion magazine to opening a hot new bar in Hong Kong, all while being a present mama to her kids. Read more as she dishes in our next edition of That Mama.

maggie wong

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up in Hong Kong.
I am a born-and-raised Hong Kong girl. I left HK at age 17 and went to the U.S. for college (she attended the University of Kansas) and then I worked in New York City for about 13 years. Serendipitously, I met my husband during happy hour at the Rockerfeller Centre ice-skating rink. We got engaged, married and my husband’s job brought us to Australia (where I worked for Vogue Australia), then Singapore, and now we are back in Hong Kong and loving it.

We heard you have a background working for Vogue in New York! What was that experience like?
Yes, I was one of the lucky girls who got to work for the Fashion Bible. Working for Vogue was an incredible experience. As you can imagine, you get to work with the world’s best media industry talent. But I guess the most surprising thing for me was how nice and professional people were – and not the stereotypical personalities that people often portray. Working for such an institution was a dream-come-true for many of us, and it still feels a little unreal when I reminisce about it, which is pretty much every day.

maggie wong

What was your career like pre-baby as compared to post-baby?
My pre-baby career was full of excitement. When you don’t have a lot of baggage, you tend to take a lot more risks and you can afford to spend a lot of time focusing on your career. But after kids, for me, my priorities have changed. Kids and family are my focus now and that’s why this bar business is good for me because the hours are flexible and it’s open at night when the kids are in bed!

How did you get involved with WTF and where did the name come from?
I met my business partner, Philippe, not long ago. While we both love drinking and enjoy well-made cocktails, we were both tired of the LKF scene. When we discovered a spot available on Morrison Hill Road (Causeway Bay), we acquired it and created WTF to bring this sleepy neighbourhood a much-needed attitude adjustment. WTF stands for “worth the fuss,” as making outstanding cocktails is worth fussing over.

maggie wong's bookshelf, shelf goals

What makes WTF different from all the other watering hole spots in Causeway Bay?Compared to most bars in Causeway Bay, WTF is less commercial and a lot more intimate and personal. The interior is warm but modern with a little industrial feel to it. The best thing about our bar is the feeling when you step in; it’s like you’re in your best friend’s home and he or she happens to know how to make really, really good cocktails.

What are your top three must order cocktails and why?
My top three WTF cocktails are:

Bamboolicious: the hero in this drink is a Chinese liquor called Green Bamboo Leaf, which is light, sweet and infused with a dozen Chinese herbal medicines. Mixing it with Mandarin Vodka brings a great combination of East and West. (Ed note: I can attest that this cocktail is sublime and understandably one of its most popular order!)

WTF Gin & Tonic: I love this drink because it’s so refreshing and pleasant to look at. I particularly enjoy the fragrance in the blossom-infused gin. We top it off with mixed berries and edible flowers. It has a feminine touch, which I love. (Ed note: another Sassy Mama tried this one and said it was one of the best she’s had!)

WTF Whisky Fix: Whisky Fix is one of the classic cocktails from the U.S.. Unfortunately, it’s not a cocktail you find everywhere in Hong Kong. You will notice that our version of the Whisky Fix is created with cinnamon-infused smoky whisky, which adds depth in flavour and makes it outstanding in terms of taste.

Read more: 3 Gin Cocktail Recipes for Entertaining

We heard you have quite a collection of premium whiskies! What are some of your favourites?
We have over 40 types of whisky. Personally, I am a beginner when it comes to whisky drinking. Therefore, I tend to like the milder ones like Togouchi, Hibiki 12, Date Blended, Macallan Amber or Gold. 

maggie and her sons

What is your recipe for the perfect work/life balance?
My kids are older now (5 and 7 years old). They are in school most of the time so I am quite free during the day. I get most of my work done from the early morning to the afternoon, just before kids come home. And when I have to go to the bar, its usually late at night after 9pm.

How do you save time? Can you share any organisational tips and tricks?
When it comes to my wardrobe, I organise my clothing in colours. It helps me locate what I want to wear making getting ready in the morning easier!

maggie wong and son

What do you do to get in that “me” time?
I love working out to recharge. Yoga and Pilates is definitely my top two choices when I need some good “me” time. When I get into that “zen” mode, I feel energetic, refreshed and peaceful all at the same time. I consider that prime “me” time.

Read more:Our Guide to Yoga Gyms for Mums and Kids

What do you find to be the most challenging part of parenting?
The most challenging part of parenting for me occurs during the week. The kids come home quite late from school and activities. When they should be getting on with their homework, they understandably deserve some playtime after a full day in school. Hauling them out of that fun time and getting them back into working-mode is not easy.

Favourite family holiday spot?
New Zealand will always be my favourite family spot. We just can’t get enough of it! The great outdoors is simply the best, especially for kids. The boys had their first fishing, rock climbing and surfing experience there. The beauty of the country is endless.

frames decor hutch

What are your favourite spots to eat at with your family in Hong Kong?
I have a huge extended family in Hong Kong, so my favourite spots happen to be good dim sum restaurants – perfect for gathering large groups. We love going to Lei Garden as well as Golden Lily in Cyberport. When it is just my kids and hubby, we like to explore Kennedy Town. There are so many new little restaurants opened. We especially like Catch and Butcher & Baker.

Read more: Our Favourite Brunch Spots in Kennedy Town, 5 Dim Sum Restaurants Serving Up Cute and Playful Eats

maggie wong's sons

What’s the best advice you’ve received as a parent?
The best advice I have ever received is from my mother-in-law: give the kids a 5-minute-warning on everything from bedtime to leaving the house to shutting iPads off, etc. That way they have time to prepare without any surprises.

Worst advice?
The Gina Ford advice was definitely not my cup of tea. I feel like the principles don’t apply to me anymore because my kids are older.  But the whole no eye-contact and don’t show emotion when picking up a newborn at night is something I simply don’t agree with. To each their own!

home style hutch decor

Something that you wish someone had told you about motherhood?
I wish someone had been able to convey to me just how amazing being a mum is. There is so much joy, fun and excitement. If someone had told me that, I would have had babies earlier!

What has been your most humbling moment as a mum?
The most humbling moments as a mother has to be giving birth to my children. This act has been repeated billions of times in mankind’s history, but until you experience it, you have no true sense of its gravity. First you are nervous, then comes the pain, then the sweat and tears, with a euphoric feeling taking over your body at the end when you first lay eyes on these little human beings. “Humbling” is an understatement. Childbirth is a life-changing moment. 

maggie wong and husband

How do you keep the romance between you and your husband alive with such a busy work and family life?
We make sure to go on date nights once in a while to keep the romance alive. But I admit, we need to put more effort into this part of our lives. One thing we love to do together is go on massage dates. I always find that relaxing and enjoyable. It would be nice to go on more weekend getaways and take advantage of being in Asia… but truth be told, both of us would rather be on vacation with our boys!

As a mama, I wish I were better at…
Being patient with their homework! I’m sure you see a reoccurring theme here! When I find myself raising my voice I need to walk away and take a few minutes’ break. They tend to do better when I am calm but I guess that’s an obvious thing!

maggie wong and sons in living room

I wake up in the middle of night thinking about…

  1. What I have to do the next day.
  2. Things on my To-Do list but still haven’t been done.
  3. How do I get back to sleep?!

Bedtime is always smoother when…
The kids are out all day and they’re tired – so bed time is a lot easier on those days. After a nice warm bath followed by a half an hour long bedtime story, they’re fast asleep shortly after. And for me, a glass of red wine always does the trick!

Read more: 10 Bedtime Books to Put Your Kiddos to Sleep

My favourite moment of the day is…
I have two! In the morning when my kids come to my bed, crawl in and snuggle with me. It’s the best! The second is when hubby comes home, and the kids run to the door to welcome Daddy with lots of excitement.

Thanks to the talented Michelle Proctor of Michelle Proctor Photography for all of the beautiful images above! Follow her on Instagram @michellejproctor and Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichelleProctorPhotography.

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