If you’ve lived in Hong Kong awhile, you’re probably familiar with the detox craze that’s sweeping Hong Kong: from juice cleanses to raw food diets to yoga retreats and everything in-between, it seems as if everyone in Hong Kong is on the detox bandwagon! We sat down with Mamapreneurs Ann and Angela from one of the city’s most popular cleanses, Punch Detox, to get the low-down on the benefits of juicing, the best way to implement a detox programme and whether it’s safe to get the kids involved!
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you become interested in health and detox?
Angela: We’re both Hong Kong locals, but spent a lot of time abroad and were lucky to have gone to some of the best schools in the U.S: Ann graduated from Yale, and I graduated from Harvard. After business school, I was in lifestyle marketing for luxury brands and overlooking skincare, health care and fashion markets all around the world: first with L’Oreal in NY, then Biotherm in Seoul and finally Stella McCartney in Hong Kong.
Like a lot of Hong Kong professionals though, Ann and I used to work over 100 hours a week and abuse our bodies by eating, drinking and sleeping poorly. After we both had kids, we decided we needed to make a big health change, so we took the plunge into a two-week detox: on the other side came out two women we hardly recognised – healthy, vivacious and young in ways we hadn’t felt for years. And we wanted to share that!
Ann: I grew up in a lovely Victorian house in Connecticut, but the real centrepiece was my mum’s vegetable garden. I still remember the bursting flavours of her heirloom tomatoes. I’ve always been interested in health: my mum shared her passion for healthy living and nutrition with me, and now I can do the same with my husband and our three kids.
Before starting Punch Detox, I earned a Professional Diploma from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York and an Advanced Certificate in Nutrition from the University of Hong Kong. My favourite job other than my current one was making desserts for a department store in Thailand and running my own healthy cooking classes on the side. After cooking for Manhattan’s 3-Michelin-starred restaurant, Jean-Georges, it was a natural transition to creating delicious juice recipes for Punch Detox.
Punch Detox was the first company to introduce juice detoxing to Asia. We established in Hong Kong in 2010, but before opening to the public, we invested two critical years in R&D to make sure we had the best product in terms of nutrition, taste and the experience. We wanted to make something to nourish our friends and families, something we could be proud of and share.
Relying on the knowledge from our nutrition degrees and Ann’s culinary expertise from her days as a fine-dining chef in NYC, we spent those two years developing different juices and juice combinations to create an effective detox program. We sought the feedback of 200 people to tweak our recipes, offerings and service to make sure it was right for Hong Kong people. Based on the number of repeat customers we have, we think we’ve got it right.
Our inspiration came from our own two-week detox experience; we wanted to make it easy for Hong Kong men and women to make that healthy jumpstart, too.
Tell us a bit more about the company. Are you just in Hong Kong and do you have plans to expand?
Punch Detox is Asia’s first juice detox company, established in Hong Kong since 2010. We provide the best juice cleanse programs using raw, cold-pressed and unpasteurised juices to fill your body with nutrients, give your body a rest, and as a result, help your liver, kidneys, lungs, skin and intestines naturally eliminate toxins.
In order to provide high-quality and diverse ingredients for our juices, we source from around the world: organic farms such as Earthbound Farms in California and small family organic farms in Australia. We also source from farms in northern Thailand as well as local organic farms. We use a specially-made U.S. hydraulic cold-press (The Norwalk) that extracts five times more of the vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are so important for detoxification.
Punch Detox is led by a core business team comprised of Ann and Angela, and an invaluable team of mothers that are part of the Aberdeen community where our kitchen resides. We’re really passionate about our community, so we also partner with local and international charities and social enterprises, such as Table for Two, The Adventist Hospital Foundation, and Hong Kong Recycles.
Hong Kong is our first and primary market. Over the past four years, we have cultivated a lot of happy customers who come back to us again and again. In order to introduce juice detoxing and healthy lifestyles to more people in Asia, we expanded into Singapore earlier this year! People in Singapore can now enjoy our cleanses and order from www.punchdetox.com.sg!
Our juice cleanses, specifically pressed only using our U.S.-made hydraulic press, give our customers a cleaner, healthier mind and body. For most, it’s a jumpstart to a healthier life. The tangible benefits are many: you’ll feel lighter, more energised, have a stronger immune system, improved digestion, be able to concentrate better, have fewer cravings, sleep better, and likely lose weight.
We created the cleanses with Hong Kong people in mind, so we made sure that it’s easy for anyone to do, even the busiest of all of us. Our most popular cleanse is the three-day program. All you have to do is tell us where to deliver, and then drink our six bottles of nutritional goodness a day. We give you plenty of materials to get you ready, helpful e-mails, and provide support from beginning to end.
Kids should not cleanse, but they can drink the juices for additional nutrition and for fun! Our kids, for example, drink them daily. My son’s favorite is the Red Punch; Ann’s eldest likes the Nut Punch.
We believe that cleanses shouldn’t be used for the purpose of losing weight. Our cleanses will, however, help you jumpstart a healthier lifestyle and give your body a break. As you drop all the processed foods, bad fats and sugars, though, weight loss is often a pleasant side effect, especially after stuffing your body with sugar and carbs during breastfeeding!
Tell us about your family. How do you balance being a mum and a businesswoman? Is it hard to juggle?
We both have amazing families. I have two twin boys, Ann has two boys and one girl, and we both have extremely supportive husbands.
When we first started Punch Detox, it was certainly a tough balance. For Ann, juggling three kids under the age of 4, a husband, a household and a new business was not a walk in the park. There have been points when we wanted to give up, but it was really the positive feedback that we got from customers that kept us going.
Fortunately, we are now at a stage where things are running smoothly, so work has been quite flexible. Our kids drink the juices, visit the factory, and check out our juicing sessions.
We are both lucky to have a lot of incredibly smart friends from our alma maters, Columbia and Harvard Business Schools, that share their advice and mentorship. Some are in Hong Kong, Mainland China, the U.S., Europe and Australia. It’s important for us to keep a global perspective, even though Punch Detox is a locally-grown brand.
We also both travel a lot to stay on top of developments in juice detoxing and nutrition around the world and to stay in front of the market. We attend a number of international trade fairs to check out the latest product development, travel and speak to people to find new farms to get the best ingredients.
What are your favourite healthy living spots and activities in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong has so much to offer – tons of water sports in the summer and hiking in the winter. Hiking has been a mainstay for us, actually: Ann and I did the Oxfam Trailwalker together! We still hike often now and bring our kids along. And who doesn’t love yoga?
It’s certainly easier now to balance a healthy diet in Hong Kong than it was in 2010 when we first started. We’re happy to see the growth of more organic, vegetarian restaurants, but we still maintain a habit that helps us stay healthy, even when eating out: since the source and method of cooking meat affects what it does to our bodies, we save meat for home and choose to eat vegetarian when we go out. That way, we can still enjoy meat in our diets, but it ends up being that we have a lot more vegetables in our diet.
A lot of people in Hong Kong eat, drink and sleep really poorly. Sometimes they’re from bad habits, or special occasions like weddings, or sometimes it’s part of living in a financial powerhouse and foodie city like Hong Kong. Our tailor-made juice cleanse programs help even Hong Kong’s busiest people get on track to looking and feeling healthier. In our 3-day cleanse, you’re getting the equivalent of 20kg of fruits and veggies, of all different kinds, so you get the full rainbow of nutrients that your body needs to be at its best.
What’s your favourite thing about Hong Kong?
The variety. You can have a nice bowl of smooth congee for $20 at a cha caanteng or a full-on fine-dining experience at Amber; you can visit the crowded streets of Mongkok or head to Hong Kong’s quiet hills and not believe that you’re still in the same place. Where else can you be 20 minutes from a bank, a super market, a beach, hiking trails, schools and an aquarium?
Do you think Hong Kong is a good city for entrepreneurs?
Hong Kong is a great city for entrepreneurs. The process to start a business is well-organised and streamlined. We never dreamed that we’d start Punch Detox as a profit-making business. We started it just to help out our friends and families in Hong Kong.
Of course, Hong Kong is a sophisticated market with sophisticated consumers that have helped our products be so successful. We’re proud to have been at the start of the juice detox market take-off and see it thrive over the past four years in Hong Kong.
What’s your best advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Always focus on your product. There will always be temptation for the glitzy aspects of business, but perfecting your product is the key factor of success and should always be your priority.
What’s your best advice for those looking into juicing for the first time?
Prepare for it, mentally and physically. Mentally understand that it’s not a chore, but you’re actually pampering your body, flooding it with nutrients and flushing out toxins at the same time. Physically, it helps to keep temptations at a minimal ahead of the cleanse – try to avoid free-flowing alcohol events and 10-course Chinese banquets.
If you can, find a buddy to cleanse with! It will help keep you both motivated.
Beautiful pictures of Ann and Angela taken above are by the hugely talented Sakshi Verma of Oh Precious Images – get in touch with her here.