Passionate about charity work, empowering fellow women, rescuing stray dogs and strutting down the runway… meet super mama, Ana R. As a mum to one and half year old, Maya, Ana makes it her goal to raise an independent, compassionate and strong daughter. Raised by those same principles, Ana credits her own mum for her values and perspective on life. When I first met Ana, I was blown away by how calm, cool and collected she was. After hearing all the initiatives she was a part of and having a little one at home, I admired how grounded she was. Being a cheerleader for other #girlbosses in the 852, Ana is all about supporting other women who strive to inspire, enable and help the disadvantaged in the community. She uses her influence and fame for good while staying humble and relatable to mamas everywhere. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Ana R in this edition of That Mama.
Tell us about yourself and how you found yourself in Hong Kong.
Quite simply, I’m a model, mama to my daughter, Maya (17 months old), a wife and loving friend. I was only 20 years old when I first came to Hong Kong for a modelling gig. I opened for the Gucci fashion show and remembered it being so much fun. After the show, there was a reporter who came up to me and said “You will be famous!”. My instant reaction to that was “no way!”. Back then, I had thought the Gucci show was going to be my last modelling job as I was planing to go back to school.
A few days later a manager from a Hong Kong agency contacted me and said they wanted me to come to Hong Kong right away. I told them I was going to go back to school and said you would need to talk to my mum. So they did, and my mum said that another year of modelling school could wait. It’s been over 18 years since that life-changing moment happened.
I am passionate about working closely with many local charities like Women Helping Women of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Dog Rescue, Beach Clean Up, Hope with Adventist Hospital and many others. I am always on the lookout to help initiatives that focus on helping women be strong. For example, I took part in a short promo piece called “Dangerous Women” for a women’s conference. I want my daughter, Maya to be a strong and independent woman. It’s how my mother raised me. I am half Korean and Puerto Rican so I’d like to say this mix adds extra spice to my life!
Describe your personality with three words.
Girly, clumsy and caring.
We know that you’re working on a ton of different projects! What’s your most recent one and why is it important to you?
Wow, where to start? I am passionate about modelling which is why I own a modelling agency, Model One as well as teach individuals how to model at Charming. I have recently started a mobile app called Playdays. It helps families find fun places to take your children to, including our popular playdates which are listed on our app every month. Playdays came out of a need as after having Maya, I have realised it’s not easy to navigate in a busy city like Hong Kong especially with children. I am also working on a clothing label… but it’s all still hush, hush for now!
How have you used your influence as a model to advocate for initiatives you’re passionate about?
I believe all women are strong individuals, and my hope is for our conversations around sisterhood and motherhood to be more transparent. I do the best I can to support as many women foundations and causes, especially now as a mother, my work with these charities have strengthened my perspective and respect for my fellow girl bosses even more. It’s also no secret that I LOVE dogs. I have three myself, who have all been rescued. I’m a big believer in second chances for everything, especially lives that have been abandoned. So if you are ever thinking of purchasing an animal from the shop, please think about saving one from the streets first!
If you could choose a new career what would it be and why?
My dream job was always to be a teacher whilst focusing in the area of Special Education. I guess I have always wanted to try and make a difference in a person’s life, and what better way to do that than starting with children who will become our future!
How has being a mum changed the way you view your professional life?
My life has flipped upside down and inside out. As a model, you have fittings, bookings, shows, flights to catch and your schedule is all over the place. I literally thought I had it under control with my amazing organisational skills already! That was until my mini me arrived, and I quickly realised that I not only needed to be organised, I also needed to be flexible! Seriously, I don’t think those two words even belong together, but hey, all mothers make it happen! #mumlife
How do you balance work and mama life?
I start every morning having breakfast with Maya. It’s our precious mother and daughter time. My day may be packed with meetings, but no matter what, we never miss our breakfast dates! The best thing about my job is that I can work around Maya’s schedule most of the time.
What are some of your organisational tips and tricks?
Making lists! Write everything down. I’m old school, so I use a notepad and a day planner, which I always carry around with me everywhere. I also set alarms for everything. The first six months after giving birth was a total blur, so my iPhone became my bestie, especially when I was nursing. My friends told me that you will experience more brain farts than you’ve ever had and from my experience, it couldn’t be more true!
What do you do to get in that “me” time?
Me time… I might need to get back to you on that one! I still have not had “me” time. It just hasn’t seem to have made it onto my to do list!
What do you find to be the most challenging part of parenting?
Parenting toddlers! Maya has entered the stage of toddler life, and I feel like I went back to zero. It’s like once you think you got it, she throws something new at me!
What is the most rewarding part of parenting?
THE HUGS! Once you get your first real hug from your child, your heart melts.
What are 3 things you find yourself repeating to Maya all the time?
“Don’t eat that!”
“Yummy, yummy, yummy!”
“I love you!”
Name your funniest and/or most memorable parenting moment.
Baby gas! I remember my husband and I were sitting on the sofa with Maya and the dogs then someone let out the biggest fart. We both looked at each other like, “It wasn’t me!”. I’m sure you can guess who it was!
Favourite family holiday destination and why.
Hands down, the UK. My husband is from Essex and we go once a year to see his whole family.
What are your favourite spots to eat at with your family in Hong Kong?
Sohofama and at home. Both my husband I have very busy lives so we are homebodies when we can be.
What’s the best advice you’ve received as a parent?
It’s ok to cry.
Something that you wish someone had told you about motherhood?
I got the full low down from my BFF as she told me everything from the good, the bad, and the ugly. I was really lucky to have an amazing girlfriend that loves to share. I would definitely say to new mums out there to embrace the journey, be proud of it, even if you don’t have proud moments know that you do the best you can for your child.
What has been your most humbling moment as a mum?
Learning to ask for help. The words just could not come out of my mouth. I’m still learning!
How do you keep the romance between you and your husband alive with such a busy work and family life?
We have date night or movie night at least once a month, just so we don’t forget we’re married!
Favourite date night restaurant with your partner.
The food at GAIA is amazing and you really don’t feel like you are in Hong Kong whilst dining there.
As a mama, I wish I were better at…
Parking my car with Maya! Parking in Hong Kong is one of the hardest things to do. I’m one of these drivers that take up to five minutes to get in or out of a parking spot. I laugh at myself all the time.
I wake up in the middle of night thinking about…
Maya. I’m always thinking of Maya.
Bedtime is always smoother when…
I lay in the crib with Maya. While we were sleeping training, I was in her crib for a week trying to get her to sleep. And for the record, sleep training sucks! Now, she will sleep if I sit in the rocking chair in the room.
My favourite moment of the day is…
Maya’s nap time! It’s the only time I can have a bit of peace and quiet to make my calls and reply my emails.
Thanks to the talented Michelle Proctor of Michelle Proctor Photography for all of the beautiful images above! Follow her on Instagram @michellejproctor