You’ve read all about her hubby’s fun exploits as a first-time dad in our Daddy Diaries feature, now it’s time to sit down with the mama herself! A stylish young mum to a 10 month old, Rebecca Jo-Rushdy is the founder of BaoBae, a one-stop online shop for baby and kid’s items, covering everything from baby onesies to organic skin balms to pregnancy packs and more. Mamas, if you’re looking for a last-minute gift, their customised gift hampers are a failsafe go-to option – take it from us! We talk with Rebecca about her go-to organisational tips, balancing business and breastfeeding, and how she made it through 51 hours of labour (phew!)
Where are you from and how did you end up in Hong Kong?
I was a third culture kid – born in LA to Chinese parents and raised in Japan, Hong Kong and Shanghai before studying at Parsons in New York. You could say that love brought me back to HK – after enduring a 5-year long distance relationship during university, my now-husband and I decided that we would reunite in Hong Kong and we were married a year later… it was a good reunion! Having spent my formative years in Hong Kong, I always wanted to return to create shared memories of the city with my own family.
Can you tell us a bit about BaoBae? What was the inspiration behind it?
I’ve always had a passion for gifting and was completely underwhelmed by the pre-packaged baby blue/pink box-sets available on the market. They are full of generic items and seemed too impersonal for an occasion as special as a baby’s birth or birthday. For those living in Hong Kong, time is precious and spending a day searching through baby boutiques spread across the city for that unique gift is the last thing most people want to do. I started BaoBae to create an effortless gifting experience accessible to everyone with an internet connection.
We offer a curated selection of thoughtful gifts for babies and mamas. Our Gift Hamper Generator allows shoppers to mix & match from dozens of local brands and independent designers – just specify the age, gender and budget and BaoBae does the rest. You can also add a special something for siblings and mamas so no one is left out. Our products are all vetted by mamas and the signature packaging, gift-wrapping and greeting card all add a personalised touch.
Where do you source the items on the site?
The items we carry predominantly come from local independent designers and “mumpreneurs”, providing a refreshing alternative to the mass-produced mainstream brands on offer at most online and brick-and-mortar stores. We work hard to keep our gift selection unique, current and cool with a strong emphasis on practicality.
What are some of your favourite items on the site?
As a new mum, I can finally test out items on my daughter. I absolutely love the ethical & organic onesies from Baby Hero – not only are they brilliantly designed, but for every item you purchase they donate a life-saving birth kit to a mother in Pakistan. Another favourite is Tiny Bitz’s genius Growing Kits which include three items of clothing for your baby to grow into. Both brands use the softest and most durable woven cotton so they are good for baby’s skin and can handle regular washes. Two other items I never leave the house without are my Li’l Fraser swaddle which doubles as a blanket and Innobaby’s fruit shaped teething toys. We also carry gifts for mamas such as Kailin’s bespoke fine jewellery that you can have engraved and even get a matching piece for baby – every mama deserves a little bling!
What is your favourite aspect of running your own business? Any upcoming plans?
Letting my creativity flow unhampered is definitely my favourite aspect of being my own boss, closely followed by being able to manage my own time which is a necessity with a 1 year old and no full-time helper. It’s not easy bringing a wriggly baby to work but luckily she is pretty well-behaved (most of the time!) and I am grateful to spend all day with her because she is growing up so fast. We have been hosting regular BaoBae events to raise awareness among our target audience and plan to expand these activities, as well as considering e-commerce hubs for local designers in China, Singapore and Taiwan where online shopping culture is more established.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
Since Na’ima was born I have learnt to adapt to her schedule, which means being flexible enough to work anytime, anywhere (its 2:30am as I write this). I always try to group my meetings into one or two days during the week so I don’t waste time travelling around town. I keep tons of to-do lists and rather than using an app which my friends swear by, I prefer old-school pen and paper which stops me getting distracted by all the other apps on my phone!
I wish I had more time for…
Sleep! Between work, baby and hubby time I am often up super late as it’s the only time I can guarantee a couple of hours of uninterrupted peace.
I always feel saner after…
Yoga, especially after shavasana! Even a short 20 min session rejuvenates me and provides the mental and physical boost I need to take on the world. I recently took a Mindfulness Meditation course, which has helped me immensely to live in the present moment and stay sane!
Favourite activity with the kids in Hong Kong?
We love going to Shek O Beach early in the morning to soak up the sun before the crowds arrive then grabbing a bite at the one of the delicious Thai restaurants like Happy Garden!
Favourite kid-friendly restaurant in Hong Kong?
Rosie Jean’s Café gets my vote for their comfy atmosphere and their thoughtful kid-friendly details, tons of toys to keep the kids occupied and parents happy – such a rare gem in Hong Kong since we’re always feeling rushed wherever we go!
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
Our first family vacation was to Okinawa and we loved it – the hotels and resorts all cater for young children and there’s plenty on offer for older kids to such as day trips to the aquarium, pineapple park and one of the many glass-blowing centres. We are looking forward to returning to Kep in Cambodia with Na’ima. It’s a beautiful seaside town and the resort we usually stay at, Veranda, has a daycare centre for children as young as a few months old. For group holidays – Zekkei is the absolute best and they have an amazing collection of villas in Asia including Koh Samui and Niseko (check out the Sassy Mama guide here!). Every holiday we’ve had through them has been so memorable and most importantly, stress free!
Activity that I do not love to do but do it anyway because my kids love it…
I’m sure I’ll find out once she’s older and starts bossing me around. For now, she goes where I go and doesn’t have much say in the matter!
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
We keep the bedroom device-free, which means there’s always time in the morning or evening, even if it’s just for a few minutes, when we have each other’s undivided attention… until Na’ima starts to stir!
Favourite date-night restaurants?
Our current favourite date night spot is at home, getting a much needed weekly massage session in!
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
I felt very energised throughout my pregnancy, which helped me to set things in place prior to taking a maternity break – although one of the drawbacks of having your own business is that you don’t get a proper maternity break and you can’t fully switch off! We had a few big events planned just after the birth so I was back at work with an itty bitty six week old attached to me. I highly recommend doing the traditional Chinese “Pui Yuet” and hiring a confinement nurse who also cooks for you and shows you the ropes, especially if it’s your first child. A proper diet and ample rest really helped me to hit the ground running when I did get back to work.
How has having kids changed the way you define work?
My priorities have definitely shifted. I carefully consider the opportunity cost of every decision I make – I have to be more selective about meetings because sometimes that means time away from Na’ima. As an entrepreneur there is already a very thin line between work and life but since becoming a mother, that line has completely blurred. I am always doing 2-3 things at once now – taking conference calls while changing nappies and preparing sales reports while breastfeeding is the new normal.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and working other mamas in Hong Kong?
Put yourself out there. Take advantage of the frequent events where entrepreneurs can meet each other to share their experiences and resources and explore opportunities for collaboration. These are usually organised by the various chambers of commerce, co-working spaces and other such organisations. Remember to take things in your stride and work at a pace you feel comfortable with – it’s easy to get sucked into the Hong Kong vortex and feel pressured to do it all right now. It’s a cliché but your mental and physical health really is your wealth.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
Parenting is not “one size fits all”! Do what feels right for your family and filter out all the well-intentioned advice that doesn’t feel right.
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
Babies are designed for new parents; they don’t expect you to get everything right the first time!
As a mama I wish I were better at…
…not worrying so much!
My most humbling mama moment was…
Really understanding what a labour of love motherhood is, literally – it was 51 hours from the first contraction to when Na’ima was born.
Wow, how did you make it through 51 hours of labour?
It definitely wasn’t easy, but the knowledge that Na’ima would come out one way or another helped me to stay calm and focused on a positive outcome throughout the two days and nights! Although it wasn’t the 100% natural birth that I envisioned – the doctor broke my water and after 48 hours I was reluctantly induced – I was so grateful to have avoided c-section or epidural that not following the birth plan to the letter didn’t matter at all!
We took a pre-natal hypno-birthing class at Annerley and the breathing exercises helped to keep me centred and awake. Essential oils from Native Essential’s Happy Birth Kit ensured I was relaxed and they made the pain more manageable. My poor husband was so sleep deprived by the end of it, I think he was in worse shape than me!
What’s your favourite family ritual?
Cuddled up in bed with the family on Saturday mornings.
Even when my child has a family of his/her own, I’ll still…
Consider her my little baby!
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
Spending quality time with hubby – especially since he travels a lot.
My favourite moment of the day is…
Na’ima is incredibly active so I love the last feed of the day when she’s peaceful and her eyelids are getting heavy. I just squeeze her tight and absorb her cuteness. It reminds me how fast she’s growing and to cherish every moment we have together.
All photos in the That Mama article above were taken by Sophie Rouillon Photography – get in touch with Sophie here!
And check out the rest of our That Mama hall of fame here!