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That Mama: Vivian Wong

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Our latest That Mama is Vivian Wong, mum to two and an entrepreneur extraordinaire – she’s the co-founder of skincare brand Evie, sold at Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong, and is the founder of the training company Evie Consulting…not to mention an inspirational speaker.  This week we get the scoop on how this serial mamapreneur does it all, her organizational tips and tricks (to say she’s super duper crazy organized from her closet to her calendar is an understatement), favourite family rituals (including a nightly hide ands seek game), date night spots to keep the romance in the air – and more.


How do you save time?
I automate workflows and delegate whatever and whenever I can to my wonderful staff. It’s a part of how I used to work when I was at Goldman Sachs. And it’s not just the team at the office, I manage our helpers at home in the same way – we often sit down to discuss things that come up, and together figure out how best to handle them. This way they have ownership and are clear on execution, so that I can then let them get on with it. It’s great because it means that my time at home is mostly spent on quality time with the kids, not on administrative tasks.

What are your organizational tricks and tips?
I happily switched to Apple when I left the corporate world, so my computer, phone and iPad are all synced. My calendar is always up to date and I pretty much follow everything the organisation guru David Allen (author of Getting Things Done) preaches, which I learned early on at Goldman.

At home, my clothes, jewellery, shoes and handbags are organised by colour, style, material, length, height and so on. Everything is tightly edited for what I like, what flatters and what suits my work and lifestyle. The end goal is to never have to look for anything, whether it’s files at work or clothes at home – I’d rather use that time to play with the kids, rest or get more work done.

I always feel saner after….
I have a good meditation session. Or a snuggle with the kids. Meditation clears my mind and heart; my kids inspire and ground me.

Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
Date night. And recently we took a break at Tai O Heritage Hotel, which was a marvellous surprise – I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to take a short, relaxing trip out of town without actually having to take a plane to leave.

Favourite date-night restaurants?
When we want a real treat we go to Estu Sushi in Tin Hau. We know the chef and leave the ordering to him – the sushi is out of this world and the chef always sends over fabulously yummy dishes we never would have thought to order ourselves. When we want to stay near home we go to Sesson Kushiyaki in Festival Walk at Kowloon Tong. The sushi is always fresh and the atmosphere is very relaxing.

Favourite activity with the kids in Hong Kong?
We usually schedule kids’ get-togethers with different friends on the weekend. If the weather is bad, we’ll head to the nearest Jumpin Gym USA, the indoor kid’s amusement centre chain, and hit up their huge plastic ball room where our whole family can get in and have good fun.

Favourite kid-friendly restaurant in Hong Kong?
Applegreen, which has locations around Hong Kong and Kowloon. Their salads are yummy, their pastas are family sized and they are extremely kid friendly – with helpful staff, clean and comfortable seating… crayons and coloring paper are always at the ready.

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 spent 10 years at Goldman Sachs and for most of it, i worked crazy and intense hours. In the last 2 years there, I spent 2 weeks of every month on the road. Once I held my baby in my arms I knew I owed it to her – and to myself – to spend more time with her. After maternity leave, I joined our skincare start-up Evie, and also started my training company Evie Consulting as a professional hobby (i.e. a hobby I did professionally).

I call myself an accidental entrepreneur since I never had plans to be one, and the first two years running two start-ups was crazy. What made it all worthwhile was being able to schedule my work so I had quality time with my daughter every day. This year I would have been able to cruise except I decided to take on distribution of the Paul Ekman training programs – like everything else I do now, it’s a passion project – I guess I’m just a sucker for punishment!

I’m very thankful as I never imagined that there would come the day when I would be able to make a living by simply following my heart, focusing on doing what I do best and giving my all to help others have a smoother and more successful career and personal life than I did – while still having time for my family too.

How has having kids changed the way you define work?
Work used to be about me– getting ahead in my career, making money to buy the things I wanted. Now it’s about being a role model for my kids, to show them they can dream and make their dreams come true. To show them that they don’t have to compromise – that if they work hard and smart, they can have a career that is fulfilling, helps others and is financially viable.

Do you have any tips for any other aspiring “mamapreneurs”?
Focus on doing what you’re best at and outsource or hire the rest. Make sure you love what you do, because you will be spending a lot of time doing it (especially in the early stages when resources are tight), especially since your kids will pick up on your vibes at home. Hire the best staff you can afford from home to office, it’ll pay off in the end. And if you can, get an office outside of the home. I thought I could work from home but it was hard to get any work done, I found it difficult to resist running out of the study every time I heard the kids laughing or crying.

What advice would you give a working mama in Hong Kong?
Especially if you don’t have family here to help like me, find a good nanny you can trust and who can be a good partner – then treat her well like you would any valued employee at the office. I empower my helpers and avoid micromanaging however I can, and find things to support their personal development so they don’t get so bored in the job.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
The most important thing you can do to teach your kids well is to be a good role model for them, they learn more from modelling your behaviour than from anything else. I found that a lot of the things I struggled with, the negative patterns in my life, I inherited from my mother. I work hard to improve myself so that my daughter doesn’t repeat the cycle, if she’s going to make mistakes in her life at least let them be new ones and not the same old problems I’ve passed along to her.

EQ – emotional intelligence – is something my mother and I struggled with all our lives, and that’s one of the reasons I love Paul Ekman’s teachings. And of course I’ve been teaching the skills to my daughter – it’s cool because she can now read micro-expressions quite accurately, and even knows how to read the emotions of the characters in her storybooks by dissecting their facial expressions. Parenting is the ultimate personal development plan – lucky that I’m a learning junkie and a trainer to boot! 

As a mama I wish I were better at…
I don’t, because soon after the birth of my daughter, after a short spell of guilt, I learned to appreciate what I’m good at as a mother, and accept what I’m not. In then end, this is what allows me to be the best mother I can be.

Activity that I do not love to do but do it anyway because my kids love it…
I was very keen on reading to my newborn, having read all the research on the topic… and then when the baby came, I quickly found out that I really had no interest! Over time I’ve grown to love it because they love it so much, so now storytime is one of my favourite parts of the day. And I’m sure it helped that as they began to talk storytime became more interactive and fun for me too.


I wish I had more time for…
Taking the kids to the playground and other fun things during the week instead of just on the weekends. I never planned to be an entrepreneur, so when I started I naively thought I would be able to take time off whenever I wanted to during the week. Every year I think it will happen the next year, so if you were to ask me now, yes, I’m still hoping that this will happen… next year.

My most humbling mama moment was…
Everything – from the birth process, breastfeeding… Even now, seeing the world through my children’s eyes, and simply the privilege of having them in my life is a magical and humbling experience.

Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
If you can, try not to compare your child’s developmental milestones with other kids. They will all walk and talk eventually, will it really matter when they’re 15, 20 whether they started walking at 10 months or 14 months? Your kids will pick up on your stress and unhappiness – it’s just not worth it.

What’s your favourite family ritual?
We have a morning and evening ritual. Every morning when I leave for the office, my helpers bring my kids down to see me off in the taxi and say goodbye. I feel so blessed that in spite of a heavy workload, I can keep this time sacred, instead of having to rush off to work every morning as my girlfriends in the corporate world do. My daughter just started school this September, so we’ve recently changed the ritual to be us going down together to see her get on the school bus every morning, then my son seeing me off in the taxi. Every night when we get home from work, the kids hide and we look for them. We usually call home first so they know we are coming and can hide. This was a ritual I learned from another mom, and we have lots of fun with it.

I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about…
Fortunately, I don’t now! I did when I was making the decision to quit my corporate job and also in the first year or so after when we were in the very beginning of our start-up phase and had to figure out everything ourselves.

Bedtime is always smoother when…
We’ve read a few bedtime stories together first, it helps them to quiet down and unwind from the day.

Even when my child has a family of their own, I’ll still…
Love them to pieces and be there for them as their rock, like my mother is for me.

One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
My style! I don’t dress ‘mommy’ and didn’t even when pregnant.

My favourite moment of the day is…
When my kids wake up in the morning and give me a big good morning smile, kiss and hug. They sleep in their own room but I usually wake up earlier than them and go to their room to snuggle as they sleep… or i quietly meditate while waiting for them to awake.


And don’t miss Hong Kong’s first ever Paul Ekman course, taking place next month.  Focusing on his theories of micro-expressions – which, by the way are taught to the FBI, CIA, Scotland Yard and other forensics specialists around the world – the course is designed to help you read people’s true emotions, allowing you to build an maintain successful relationships. Learn more and sign up here.

Fabulous photos by super talented Lakshmi Harilela of Love True Light photography. And you can check out the rest of our That Mamas here.

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