Amy Creates Organic Baby Products That Are Kind to The Earth
What’s your story?
I am the proud mother of two and the founder of The Wee Bean. I grew up in Canada, before venturing to Hong Kong. I was drawn to this city for its opportunities and challenges. During the last decade, I worked in the HR field, and my last role was at Fidelity Investment Management as Talent Acquisition Manager for Asia. In 2017, I became pregnant with my first child, and at the same time, learned my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This led me to put my career on hold and move back to Canada to focus on family.
Compounding the complexity of life, my newborn daughter developed severe eczema, requiring the use of steroid creams as a treatment. It didn’t feel right to me to expose babies to chemicals so early in life, so I immersed myself into researching natural remedies, which led me to organic fabrics, such as cotton and bamboo. At that time these organic materials was still in a relatively new niche and hence, expensive. This led to my creating The Wee Bean, specialising in organic baby essentials and gift sets for new parents.
What excites you most about your industry?
According to Grand View Research’s 2019 report, the global baby products market is expected to reach $16.78 billion US, by 2025, which is massive. It’s an exciting yet competitive time to be part of this market as there’s rising awareness about infant nutrition, hygiene and safety. In addition to the growing eco-friendly trend, organic fabrics are the preferred choice for most parents. Not only is organic cotton and bamboo sustainable, and grown without pesticides or fertilizers, they are also super soft and gentle on a baby’s delicate skin. Using organic fabrics helps prevent many common newborn skin problems. Additionally, with globalisation and social media, we are able to connect with customers around the world to deliver organic products directly to the homes of new moms. Direct delivery is especially helpful to families practicing social distancing during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Hong Kong and then my family immigrated to Canada, when I was 3. My first time visiting Hong Kong was during my freshman year in University, and I absolutely loved the city’s vibrancy! To me, it was a city of endless opportunities. I was adamant about starting my career here, which I did, after graduating. And now my husband and I, and our two kids, plus a dog, have lived in Hong Kong for 10 years. This is the place we call home.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong! I may be biased having lived here, but I feel Hong Kong is perfect for its mosaic of different cultures and the extraordinary people who live here. It is a city where it is easy to network, with many support groups available for momtrepreneurs, as well as small business owners, like myself. There’s a lot of support for local products and businesses which adds to the feeling of being an enduring part of this community, where businesses can thrive, simply by word of mouth.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
When I first started this business, my number one supporter was my husband. Every time I hit an obstacle that I could not seem to overcome, he told me that I could do anything that I put my mind to, and that “impossible” really means “I’m possible.” He always encourages me to do better, and it really is one of the best pieces of advice I have received. I’ve come to realise that whenever I encounter a challenge, I just need to tweak my perspective in order to come to an alternate solution, because there will always be one. Whenever I overcome a hurdle, it gives me a renewed sense of confidence that I channel back into my business. It’s a vicious cycle that I don’t mind having!
Who inspires you?
So many people have inspired me. My parents, with their ethic of working hard, instilled in me an unquestionable devotion to family. My husband, with his can-do mindset and supportive attitude, continues to amaze me. And my greatest inspiration comes from my children. The concept of opening The Wee Bean was inspired by my daughter, Sophie “Bean,” and even though she is now 2.5 years old, she is still my muse for creating products. For example, she is an avid food lover which inspired us to create our new “Taste of Hong Kong” collection, filled with prints of dim sum, egg tarts and milk tea, the nostalgic foods from our own childhoods! Recently, my son, who is 4 months old, has become the next little muse for our baby collection.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It has been an amazing experience seeing how we all came together, after the riot situation, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and seeing Hong Kong’s new cases drop for consecutive double-digit days. As a parent, I would like to pay homage to all the creative parents out there who managed to home-school and keep their kids occupied during these arduous months. They have absolutely blown me away!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing! I believe that every hurdle and wrong decision ultimately led me to where I am today. Without these, I would not have been able to learn from my mistakes and improve on them. I strongly feel that every challenge that you overcome contributes to your confidence, which you definitely need as an entrepreneur!
How do you unwind?
I love having a little picnic near the end of the day with my family on our little patio. It’s a spot overlooking the Victoria Harbour and I can’t imagine a better way to unwind.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. It was one of the first places my husband and I went to when we were dating, and it was love at first site. We love the food, the culture and the people. Everyone is always so nice and time suddenly slows down. You can really breathe it all in. It’s a perfect destination for us and we hope to bring the kids with us on our next family trip!
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ,” by Daniel Goleman. We’re social creatures and this book highlights the importance of interpersonal relationships, as they are the foundation of business success. It talks about needing to be emotionally self-aware and self-regulating, because understanding our own emotions and managing our reactions to certain situations, can help to maximize productivity, which is beneficial for any entrepreneur. It’s particularly useful for understanding how EQ can help you mitigate stress and manage obstacles.
Shameless plug for your business:
The Wee Bean specialises in organic baby essentials, such as swaddles, bibs and towels using organic cotton and natural bamboo, with the goal to create products that are both kind to your baby and kind to the earth.
We have recently launched our “Taste of Hong Kong” collection, inspired by our love of the city, recreating nostalgic memories from the city’s iconic food culture. Our new collection, filled with cheeky dim sum, milk tea and egg tart prints has won the 2020 HK Smart Design Green Award for being sustainable in design and production.
Part of our proceeds go to Angels for Children and Bali Kids, providing financial aid to expectant mothers with HIV. The Wee Bean supports plastic-free packaging to ensure a greener world for our children to inherit.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.