I have known Joy since I started drinking in her bars many many years ago.  She is insanely well connected and was always willing to introduce me as a young entrepreneur to others that could help me on my way.  I look forward to seeing her new business grow around the region.

What’s your story?

At 24 I ran away from the British weather, arrived in Bangkok and never left.  At my first expat party I landed a job managing five steak houses (unusual for a vegetarian!).  The five steak houses morphed into two pubs which I then part owned.  A fun 10 years until I changed direction from bar to spa. I trained as a therapist and became the Managing Director of Chiva-Som a job I loved for 8 years.  For the last four years I’ve been with DSM a wellness management company which i set up with former Chiva-Som colleagues. We help owners and developers move into the wellness space.

What excites you most about your industry?

The Wellness Industry is expanding at warp speed and in many directions – from lifestyle centres, health resorts to anti aging and cosmetic clinics and everything in between. Its driven by mega trends – the chronic disease epidemic, aging populations, the cost of healthcare and growing discontent with the western approach to illness recovery.  The industry is not well mapped giving opportunity for new types of wellness businesses. This is what really excites me, setting up and managing businesses which haven’t existed in that form before. Working with investors DSM is at the cutting edge of the wellness movement.

What’s your connection to Asia?

Its been home for 25 years, I’m a confirmed Asiaphile although my preference has so far been Thailand. Work however is bringing me closer to China which also has its attractions. I’m amazed that even though I’ve been in Asia a long time I have such limited knowledge of the Chinese,  in hindsight that’s been a mistake since they are the ones that will rule the world!   Having a JV there helps enormously and I’m really enjoying learning how to do business well there.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?

Hong Kong, I like the pace and accessibility of everything yet it still has charm and character.   Language is always a barrier to making personal relationships but I like that it doesn’t affect how business is done there.  

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

The most recent and helpful piece of advice I received was to build DSM with good quality freelancers rather than staff.  Freelancers keep on the ball (because they want the next assignment) they help us to grow faster, without heavy head office overheads, and they mean we can downsize easily if things get tough. Its proved a fantastic piece of advice and as a result we now have some great resources to draw on when needed.

Who inspires you?

I know I should say Richard Branson or someone like that but honestly its my Dad!  Sadly he recently passed but if I could enjoy all my days the way he did then I’ll be one very contented lady. Dad took satisfaction in every moment whether he was drinking tea, doing the shopping or heading off on holiday. To him it was natural, I have to work a bit harder and I haven’t mastered it yet but he remains a constant inspiration to do just that!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?

I’ve recently studied how our homes contribute to our health – from the paints used to the attention given to ventilation, water quality and electromagnetic fog protection.  So many toxic, off gasing products are used in carpeting, fabrics, wood polyurethanes, cabinets etc that we are rarely aware of.  Its a fascinating field –  how some homes can make us sick and under par and some can make us soar just from the ventilation, finishing products used etc.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

I would be a lawyer so I could fight for the rights of farmers.  Farmer’s are everybody’s lifeline and particularly our children’s – if we can eat well we are well.  Farms and food have been destroyed by an industry that doesn’t value nutrition, the health of nations or the livelihoods of the farmers.  Yes I would definitely come back as their crusador!  

How do you unwind?

Friends and family whenever possible but also meditation and yoga.  I don’t find the meditation that easy so I cheat and use an app called Headspace, its great for little mediations when travelling, queuing, needing a break.  I am lucky that I have a beach house a few hours from Bangkok which I enjoy with friends and my dogs, I play short TED talks on my iphone on the way there and back which opens my mind to new ways of thinking.  

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?

Bali – it excels in so many areas. Beautiful architecture and interior design, natural fabrics and products, fabulous food with some exceptional restaurants and genuine spas.  Mostly independent business which I love. And beautiful, soft and kind people.  Its my idea of paradise.

Everyone in business should read this book:

The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz.  If everyone in business read just this one book the whole business world would be a better place for all.

Shameless plug for your business:

Founded in 2011 DSM conceptualises, sets up and manages wellness properties – destination spas, health resorts and wellness centres. We work with real estate developers and independent owners.  Lately we have been working on projects designed to build wellness communities and this is a really exciting area – contributing to healthy home and community  design, setting up and managing wellness centres and resorts within those communities and conceptualising lifestyle focused commercial spaces.  

How can people connect with you?

I prefer skype for a first conversation – my ID is joymenzies. Otherwise email [email protected]

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnects

Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia.  He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries.  He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence.  A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.

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