Charity Closets With Joleen Soo
Introducing our first charity closet with stylish Hong Kong Mom Joleen Soo and her two tykes Gabriel (4) and Olympia (2). Joleen is the Founder of Catalysta, a new PR and Events Agency focused on building positive social impact, and former Development Director of the Cambodian Children’s Fund [CCF].
Tell us a bit about yourself and your family? How long have you been living in Hong Kong?
I've been in Hong Kong on and off for over 20 years now - what a difference there was growing up here in the early 80's! Between my husband and I, we spent our childhood between Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei and Bangkok. We both went on to University in the States but came back to Hong Kong finally to start out family. We now have a two year old boss lady [Soo's daughter, Olympia] and a four year old Gabriel-saurus [Soo's son, Gabriel].
What does a typical day look like for you?
We breakfast as a family and the kids are off on the school bus. Thank goodness for uniforms because that at least cuts down on the daily morning outfit war.
I then work for a couple hours on my new business Catalysta - a PR & events agency which brings the non-profit and luxury brand worlds together in ways that benefit both.
I either hit up a barre class at Flex, H-Kore, strength conditioning with my trainer Stephanie Cuvelier or boxing at The Fighter's Club. I love the variety and have found myself to be a better parent and spouse when I feel strong and healthy.
How do you try to raise eco-conscious children?
I think it's about the formation of good habits. We are conscious about using disposables and generally use glass jars, washable zip locks, beeswax wraps, metal straws etc so the kids are really used to seeing items used over, and over again. We are not turned off at all by the concept of second-hand. In fact our son's entire room was donated by our neighbour, and as a result he has an awesome bunk bed system custom built as they live in a unit with the same layout.
I think being eco-conscious is also about being aware of your effect on everything - whether it's the environment, other people, or other species. We want to respect the natural state of rightness and strive to be a part of a positive eco-system.Joleen Soo
Finally, we spend a lot of time outdoors so they can see, smell, touch and fall in love with nature! Not easy in Hong Kong but that's what all our wonderful long holidays are for!
We noticed that you have very few toys cluttering your home. How do you keep it minimal when it comes to kids? Any rules to live by?
Just don't buy it. They don't need it and the horrible plastic toys that all the kids want all break so quickly anyways. We rather buy well-made metal or wooden toys then pass them along. Honestly, I feel kids don't mind playing with the same toys over, and over again. There seem to be so many possible scenarios that they come up with!
Are your kids easy to dress? How would you describe their style?
Stylish comfort. They have to look fly - but not at the expense of movement, practicality and wash-ability. With that said it's hard to accomplish said fly-ness when everything they want to wear has a superhero or cartoon character on it. But it's them expressing their choices and so I don't really mind.
Olympia's favourite thing to wear is jeans! She loves pockets. Gabriel's favourite is his Disney costume pyjamas.
What are your favourite children's brands and why?
I noticed Olympia loves Bonpoint. I think it's because all the cottons are so soft and she likes how it feels on her skin. Gabriel looks really good in Petite Bateau as he's quite slim and suits the European cutting.
Did you wear hand-me-downs or second-hand clothing growing up? How did you feel about it? How do you feel about shopping second-hand today?
Hong Kong is such a retail driven city we tend to buy a lot more than we need. As a result you find amazing quality second hand clothes!Joleen Soo
This is so evident in the recent upswing in second-hand and luxury resale businesses.
For myself, I was the oldest female grandchild and the oldest child. I had an overwhelming amount of fancy, princessy clothing (which I hated). My two younger sisters however did wear the hand me-downs, as did the rest of my extended family. We have lots of fun looking at old photos and arguing about who wore it best!
Tell us more about the Cambodian Children's fund and how did you get involved?
Cambodian Children’s Fund transforms the country's most impoverished kids into tomorrow's leaders, by delivering education, family support and community development programs into the heart of Cambodia’s most impoverished communities. This is accomplished through an award-winning educational program, tightly run operations, and controlled management of expenses. I had the privilege of serving as Development Director in Hong Kong for over two years. During that time I visited the operations in Phnom Penh on four separate occasions and it was life-changing to meet and get to know the kids and families that were part of the program. This is such an amazing, results-driven organisation that has makes positive long-term change.
Why do you Retykle?
#WERETYKLE because stylish, well-made clothes are a privilege to recycle plus it's fast, inexpensive and leads to positive change.
I've been such a fan of Retykle from the very beginning, and greatly admire their purpose as a business. It's an honour for our family to be a part of their Charity Closet initiative and help them both fundraise for great causes, and to share the children’s gently used clothes with the community. Gabriel and Olympia will be very excited to see our closet up live and helping them understand this program helps us lay the groundwork of the importance of giving back.Joleen Soo