Having the vision to become a social entrepreneur is inspirational. Making it happen is another story! It’s tough, it takes guts and vision and it can lead to some pretty hair raising moments. Here, we talk to Kathy Wong, a Northern Beaches local who inspires so many with her incredible business, her personal integrity and her genuine openness. You may have heard of Kathy, she owns Moeloco, a company that not only sells beautiful looking thongs but for every pair sold, a closed in pair of shoes is donated to a child in India. Here we find out what inspires Kathy, how she deals with stress and the huge goal she hopes to achieve by January.
Q. Kathy, you retired at 42 years of age but 10 years later, you leapt into starting a social enterprise, what made you come out of retirement?
“I woke up from a dream one morning and had an epiphany where I had to make a difference in the world. I wasn’t sure what that difference was, but the message about creating positive change kept pounding my mind for over a week. During this time, a deep knowing surfaced. It was then that I came out of retirement.”
Q. You’ve been described as a trailblazer, a socially evolved entrepreneur and a brilliant business woman – but you come from humble beginnings. What has been your driving force?
“Wow, thank you. Children are the underlying force. One of my big dreams was to have children and that didn’t happen for me, however, I have always had a strong connection to children and they love me, so my purpose has centred around them. I have always supported children's charities but for me, it was about getting some real skin in the game, creating a bigger path and not just giving money."
Q. Why is it so important to you to support children in poverty in India?
I had originally been aware of issues surrounding children in Asia and Africa and thought I might do something there so I reached out to someone at a conference in the hopes of finding a charity I could partner with and this person recommended a charity in India. It was not on my radar, so I started researching issues surrounding children in india and immediately I was overcome. I thought if I didn’t have an awareness about it then perhaps others didn’t either. To realise that so many children live without shoes there, well it compelled me. From that moment I just knew my soul belonged there. India found me and my vision took shape.
Q. I imagine it must be quite confrontational to see children in poverty, how do you deal with it?
"I try to remain unemotional and observe the situation. On a deeper level, I look within and ask myself what is triggering me. I have to sit with that because I don’t usually have the answers immediately. I need to have a sense of being grounded, whilst having a sense of curiosity and asking, why is this happening?"
Q. How do you deal with stress and anxiety in these tough situations when you can't move away from feeling emotional?
"Deep breathing to remain calm, I find going into nature, looking at water or reaching out to a friend and having a rant helps. Calling a friend and sharing is important to me."
Q. Maintaining a balance whilst running a business is tough. Do you have a self care ritual that you can share with other women who may be looking for idea’s?
"Journaling, meditation, exercise and yoga are grounding for me. Lots of herbal tea is good and placing lavender in the diffuser is great. I am a believer in changing your state, so I often put music on and dance around the house, other than that, staying active is really important."
Q. What words of inspiration can you share with others?
"We can do anything, we are all so powerful. Listen to your intuition and what your heart wants. Tap into that. We are caught in a society where there are so many experts telling us how to live our best life, but listen to your own wisdom. I have really had to learn that myself as well, I’d run out to the next expert to sort things out but I have realised that I know stuff as well, it's within. As women, we can lack confidence but we need to realise our worth. We all have unique gifts, we are all different and we tend to tall poppy ourselves. Let's not downplay our gifts. When you speak your truth, no one can criticize you and when you believe in yourself, the world becomes a better place."
Q. You have a goal of putting 2000 pairs of shoes on the feet of children in India by January, how can people be part of this extraordinary purpose?
"Our thongs make fantastic ethical Christmas presents, so for every pair of thongs sold, we will donate a pair of closed in shoes. Alternatively, share our story, let others know what we are trying to achieve and become part of our movement."
You can check out Kathy's website here: www.moeloco.com or if you would like to meet Kathy and perhaps pick up some fantastic Christmas gifts, there will be a Christmas pop up market with 22 stores many of whom are ethical and fair-trade retailers at Manly Surf Club, South Steyne on Sunday 3rd December from 9.30am - 2.30pm. See the link here: https://www.facebook.com/events/190445508187694/