With International Women’s Day taking place this Thursday, March 8, we begin our series of interviews celebrating inspirational Hong Kong women by talking to Corinne Jedwood, entrepreneur, innovator and founder of Around DB magazine.
You’ve had quite a varied career – tell us a bit about the different enterprises you’ve been involved in.
My first DB-based venture was Inside DB magazine. It was the first community magazine in Hong Kong and inspired other publishing companies to start their own community magazines too. I also founded squarefoot.com.hk – Hong Kong’s first English-language real estate magazine and website, which we later sold to NewsCorp.
My career has been extremely varied. Before living in Hong Kong, I ran a jewellery business. The pieces were manufactured in South Africa, and I sold them into the American market. Now, as well as running Bay Media (publisher of Around DB, Life on Lantau and The Best of Lantau magazines), I have also founded Eureka Bamboo Socks, producing bamboo socks to bring healthier garments into Hong Kong, which includes a range specifically for school uniforms.
What are you most proud of in your career to date?
I love the fact that we bring people in Lantau together through our media platforms. We’re able to help small businesses get known and keep everyone up to date with what’s going on – it creates a great sense of community for residents.
I am also very proud of my team… I am proud of having built an amazing team that works so well together; a team that is very committed to bringing quality products and services to our clients and readers.
How has the scene for entrepreneurs in Hong Kong changed over the years?
It’s certainly getting tougher, as there’s more competition now than ever. We are lucky to have no (or very little) competition in both the publishing business and the bamboo socks business, however you need to be persistent, persevere and bring new ideas all the time. You can’t rely on past success – you need to constantly renew yourself.
You also can’t be scared to invest and diversify. What was true 10 years ago may not be true today. Businesses need to evolve and they need to do so quickly. You need to stay on top of your game.
What would you say your main driver is? What inspires you?
Community is the most important thing to me – helping others, and doing good for the community and the environment.
What are the main challenges for women in business in Hong Kong?
There’s no challenge really if you know what you are doing; people will respect you irrespective of you being a woman or a man. I have never found my gender being an issue to strive in my businesses. On the contrary, people may respect you more because you are a woman and there is some kind of solidarity between women CEOs.
What advice would you have for women wanting to start a business Hong Kong?
If you don’t try, you will never know if it works. But don’t expect things to be smooth and simple. It’s not a 9-6 job. It’s crazy hours, it’s doing everything from being the tea lady to the sales person to the financial director. Be hands-on; be passionate about what you’re doing; believe in yourself and your products. Don’t go half way… give it a real shot! And BE PATIENT!
What’s next for Corinne Jedwood?
Eureka Apparel is my new venture, so I am excited to develop this business. I love the bamboo fibre for socks. The business started in Discovery Bay, but we are already branching out into the US and the rest of Asia.
I am equally excited about continuing to serve our community through our multi-media platforms. Our design studio is doing extremely well. We just published a book for a Silicon Valley business guru, and top-tier clients are now using our services on a regular basis for their branding, editing work, logo design, brochures, websites and writing books.
I can’t wait to see where we go next!