Front & Female: Supermodel Maye Musk Meets Hong Kong's Accomplished Female Leaders
Ten women made plans to be at Tatler House on the first Friday of the month to share in the second Front & Female Roundtable, an event both to bring together a group of diversely accomplished women who put the world to rights on issues close to their hearts while celebrating the rollercoaster life story of special guest Maye Musk, the supermodel, dietician and newly minted best-selling author.
Parenting, ageing and overcoming life’s obstacles were among the conversation topics tackled as the mother-of-three shared the same candid and can-do approach with the room of entrepreneurs and leaders as found in her book, A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success, released this year.
Beaming in from more than 7,000 miles away, Musk, in a silver jacket (her eldest son Elon would approve), greeted the room via Zoom, her trademark cheer and infectious positivity seeming to evaporate the 15-hour time difference between her Los Angeles home and Hong Kong. Unlike the riotous energy of the late-night first Front & Female Roundtable, held in July with rocker Josie Ho, the second was a more focused, purposeful affair with a breakfast-time scheduling. Morning light illuminated the salon at Tatler House, the newly launched events space at The Upper House hotel, as cups of steaming coffee were served and crisp pastries were shared.
Assembled around the table were Mimi Tang, founder and CEO of Wing’s Share; Carmen Chiu, regional managing director for Fortnum & Mason; Patricia Siu, managing partner of American Dental Partners; Chris “B” Bowers, music promoter and founder of The Underground HK; Natalia Obolensky, general manager for Charlotte Tilbury Asia; Anna Treier, co-founder of Sense of Touch spas; Zip Cheung, founder and CEO of Ohh Dear Communications; Michele Lau, senior product creation director for Nike; Phyllis Marwah, co-founder of Mother’s Choice, and her daughter Alia Eyres, CEO of Mother’s Choice.
Tamara Lamunière, founder of Generation T and Front & Female, hosted a one-on-one dialogue with Musk before opening the floor to questions from guests, who asked Musk for her thoughts on navigating uncertainty, raising resilient children and dealing with setbacks, such as escaping an abusive marriage, starting her own business as a dietician, and negotiating the fickle modelling industry—all while maintaining a sense of humour and optimism.
“Most of your life you will go through uncertainty or struggle. You just need to pull yourselves out of that dark hole. I was struggling to survive all the time and I didn’t know if I was going in the right direction, but you’ve got to keep going. Persistence is important,” Musk said.
Musk’s book—part-autobiography, part-self-help guide—expounds her wisdom on hard-hitting subjects. One of Lamunière’s lead questions was how the heavier material, particularly that which involved their father, was received by her children Elon, Kimbal and Tosca. “When I told my children, I said that my agents wanted me to write a book and they said: ‘You look perfect on Instagram, but you better talk about your struggles.’ At first, I wanted to take [the part about the abuse] out as I thought it was too sad, but my agent said ‘Women will relate … women need to talk about it You have to tell your friends and family about it. There are many good men out there who will support you.’”
After Musk had logged off, a group discussion expanded upon issues such as men and women’s contrasting approaches in their careers; identifying female talent and elevating other women in the same industry; and personal anecdotes on raising a family, body image and friendship.
“I have three children—younger than Maye’s—and I was caught by her strength when she discussed running away; how she managed to pick up the pieces of her life and be hopeful and courageous,” said Treier.
“The main thing I took away from Maye’s talk is to be positive,” said Bowers. “This year, there has been plenty to complain about, but it’s important to think differently, move forward, and get rid of any negative people around you.”
Meanwhile Cheung, the founder of Asia’s only over-50s modelling agency, heralded Musk’s profile as a 72-year-old supermodel and shared her hope that stigma around ageing in the region would diminish so that Asian faces would soon be able to experience the same success. “In Europe and the US, you see mature faces selling products. But in Asia, there aren’t enough opportunities for older models ... They come from all walks of life and it’s important that we want to tell them it’s possible and never too late to start modelling.”
When it comes to embracing the skin you’re in, anyone would be hard pushed to find a better role model than Musk, who left the room with the following uplifting sentiment: “My seventies are my best [years] ever. I’m very busy: people are liking my wrinkles and I’m selling them.”
See also: Maye Musk On Modelling, Her New Book And The Power Of Perseverance
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