4 Of Hong Kong's Most Influential Women Pen Letters To Their Younger Selves
Four women; four different paths in life. In these letters, Victoria Tang-Owen, Denise Lo, Tania Mohan and Jane Louey write to their younger selves about motherhood, family, their careers and personal battles. Revealing formative moments and each sharing a glimpse of their most treasured items, here are some of Hong Kong’s most influential women like you’ve never seen them before.
1/4 Denise Lo, lawyer and advisor for Louis Vuitton, North Asia
I know motherhood must be a far-fetched concept for you to grasp as a teenage boarding school girl who never really liked kids, but I assure you it’s absolute bliss (two children max, haha) despite the constant juggling you’ll have to do between career & family.
Don’t be scared off by the fierce competition you’ve faced from kindergarten to college. Remember, you don’t have to be a tiger mom to survive in this forever-evolving schooling system. I swear you don’t have force your kids to do 10,000 extracurricular activities (just because of peer pressure from other parents) so that they get into the elite schools. All it takes is for you to find passion in whatever your child is interested in—be it picking trash from beaches or devoting time to their favourite hobby.
In the meantime, try to enjoy school and treasure the friends you make there. Your boarding schoolmates will become your closest confidantes and biggest pillars of support throughout the coming years. One of the greatest joys you will experience is not just watching your children grow up, but also seeing them grow up with your best friends’ kids. Always remember to lean on your close ones when you feel overwhelmed (God knows, there will be plenty of moments when you have toddlers running around the house causing mischief, which will then evolve into battling through teenage rebellion).
In the end you will be ever so thankful that you made this decision.
You are doing great and there is simply so much more awaiting you!
2/4 Victoria Tang, Creative Director of Shanghai Tang and co-founder of Thirty30 Creative
You’ll never guess where you are right now... Switch Pedder Street for Duddell Street but you’re right back at Shanghai Tang. This time you are behind your desk, in the design studio, leading a team of fresh-faced talents as the creative director of the brand! How did that happen? Well dad didn’t actually have anything to do with this one. He has gone but a part of him feels like it’s still here. I honestly can’t tell you if he’d love it or hate it to see me behind this desk but it’s amazing to think his vision—and the Tang name—lives on, 25 years later.
Waiting for you at home is the little man, Rocco. Weird fact number two: you are going to have a blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty as a son. I know: where did that come from? He’s going to bring out the best in you. It’s nice to think that everything you go through, everything you learn about yourself in the good times and the bad, you will one day use, filter down and put into perspective. It all brought you to this place, with a husband and son who love you, support you and want the best for you, and there’s plenty to look forward to.
You and your brother Edward are going to take different roads. He’s doing so well in America. We are far apart but just as close. One day you will understand that you don’t always need words–just sharing an outrageous Tik Tok video says it all!
You’ll be you, and that’s all that matters.
See also: Victoria Tang-Owen On Family Legacy And Her First Collection As Shanghai Tang’s Creative Director
3/4 Tania Mohan, Founder of Indian-inspired luxury clothing and accessories brand Tabla
Hello to my 16-year-old self! It’s freezing cold outside, and it is your 16th birthday. It’s also your first night at an A-level college in the UK. A bunch of girls you have never met before are singing “happy birthday” to you in the common room. You picked the short straw with the ground floor annex bedroom—it’s not the greatest, but soon enough you will adore your roommate and the next two years will be a game changer for you—in the best way possible.
You have academic insecurities from your old school, but here in this encouraging environment, you will be asked to write an essay on the History of Art and you will be awarded the third A-grade the head teacher has ever given in the school’s 15-year history. Totally surprised and thrilled by the result, you will realise anything can be achieved with research and hard work. You will hold on to that essay and, even 31 years later, it will always be a source of inspiration.
As a sweet 16 gift to you, I want to share some magical home truths with which, if you follow, I promise will always do you good.
1. Never try to fit a triangle into a square. Use this truth in every aspect of your life.
2. Follow the flow of the river and don’t swim against the tide… ever!
3. Opportunity knocks on your door throughout your life, but please Tania, make sure you're at your own home and not at your neighbour’s house so you can open the door to welcome it in!
4. Finally, always remember we have six senses not five. The sixth one is called your gut instinct: be sure to follow this inner voice as it will prove to be your best friend and it will keep you safe and happy.
Don’t be afraid to dream; the sky's the limit. Always believe in yourself and don’t ever lose your sense of humour!
Happy birthday, kid!
4/4 Jane Louey, stay-at-home mother of three
Mom passed away when you were just 14 and father never said a word to you that she was dying until it was too late.
I can still vividly remember that night at the hospital. Seeing mother in a coma for the very last time as I desperately hoped to say a few final words. But that opportunity never came. You were devastated, lost, sad, scared and left behind. Worst of all, you felt... betrayed.
There was barely any time to mourn; you were forced to grow up overnight and take on a new role as a mother, so that you could take care of your siblings, who were too young to fully understand what had happened. To you, it felt like the end of the world: you barely even knew how to take care of yourself, so how could you possibly take care of your two-year-old sister, who was still wearing diapers and feeding on milk bottles?
As time wore on, every approaching Mother's Day filled you with dread. Watching the whole world celebrating only fuelled your loneliness and discomfort. You always hid your emotions from your father, as you did not want him to worry about you.
As you grew older, you realised that all of these unsolicited responsibilities turned you into a strong, independent and caring woman. More importantly, you have finally begun looking at things from a different perspective. Many things that happen in your life are out of our control, therefore you must appreciate what you have before it is too late. Learn to love your siblings unconditionally because family is the top priority—and this is a fact that will never change. Finally, be most grateful to your father, who never remarried and has been so supportive and loving, though he was only 42 at the time it happened.
Don’t ever feel lonely because you are not alone. Don’t ever be afraid even in the worst of times because there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
See also: 15 Of Hong Kong's Most Powerful Women
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- Photography Affa Chan/Tatler Hong kong