Bangkok is a city brimming with talented personalities and charming characters who have pushed their way through to really make their mark. There’s no doubt that they’re truly living their best life, and doing it in great style. In our Good Life Gurus series, we explore and ask the city’s millennial tastemakers and cultural arbiters to reveal what the good life means to them, and give us a little insight into how they live it up.
As part of the Good Life Awards, we have recognised Net Supatravanij as 2021’s Good Life Newcomer. Click here to view our other Good Life Awards honorees who embody Lifestyle Asia’s good life ethos.
It takes a lot of courage, determination, and commitment for one to create a social impact. Especially women empowerment and gender equality, we’ve seen a significant number of changes and social movements that have brought people together to advocate for something better. However, there are some social issues that people still shy away from such as the stigmatised topic of gender-based violence. It’s still a taboo in many cultures and not something sexy to bring into any discussion. Nevertheless, that is totally no barrier and discouragement to social entrepreneur Net Supatravanij. She’s here to change the game.
Together with her co-founder Julie, they are the pioneering women in the removal of gender-based violence. Also, they’re the main driving force of ila Generation, a UK-based social enterprise that fosters gender equality and inclusion. With their brainchild Ally app, they turn local stores into safe spaces and bystanders into active allies. In addition to the existing system of legal frameworks and helpline numbers, they make help more accessible to anyone who seeks a safe place and needs help in escaping violence. And thanks to this human-centered innovative solution, she has now become one of the UN Women Youth Leadership recipients.
Here, we sit down with Net Supatravanij to chat about her social-impact business and minimalist lifestyle. Read on for our exclusive interview with the ambitious entrepreneur, covering all things from her advocacy to her love for her best pal and reading books.
For the most part, I was born and raised here in Thailand. After earning my first degree at New York University, I worked in the marketing field for quite some time but I realised it’s not really something that resonated with me. It didn’t have an impact on society, and I felt disconnected from what I was doing. Thereafter, I decided to pursue the field of social innovations and that path eventually led me to what I’ve proudly been doing today, which is ila Generation.
I’m a person who has always been interested in gender equality. Growing up with a very privileged lifestyle, I have seen a variety of circumstances of both gender equality and inequality. With gender-based violence as my main interest, I started to think about things that I could do and how I wanted to be more involved in this field after gaining some exposure to working in non-government organisations. I happened to meet my co-founder Julie when I was doing a master’s degree in social innovations at the London School of Economics, and little did we know that our casual grab-a-coffee and chitchat would turn into a real business. We have different backgrounds but very uniting visions when it comes to gender equality, and that is really the strong foundation for ila Generation and how it has come about.
As a social entrepreneurship startup, we’re deeply committed to eradicating gender-based violence in the workplace and society through our application called ALLY. This means that we’re working with businesses and a vast group of people from different walks of life. From bystanders to supermarkets, pharmacies and banks, we help train their retail store employees in public spaces to recognise signs of abuse. Meanwhile, we work with our partners in the UK to facilitate safe training that is in line with NGO standards. That includes teaming up with survivors to enhance and develop our application and training. We’re basically building a more extensive network that expands beyond the existing helpline number to ensure that help is within the reach of those in need or currently suffering.
I think it plays the biggest role. It’s something that helps to make an impact grow to such an extent that you couldn’t find otherwise. I know this because the very first innovation of ila Generation when we started three years ago was offline. Although it was still about training bystanders and survivors, the numbers that we’re working on back then do not compare to our ambitions and aspirations now with this tech-enabled invention. Also, the investors would always be super excited to know that ALLY is tech-powered. I guess that is the way that the world works now. I think tech for good is something that more people should be looking into for sure. If you can have the ability to impact people on a large scale, why not do it for something that impacts other people’s lives in a very profound way?
The good life is all about having balance. As someone who is a total workaholic, and taking into account the ongoing pandemic situation and my own health issues, I realised that I needed to slow down. Moreover, I need to focus on the fact that I still have a life outside of my work life. So being able to feel fulfilled in a lot of areas in your life is like filling up each section of your own pie. And that’s simply the idea of having a balanced life.
- My family.
- My close friends.
- My dog, Khai Wan. Pet therapy is real.
- Alone time.
- A therapist. It’s something that I feel very passionate about because I’m an advocate for mental health.
I’ve got to say that it’s so simple. The only thing that I do to free myself from reality or stress is to read. I’m a big reader since I was 13, and I read a book or two per week. Everyone assumes that I read the intellectual Nobel prize-winning books as many leaders and CEOs do, but that’s totally not the case with me. I love reading fiction because it’s a fun way for me to use my imagination and creativity to let go of reality for a bit.
One of the main things that I would do is limit the amount of consumption that comes in various forms. Being eco-friendly doesn’t only pertain to shopping for environmentally conscious products, but also about whether you really need that product or not. In other words, I think it all comes down to being conscious of not overconsuming and not buying things that I don’t actually need.
Work is in quite a stressful moment for me right now, so I try to make the most out of the time when I talk my dog out for a walk. But if I’m not occupied with a busy schedule, then playing tennis and going spinning are the two that I love doing to keep myself fit.
I love going to Caffè Olives. It’s a very cute café that has both indoor and outdoor areas, and the latter reminds me of al fresco dining when I was in New York. So that’s always a nice spot that brings back memories. Their iced chai latte is one of the best and my go-to’s, and it’s dog-friendly as well.
I’m answering this in terms of like an ideal, so it might sound funny and you might be bored of my answer as well [laughs]. I would like to go to Nong Bon, especially the dog park that is sort of like a Disneyland for dogs. I go quite often, and I just think that it would be a very cute dating spot to go and walk your dog with someone you like. There’s a long walking path, and talking while walking is certainly one of the best things to do as opposed to sitting and staring at each other in the eyes.
Bar Yard at Kimpton Maa Lai is the best for me.
I’m not a huge fan of shopping, and I can even count by hand how many times I have done that this year. However, I’m more on the side of online shopping. I always succumb to an advertisement that I see. If I’m on Instagram and I see an ad of a cute shop then I’ll definitely look at it. Also, there are higher chances of me buying something from Thai-owned small brands rather than shopping in the big malls.
Bangkok is one of the places that become small very fast if you only stick to your circles. But there are always new things popping in every corner. So if you take the time to explore more and meet new people, you can break free from your small world. And that’s how you’ll get to see a new dimension of Bangkok that you didn’t know you would enjoy as well.