Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. In our weekly 27 Questions column, we get up close and personal with the city’s notable personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same duration of a casual speed date. This week, we speak to Kaye Dong of The New Moon, and more.
The New Moon is an online destination for curated objects on contemporary wellness and spirituality – think energizing crystals, diffusers and intention journals. Launched last year by Kaye Dong at the height of the pandemic, the team were only recently able to host their first in-person pop-up last month.
Speaking at the event about her wellness journey, we realize quite quickly that Dong is a highly-accomplished individual, a woman who exudes an unparalleled energy of serenity and poise.
“Staring a new business venture is always challenging but The New Moon was launched at the height of the pandemic which made it extra tricky,” she says. “We had to be creative in how we reached our audience in the absence of in-person events. We are grateful for the wonderful feedback we have received so far during our first year.”
The New Moon is by no means her first project. The self-described creative entrepreneur is also the driving force behind interior design firm The Good Studio and non-profit K for Kids Foundation, filling the gap in the welfare system that out-of-home children often fall into. More recently, she was also nominated and accepted to join the Board of Directors for Mother’s Choice, a local charity serving children without families and pregnant teenagers in Hong Kong. To top it off, Dong is also a foster mum, having taken care of six children since 2016, a role that she describes as being both rewarding and difficult.
“I am passionate about supporting one of the most vulnerable populations in our city; children in out-of-home care. These are children who, due to unfortunate circumstances, cannot be cared for by their birth families and require residential care provided by institutions or foster families. I believe that we need to do our part in supporting them so that they can have a better chance in the world.”
Have we ever met a more magnanimous and charitable individual? We’d be hard-pressed to name one.
Name: Kaye Dong
Neighbourhood: Sheung Wan
- Founder of The Good Studio
- Founder of The New Moon
- Founder of K for Kids Foundation
- Board of Directors, Mother’s Choice
1. What is your life motto?
My current motto is: I am happy. I am good.
When I am feeling a bit anxious or uncertain of myself, I chant this in my head until I feel that I have returned to my centre.
2. What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten in Hong Kong?
My husband’s home-made char siu – but that was back in the days when I was still eating meat. I have been a vegetarian now since 2017. Unfortunately, I have not found a plant-based version that can satisfy my cravings. But seriously, char siu is life. It is my comfort food.
3. What was your first job?
Waitressing at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, Brisbane, serving up dim sum.
4. What is your drink of choice?
Gin & Tonic! I’m currently loving Roku Gin which has some really unique Japanese botanicals such as sansho pepper, sencha tea and yuzu peel.
5. When was the last time you drove a car?
Just a few months ago. But driving in Hong Kong is just not for the faint hearted. From the struggle through the tunnels, to the insanely tight corners in carparks; driving in Hong Kong definitely does not bring out the best in me.
6. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?
From the tonal colour palette to the soothing and organic forms, my home is designed with the intention to encourage slow living and provide opportunities for respite. I believe that mindfully designed homes look after the health of the people who live in them. I definitely feel that my home takes care of me. It nurtures my soul and keeps me grounded.
7. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I am a morning person. My alarm is set for 4:44am. I start my day with a moment of gratitude, 3 glasses of water followed by 20-30 minutes of meditation. I then journal for about 10 minutes. I always listen to a podcast whilst I shower and get ready. The kids and I are usually at the breakfast table by 6.30am and we all leave the house by 7am.
8. Which phone app do you think more people should know about?
There is an app called “Motivation”. This app is designed to inspire you with positive reminders and affirmations. I set reminders that pop up on my phone throughout the day.
9. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It would probably be my mum’s home-made pho (vegetarian version).
10. What is your greatest fear?
Driving out of a carpark and realizing I have no money in my Octopus card and wanting to reverse but looking in the rear-view mirror to find a long queue of cars behind me.
11. Which moment in your life would you most like to relive?
My 40th birthday — the night I celebrated with all my best friends and family. Literally, everyone I loved was there. I will never forget how blessed and loved I felt that night.
12. What is one movie everyone should see?
13. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
14. If you could invite any five people in the world to your dream dinner party, who would they be?
Michelle Obama, Oprah, the Dalai Lama, Beyoncé and Lewis Hamilton.
15. What is one thing you’ve never revealed to your parents?
I secretly got married in 2001 (I am hoping they will not read this).
16. What is your favourite scent in the whole world?
The smell of coffee and freshy baked bread and that’s why I love coffee shops.
17. Have you ever experienced love at first sight? Tell us about it.
The first time I saw my children, and I am sure every mother will resonate. Time just stops. It is a magical and miraculous feeling.
18. Do you have any favourite tattoos or special birthmarks? What is it?
My favourite tattoo is the one on my neck which is the mantra, Om Shreem Namah (Sanskrit). This mantra cultivates a feeling of appreciation and gratitude for the abundance of life energy expressing through me.
19. Would you rather never be alone for a single moment, or be alone for the rest of your life? Why?
As an introvert, I certainly enjoy my alone time, but definitely not keen on the idea of being alone for the rest of my life. I want to share my life with those I love.
20. What would you do if you won the lottery?
I would do two things: One, build a wellness retreat in Vietnam and Thailand; and two, build a school for vulnerable children needing out-of-home care.
21. What energises you about your work?
Working with a really young, diverse and talented team and seeing the potential that lies within them.
22. What’s your favourite tradition?
Chinese New Year.
23. What’s a relationship deal breaker for you?
If my partner tries to change me. A healthy relationship is one that respects and celebrates each other’s individuality and encourages each other to continue pursuing their interests and doing all those things that makes them them.
24. If you could snap your fingers and fix one thing about the world, what would it be?
To see all children in a safe, secure and loving home with their family. No child should grow up alone in an institution.
25. Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not?
Yes, I do. I believe that a planet’s position, the time of the year, and the relationship between various planets affects human lives at a psychological level.
26. What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done, and why?
Starting a business. Some people associate starting a business with jumping off a cliff and assembling a plane on the way down. The fear and uncertainty that comes with entrepreneurship is very real, especially during unprecedented times like now. The journey can often feel lonely, because as leaders, there is a need to demonstrate strength, grit and resilience, even when the feeling is quite the opposite. Sending strength and love to all the business owners out there who are trying their best every day and fighting to keep business and jobs alive.
27. Your go-to coffee order?
Oat milk latte!