Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. Each week in 27 Questions, we get up close and personal with the city’s most notable personalities, learning about their whims, aversions, pivotal life moments and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same duration as it takes to sit through a two-minute speed date. This week, we speak to Kimberley Woo, CEO of Galton Voysey — one of Hong Kong’s fastest growing eCommerce companies.
There are so many steps to consider when starting an eCommerce business — the conceptualisation, the website, designing the product, then the execution. It’s a challenging task to say the least, especially when built from scratch. This is where Galton Voysey comes in, a talented team of mavericks who came together to build the world’s leading direct-to-consumer eCommerce company. Its vision is to become the leading developer of direct-to-consumer brands, and it’s already well on its way with its impressive portfolio of over 45 in-house brands.
Galton Voysey essentially does all the groundwork — and beyond. Everything is done in-house by a team who builds, grows and scales exceptional direct-to-consumer brands while ensuring legendary customer experience. From the initial idea conceptualisation to the web design, product, manufacturing and selling, it’s all in Galton Voysey’s capable hands. The brand also manages the logistics side of it, including getting the inventory to warehouses, delivering products to the final customer, the after sale customer care and the advertising. It owns 100% of all the brands in its portfolio.
Galton Voysey’s CEO Kimberley Woo moved from Montreal, Canada to Hong Kong with a vision in mind to drive and build something great. Her quick, efficient and savvy approaches to brand building and growth hacking were evident from the moment she joined the team, leading her to her current role as the leader of the company.
So how does it work? Galton Voysey only develops brands that they truly believe in and that they would buy themselves while looking out for any opportunities that may arise. Once they find their winning brand, it’s passed over to the eCommerce team which will start to scale the brand into a multi-million-dollar revenue and profit brand. To date, brands have been advertised on everything from podcast ads with renowned talk show host Joe Rogan to print advertisements in financial publications like The Economist.
But that’s not all. On top of its willingness to trial different forms of advertising channels, the company also dips into different markets, starting with the United States. The motto for each expansion project remains clear; the goal is to provide all the necessary backend infrastructure to launch a multi-million dollar profit-driving brand, taken care of by the Galton Voysey team.
For this week’s edition of 27 Questions, we speak with Galton Voysey’s CEO Kimberley Woo to get to know more about her life philosophies, who her role models are and her favourite things to do.
Name: Kimberley Woo
Neighbourhood: Hong Kong Island
Occupation: CEO of Galton Voysey
1. What is your life motto?
“This too shall pass.” Everyone goes through low points in their lives and sometimes it’s quite easy to think it’s the end of the world or this is it. But remembering that this too shall pass makes these points in our lives quite manageable.
2. Who is your role model?
My grandmother is my role model. My grandmother grew up in poverty and after immigrating from Hong Kong to Canada, she singlehandedly raised her five children on her own, without any complaints. She always had a smile on her face wherever she went and her children and grandchildren have always been her top priority.
3. What was your first job?
I got my first ever part-time job when I was a teenager working as a tutor at a Kumon Centre. At the time, I really wanted a cell phone but my parents made it clear to me that if I wanted something, I needed to work and pay for it. So I went around to different retail stores such as Tim Hortons, Dynamite, Walmart and Kumon handing out my resume hoping that I would get a part-time job to pay for my first cell phone.
My parents instilled in me at a very young age to be independent and to work for the things that I want.
4. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I am a night owl — that is when I am my most productive. In the morning, I’m generally not a very pleasant person before I have my first cup of coffee.
5. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?
My Click & Grow! Every plant I have owned has always died on me within one month; Click & Grow is the only plant that I have been able to keep alive. I highly recommend anyone who wants some minimal-effort greenery in their home to get one!
6. Which phone app do you think more people should know about?
Pandamart — I can’t count the number of times that I’ve run out of toilet paper and (thankfully) Pandamart was able to deliver it to me within 20 minutes!
7. What is your biggest regret in life?
Not spending enough time with my grandparents before they passed away. Growing up, I always saw my grandparents as just my grandparents but I didn’t spend a lot of time getting to know them and their stories. Our grandparents have a wealth of knowledge and experience that I would never experience and it’s a shame that I couldn’t learn more from them while they were alive.
8. Where do you go when you want to be alone?
IKEA! IKEA is somewhere that is big enough for me to spend hours walking around looking and touching things and hopefully get some inspiration. I can also sit down if I want to think or grab a coffee at the cafeteria.
9. What is one song you know all the lyrics to?
Wannabe by Spice Girls.
10. What’s your favourite childhood memory?
Celebrating and spending every Christmas, summer and birthday together with my cousins. My cousins were my first friends growing up and we were part of each other’s important life events. I hope we do not lose that as we grow old.
11. What is the last dream you remember waking up to?
I had a dream where I was eating every possible candy that you can imagine. It was a candy mukbang of me eating. That was one of the best dreams I have woken up to — I remember I could almost taste how good the candy was. The best part about this was that I didn’t feel the need to eat any candy outside of my dreams since I already got the same satisfaction.
12. What’s a relationship deal breaker for you?
If there isn’t mutual admiration. I want to admire the different qualities of my partner whether it’s his career, sports, or family, etc. Similarly, I would want him to also admire me in the different aspects that I thrive in.
13. When was the last time you felt starstruck?
At the 2019 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Meeting where I got a photo with Tim Cook — with a crumb on my chin.
14. What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done, and why?
Moving to Hong Kong by myself for the first time when I was 23, with no plan and no job lined up. In hindsight, it was one of the best decisions that I could have made.
15. When was the last time you drove a car?
In 2020, when I went back home to Montreal. It was the best feeling being able to drive around Montreal with the radio blasting and me singing at the top of my lungs.
16. What energises you about your work?
Working with very smart talented people who are super hardworking and are genuinely there because they want to build something great together and not because it’s just a job.
17. Start your life again at age 15 with all the knowledge you have now, or fast-forward 10 years?
18. What is your favourite scent in the whole world?
None. I cannot smell. I was born without a sense of smell, inherited from my dad and his dad who also can’t smell.
19. What’s the best or worst career advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice is to ask if you don’t know something.
20. What is your drink of choice?
Vermouth on ice with a twist.
21. What is your greatest fear?
That something terrible happens to a close family member while I am far away.
22. What is your typical Sunday like?
My current Sundays consist of going to play ultimate frisbee and probably getting some casual drinks with the same folks I play frisbee with, attempting to finish whatever book I am reading at the time (generally procrastinating) and finishing up the day by binge-watching some Friends episodes.
23. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own? Which do you wear the most often?
I own about 10-15 pairs of shoes but the ones I wear the most are my very dirty white Nike sneakers. I have been told by multiple people to throw them out and get new ones because they are starting to look really worn out and some holes are starting to form in the sole. All of these characteristics, I think, add a lot of charm and character to the shoes.
24. When did you feel that you ‘made it’?
Never really. Every time I hit some milestone that I wanted to reach previously, I realise that by that point I have already raised the bar and am striving for a new bar already to “make it”.
25. What is one movie everyone should see?
Bad Boys II — young Will Smith is hilarious!
26. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
New York. New York is filled with fascinating people from all walks of life and the city is so fast paced. The city attracts a certain kind of person who wants to get things done and is trying to build something great — I want to be part of that.
27. What was the best gift you ever received?
When I was five, my dad bought me this life-sized white gorilla (it was the same size as me if not bigger). That gorilla was my best friend until I was 10 or so.