Recently, I was lucky enough to meet Kathy Wong, founder of Moeloco, at one of our monthly Brunches. For those who may not know, Moeloco is a socially conscious footwear business that donates a pair of closed shoes to a child in poverty for every pair of flip flops purchased – thereby enabling them to go to school. In fact, in the past year alone, Moeloco has helped put close to 4000 shoes on Indian children living in poverty (I know, right?!).
So with all this in mind, I was quietly very excited to meet the woman behind this incredible brand.
And to be honest, Kathy is as warm and generous as you would expect her to be – and also ridiculously business savvy, having retired from business at 45, only to be drawn back into it when she knew she could find a way to help others and live out a higher purpose.
Read on as she shares her story from how she went from a retired serial entrepreneur to a game changer, helping to increase access to education in impoverished countries.
The Mothers Den: Tell us a little about yourself.
Kathy: I’m a creative - and have been ever since I was given my first pencil - and I love takes an idea into reality. I’m also a typical Gemini who gets bored easily.
I was raised by my two immigrant parents who worked very hard like most immigrants and I learnt very quickly the value of hard work and family. I grew up in a Chinese restaurant so I can make a mean fried rice!
I have been on a twenty year journey of self development that included early retirement at 45 after running several businesses I founded all in the area of design. After ten years of living my dream life, I returned to the business world being a disruptor with my new social enterprise business Moeloco.
The Mothers Den: Why Moeloco?
Kathy: I’ve had a good life, doing most of what I wanted to do at a fairly young age. I had always sponsored children and supported The Starlight Foundation. I had said that one day I would dedicate more time to children.
A light bulb went on almost two years ago and I knew it was time to give back in a big way.
Moeloco means Dream Crazy. It’s my dream crazy to inspire others to find those big fat, hairy dreams and chase them down. When you do, you are totally tapped into your purpose and that is what will create a difference in the world, even if you may not have consciously set out to do that. My personal dream crazy is children and mothers. Empowering them to elevate themselves out of poverty.
The Mothers Den: I love that you enabled yourself to retire at 45. What advice would you give to the women in our community who are looking to achieve that level of success while raising a family?
Kathy: My advice to anyone, everyone, mums or not, is just know what your ‘why’ is. Life as an entrepreneur is the craziest journey you can have - as some of you here would know. If you don’t have a strong ‘why’, it will be very easy to quit when times are really hard. And there are always many of these moments.
It’s also essential, especially as a busy mum, to give yourself self love, self care and self compassion. If you don’t look after your own energy and regularly revitalise yourself, you cannot be your best self and you will struggle with all of the heavy lifting that’s such a regular part of an entrepreneur's life.
The Mothers Den: What surprised you the most about starting a social enterprise?
Kathy: How difficult it was to find the right charity partner. I contacted so many charities and they just would not respond and the few who did said thank you but no thank you.
I could not believe they did not want my help. There were other charity suggestions from friends and colleagues however they were not a good fit.
I also had strict criteria as I knew that the choice of my charity partner was very important to the business; I needed a transparent, ethical partner where every cent would get to our children and the families we are supporting. I was so fortunate after a long search to find Maureen Forest who founded the Hope Foundation.
The Mothers Den: What advice would you give to someone looking to add a charitable element to their business?
Kathy: I found it difficult selecting a charity as there are so many people, causes that need assistance.
My mentor told me - pick the ones that makes you get out of bed in the morning with a fire in your belly.
The other part of the decision, of course, once you know who you want to work with, is how will you contribute to the charity. There are several models. We picked one for one as we wanted to be able to give right from the day we opened our doors. The giving was built into the business model not brought in later. Having said that, though, how you give is very much dependent upon your business and personal objectives.
In 2016, Kathy was nominated for an Ausmumpreneur Award in the ‘Making A Difference – Business’ category.
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