We chat being a female entrepreneur, makeup trends and Hong Kong's best kept secret with the Founder of Sponge, Diane Younes
We love talking with all the wonderfully talented people in Hong Kong. From illustrators like Zlism to photographers like Tricia Darling, and of course all the epic entrepreneurs, such as Tania Cheung from Miss Runner; good chats help us learn more about what’s going on in the city. Recently, we got to sit down with another wildly successful female entrepreneur, Diane Younes from on-demand beauty service Sponge. We discussed everything from making friends in Hong Kong to establishing a company and where to find the best brunch. Find out her thoughts on life in The 852 below.
An interview with Diane Younes, founder of Sponge
On the couch with Honeycombers. We chat with Diane Younes, Founder of sponge, about being a female entrepreneur in Hong Kong, upcoming makeup trends and her favourite spots in the city. Full story here: http://bit.ly/2nCrVv1#hongkong #sponge #video #makeup #beauty
Posted by Honeycombers Hong Kong on Wednesday, 6 December 2017
How did you end up in Hong Kong?
I was living in New York for ten years and I was getting the itch to go somewhere new, and at the same time, my husband’s bank asked him to move to Hong Kong, so we just jumped on that.
I love New York, and for me it’s home, but I just wanted to open my eyes and see something totally different. My husband was stationed here once before, and I came here to visit him then. I actually had this specific vision of what Hong Kong would be, and I was totally blown away; it just was not what I thought it would be. I loved it, and that’s when we first started thinking about moving from New York and it kind of all fell into place.
We’ve been here for a year and a half now, and we’re loving it!
Did you know anyone here before you arrived?
I had zero friends here before I came. I started my company Sponge pretty much as soon as I got here, so I went to a Female Entrepreneurs Worldwide Event (FEW) and I met the co-founder Ines there. And I started talking to her and she introduced me to a few people at the event, and we all just started hanging out from there.
Hong Kong is such a small place, that you meet a few people and it will expand your network a lot. It’s just easy to meet people here, especially with all the events going on.
Tell us about Sponge and how you run the company
So our freelance Sponge experts do hair and makeup and eyelash extensions and they can come to your home or office. We also do fashion shoots do, so we have a lot going on. We cater to women who are busy, and I think we are all busy, so we really cater to everyone.
One of the things I’m proudest of at Sponge is that we cater to different beauty standards. So, we can create the looks that Americans or Australians or French people are looking for, and we can also create looks for people from Hong Kong and throughout Asia. There are different beauty standards when it comes to makeup and hair, and our Sponge experts come from all over the globe.
I run both the logistics side of the business and everything else. I do all the social media, on Instagram for example – we do lots of Instagram Stories and post regularly and I enjoy seeing that work translate into new clients. It’s also creative.
I didn’t study business, but I did the course on life! (laughs) It was either crash and burn or try to fly! I do have two law degrees, so that has helped me in terms of setting up the business from a legal perspective, you know: negotiations, contracts and things.
But at the end of the day, there is no better school than just life. If you really want something, you have to just do it. You will make mistakes, and sometimes you will be successful; you just have to go for it and see where it takes you.
Have you found a network of people that you bounce ideas around with for the business?
Yes. That’s super important. Even at the beginning while I was building Sponge, I was actually vetting with people while I was building it. Obviously, when you have an idea, you might think it’s the best idea ever, but other people might not see a need for it.
So, it was important to talk with a bunch of different people and be like: Is this missing in Hong Kong? Do you need this in your life? And I kept checking with people as we designed the website to see what people thought. Since the launch, I keep vetting with customers to make sure they are happy and I keep talking to other entrepreneurs. It’s a constant process, and if you don’t do that you will crash and burn.
Tell us about your team and the atmosphere of the business
It keeps growing and growing and growing! The Sponge experts are from all over, but there are certain characteristics that everyone possesses. Obviously expertise is the biggest thing, but also personality. Coming from New York, I was used to a certain level of customer service – you’ll go into GAP and they’ll greet you with the biggest smile, and I wanted to replicate that, especially as we go into people’s homes.
At Sponge, we work hard, and it’s all about making sure that customers are happy, but we have fun too. You can see it in our marketing. We’re sort of your best friend and we’re very tongue-in-cheek. Yes, we are professionals, but our business is creative and there’s something really fun about that.
Do you have any female entrepreneurs that you really look up to?
All of them! I think that all female entrepreneurs are superstars. If you have an idea, and you actually implement it and build something, hats off. I’ve done it, and I know how hard it is. I mean, it’s an adrenaline rush and it’s amazing but if someone can do that and still sort of remain normal, then hats off. And I love every single one of them.
You can find outmore about Diane Younes and Sponge online
Enjoyed this chat with Diane Younes and want to read some more great interviews with people in Hong Kong? Find out why chef Nate Green hates the term ‘organic’, discover eco-friendly paint with Joakim Cimmerbeck or discover the fashion of Hong Kong designer Sarah Lai.