Cover (Photo: Affa Chan/Tatler Hong Kong)

In this week’s edition of Tatler’s Secrets of Success series—the all-access pass to the city’s most impressive business magnates and entrepreneurs—eco-warrior Emily Lam-Ho reveals why she wished she started 8Shades earlier, how her mother Lynn Hsieh inspires her to live a fuller life, and why her son thinks she picks up trash for a living

Three words: Emily. Lam. Ho. She may be from one of Hong Kong’s most prominent families but she has chosen to make a name in her own right. The mother-of-two has dedicated her career to championing causes she cares about, including female leadership, through her social-impact investment firm Empact28, which focuses on funding female entrepreneurs and start-ups.

As a council member for the Hong Kong Women’s Commission, Ho advises on female-supported initiatives, a cause she has also furthered as the vice president of the Columbia University Alumni Association of Hong Kong. Under this post, she has launched a series of women-led panel talks with leaders from a wide range of fields. 

Sustainability is another cause Ho has become synonymous with. In 2018, she co-founded EcoDrive HK, a charity organisation that promotes the reduction of single-use plastics, and this year she launched 8Shades, a lifestyle platform to demystify the idea of sustainable living. 

Ho talks to Tatler about what it takes to be successful and why living consciously is easier than you think.

Describe what you do in one sentence.

I run a lifestyle platform called 8Shades, focusing on sustainable living.

How does your business make a difference?

8Shades breaks down daunting sustainability goals into digestible content and doable daily practices, making sustainability fun, relevant and accessible. The aim is to make your life more enjoyable while being green.

What do you put your success down to?

Passion and idealism. Sometimes people think I’m naïve, but I genuinely believe in the goodness of people and that if we keep trying to do the right thing, then we can all collectively make positive changes to our world.

What are the top three ingredients for a successful business?

Ethos, people and quality execution.

Do you have any mentors? If so, who are they and what is the best piece of advice they have given you?

The most important mentor I have is my mother, Lynn Hsieh. She taught me to focus on internal qualities such as building knowledge and creating life memories, because more surface-level things, such as wealth and youthful looks can disappear or be taken away.

What has been your biggest career obstacle to date? How did you overcome it?

Indifference. There are too many people who are indifferent to our climate crisis because they think their small acts can’t make a meaningful difference. 8Shades exists to change that narrative. Every small act counts—we just have to start somewhere.

Do you have any business regrets? If so, what?

I wish I had started 8Shades sooner so we could have touched more people’s lives. However, better late than never. I am so proud of all the achievements by the 8Shades team so far. We have only just begun our journey.

How do you plan to develop your business over the next five years?

I envision 8Shades to become a catalyst to empower individuals and businesses to make incremental changes every day that make the world greener. I want to create a movement while finding the right business model to demonstrate that you can live well by doing good.

What qualities do you look for in a potential employee?

Conviction, resourcefulness and creative problem-solving.

What is one surprising thing about you that most people don’t know?

When I’m in nature—on the hills or in the sea—I pick up plastic waste everywhere I go. I always make my friends and family do the same. When my son’s teacher asked him on Career Day what his parents do, he said, “My mom picks up trash for a living.” [laughs]

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.