Michelle Ong is a powerhouse. Her invite-only galas for the First Initiative Foundation (FIF) bring out the city’s most respected business minds and creative individuals every year. For the last decade, FIF has raised funds for the arts and education, and promoted Hong Kong culture to the rest of the world. Between organising these star-studded events, which last year brought in rare paintings from the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, and Ong’s work as creative head of Carnet Jewellery, she rarely ever gets any downtime.
She chats to Tatler about why there is no substitute for hard work and what it means to design accessories for the contemporary woman.
Describe what you do in one sentence?
I am a visual storyteller. I tell tales by setting them in stone. Carnet is a narration of my artistic journey, while the First Initiative Foundation is my way of supporting deserving artists in Hong Kong.
How does your business make a difference?
I have one brand philosophy: to do my best in whatever I do. No compromises. No excuses. I ensure that my work is an embodiment of my creative expression. My pursuit for perfection is what makes a difference, and it guides me and my business through every endeavour.
What do you put your success down to?
Success is an outcome of sheer perseverance and hard work. If you believe you can do it, you will.
What are the top three ingredients for a successful business?
· There is no substitute for passion. It’s a game-changer.
· Never say never. I believe in getting the work done.
· Appreciate the people who work with you and for you, and they will stand by you.
Do you have any mentors? If so, who are they and what is the best piece of advice that they have given you?
I’m inspired by art forms, artefacts, nature, my surroundings, traditions, and cultural symbols. I’m a great admirer of [US jeweller and founder of fine jewellery brand Jar] Joel Arthur Rosenthal. His work is remarkable, both in terms of design and craftsmanship. I am fortunate to have some of his pieces and also to call him my friend.