Sonalie Figueiras of Green Queen & Ekowarehouse
‘A Date With Ains’
I’m very excited to finally publish my interview with the inspiring and kick-ass entrepreneur, Sonalie Figueiras.
Sonalie is the Founder of Hong Kong’s extremely popular online health and wellness publisher Green Queen and Co-Founder of Ekowarehouse, the first B2B platform for certified organic products.
Sonalie is a true entrepreneur. Together with her business partner Tracy Turo, she finds valuable gaps in the market, takes big risks, does her homework, backs herself and works tirelessly on her businesses.
To be honest, I was a little star struck when I interviewed Sonalie and was so appreciative of her giving up her time for our chat. But if you know Sonalie, she’s one of those generous souls who’s all about creating positive change and helping others.
If you want to learn how Sonalie successfully transitioned from finance and management consulting to immersing herself in the health and wellness industry where she’s created multiple successful businesses, this interview is for you!
Let’s kick off with you telling us a little bit about yourself and your businesses Sonalie!
I was born and brought up in Hong Kong. I have also lived in Singapore, Chile, Brazil, India, the US and the UK.
No place ever compared to Hong Kong so I came back a decade ago and it was the best decision I could have made.
Green Queen started off as a lark, a personal blog to share green and healthy resources with the Hong Kong community- there was no grand plan in the beginning. There is now 🙂
Green Queen has grown beyond my wildest dreams and is now the most important English resource in Hong Kong for healthy living. Some days, I can’t quite believe it.
Ekowarehouse came out of my frustration with using Alibaba and some of the other B2B sourcing platforms when I was looking for ingredients for a health food business.
I realised there was nowhere online to source verified ingredients. I wrote the business plan almost immediately.
I sent it to my co-founder (and best friend) Tracy, who was heading up a big insurance company in the US.
We were college roommates who had always dreamt of building something together. She loved the Ekowarehouse premise so she quit everything to come here and build the company with me.
Today, Ekowarehouse has thousands of organic & ecolabel suppliers and products and is used by people in over 115 countries.
I believe in having a partner. I could not do this without Tracy, and hopefully vice versa.
What does ‘clarity’ mean to you? When you’re lacking clarity in life or business, how do you get ‘unstuck’? What practices or strategies do you use?
Clarity to me means focus and discipline – those are key when you start and grow a business.
Every day, there are too many things to do, too many ways for you to get distracted, too many demands on your attention.
Staying focused on what matters and having the discipline to bring yourself back to what needs to get done versus what can be done, that’s clarity to me.
Tracy and my husband are my go-to people when I am feeling stuck. A conversation with them always gets me back on track.
I’d love for you to share a time when your self-confidence has been at an all time low and what you did to pick yourself up and get back out there.
Around six years ago, I was feeling pretty down.
My self-confidence was at an all-time low. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why.
What I realised is that I need to create and I need to build.
The minute I started doing that, I got my confidence back.
Recently, on a panel discussion, you said that it’s so important to you to live your life with purpose, which really resonated with me! Seeing as though you have two amazing businesses on the go, I’m interested to hear how you stay connected to your purpose and your passion?
I could not love what I do more.
Every day I create and build things, which makes me feel tremendously energised. So passion is not a problem for me 🙂
Purpose is something I actively work on.
Tracy gave me excellent advice once: ‘if it’s no sweat off your back, take the time to help people.’
I think about that often and try to incorporate that in the way I do business.
Who and/or what inspires you?
Smart, driven, focused achievers inspire me: people who create things that didn’t exist before, people who leave the world a more interesting place than when they arrived.
What’s next for you and your businesses Green Queen and Ekowarehouse?
We have big plans for Green Queen and Ekowarehouse.
After the last few years of creating a foundation, our little businesses are ready to take on the big leagues!
We are actively preparing for growth.
You grew up here in Hong Kong and as a result you must have seen some amazing changes. What do you love most about this city?
I love the can-do energy.
No matter what beautiful city I visit, no other place has Hong Kong’s hustle and bustle.
People are fighting to make something out of nothing. The energy inspires me every day.
My words of advice for young women about taking the leap and following their dreams would be….
Really think about it!
I know these days startups are all the rage but starting your own business is hard.
It requires so much money, so much time away from your loved ones, so much discipline, so much focus for months on end with no return.
It’s really important to be somewhat prepared mentally.
And finally do you have a quote or a daily mantra you use to keep you feeling clear, confident and connected within your business and life?
I don’t have a quote or a daily mantra but what I think about a lot is my responsibility to serve others.
I was born in the 1% of people who get to make choices.
Choices about who I want to love, what I want to study, what I want to with my life, what I want to eat…So many people in this world will never have these choices.
I consider it my duty to use the gifts I was given thanks to sheer luck to create positive things and help those with less.
Every time I see Sonalie I feel I should have a notebook out ready to write down her golden nuggets of wisdom she shares on life and business…and I also know a lot of this wisdom comes from Tracy, who Sonalie frequently quotes! I especially love that Sonalie is a straight shooter and doesn’t romanticise what it’s like having a startup or being in business – yes, it’s tough!
But I truly admire that she’s extremely self-aware, she knows how fortunate her upbringing has been and she wants to make the most of her opportunities and genuinely help others along the way.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on my interview with Sonalie. Feel free to share in the comments section below!
Sonalie Figueiras’ mission in life is to make it easy for consumers and businesses to make green choices every day using smart data. Sonalie is the founder of Ekowarehouse, the first global B2B platform for certified organic products.
She is also the founder and publisher of Green Queen, Hong Kong’s most popular healthy living online platform and the organizer of #StockYourStore, a brand new business matching and networking event for Hong Kong’s health & fitness industry. Sonalie grew up in Hong Kong and has a background in finance and management consulting.