Renu Malani

Where were you born? Hong Kong

Where else have you lived?  I lived in Hong Kong until I was 37 at which time I moved to Dubai for a year with my ex.  Then we moved to London for four years.  I came back to HK seven years ago to restart my life.  HK was definitely the best choice for me.  I’ve been here in total 44 years, I spoke Cantonese before I spoke English!

Which part of Hong Kong do you live in? For the last seven years I have lived in Discovery Bay which I adore.  Before that Soho, Pokfulam, Old Peak Road, Stubbs Road and Happy Valley.

Children and ages?  When people ask me this, I usually say four kids and don’t explain further but technically they are my nieces and nephews.  I lost my beautiful older sister to cancer 13 years ago.  She was only 43 when she passed away and she left four beautiful kids that are my life.

Ayeesha, our oldest is now 32, just got engaged and is a teacher in HK.  Diveesha is 31 and living in London — she worked for Cancer Research UK.  Imran is 19 and is studying mathematics at the University of Southern California.  He has spent the summer in China mostly perfecting his Mandarin.  Our youngest Zubin, is 17 and in his last year of high school in Toronto.  He also competes in body building shows and recently placed second in a big competition in Canada.

The kids call me “Massi” — in Hindi it is the word for your mother’s sister.  It translates to “like a mother”.  In my heart, I couldn’t love them any more than I do even if I had pushed them out myself!  My sister would be immensely proud of her amazing kids.  They are all kind, generous, funny, intelligent, determined and hard working.  All the things that she was. She left a stunning legacy.

Are you working in Hong Kong and what do you do?  When I came back to HK I went back into relocations, helping people to settle into life here.  Although I loved it, it wasn’t enough to sustain me.  I decided to carry on selling Avon products, which I did in the UK as a sideline.  Over the next three years, the Avon business overtook everything in my life and I have done it full time for the last four years.  It’s no coincidence that my business took off when I was introduced to Hong Kong Moms by Sally Morris, a old school friend. We were in Dragon I having dim sum and she stole me that I should join the group as it was the perfect audience for my Skin So Soft by Avon.  That lunch changed my life!  Avon has become a part of my identity and I am so incredibly lucky and grateful to do something that I love so much.  I have been obsessed by beauty products since I was a kid and to be able to turn a passion into a viable business has been incredibly fulfilling.  It’s harder than I ever thought it would be.  I work seven days a week, all the hours there are in a day, sleep little but have never been happier.

What work did you do in your past lives?  I sometimes struggle to remember life before Avon!  After school finished in Hong Kong, I didn’t feel ready to leave and go to university. I knew I loved hotels so, I got a six-month trainee job at the Hong Kong Hilton.  It was amazing and I loved it but I also realized it was very hard to earn decent money in that industry until you were very high up — and patience isn’t my strong suit!  So I went to secretarial college here and thought at least I would always have a skill that made me employable.  I went on to work as a secretary for a few companies.  For the record I was the world’s worst secretary!  I guess I always knew I would be better off working for myself.  Eventually ended up in properties working with my sister at her property agency Sallmann’s Residential, it was an amazing education in salesmanship.  She was an incredible businesswoman, absolutely fearless and great fun to be around.  Working in properties led me to relocations which I loved because I loved helping people and not being commission driven!

What time of day do you check Hong Kong Moms?  Probably easier to say when I don’t check it.  I am permanently connected to my phone or laptop.  The first time I check my phone is probably around 6am.  As a lot of my orders come through recommendations on Hong Kong Moms, it is the first thing I look for.  My last orders can come through even at 2am.  I have loads of clients who are breastfeeding mums, who are awake at all hours and they are shopping online — I love it!  My friends tell me I should work 9-6 like a normal person, I doubt that will ever happen.

What posts do you comment on and why?  I like to help people.  I have been the recipient of so much help and goodwill that I really think it is important to do the same for others.  My family were here 50 years and built up really rock solid relationships with business people here.  I like to share my contacts and Hong Kong Moms is the perfect outlet for this.  I am a huge believer in supporting small business run by people who are amazing at what they do and do it passionately.

What is the best thing you have learned from Hong Kong Moms?  That there is nothing more powerful that a group of women supporting each other.  That there is a way to all move forward together, without losing our integrity or dignity.  When someone recently tried to threaten my business and my livelihood, the response of these wonderful women in this group overwhelmed me and humbled me.  I have felt so protected with so many people I haven’t even met in “real life” watching my back and offering assistance.  Just amazingly kind.

What is your favorite Hong Kong Moms post?  How do you pick just one?  I regularly spit my coffee out laughing when I read things on Hong Kong Moms.  The “Beaker”, the “Brazilian Blow Job” (sorry kids if you are reading this!), “Daisy’s Peppermint Army”.  So many.

What do you ask Hong Kong Moms?  I live in my little DB bubble and spend most of my days in Pacific Coffee meeting clients or working from home.  I don’t get out as much as I used to!  So, when I want a recommendation for a restaurant, Hong Kong Moms is amazing.  When my lovely niece came from London and she is a vegan, Hong Kong Moms was invaluable, as I am a total carnivore.  Random things like “how do I get my Rolex valued” — it was Hong Kong Moms to the rescue.

What is Your Biggest Hong Kong Fave?  And Frustration?  Biggest fave has to be the safety.  The world scares me at the moment.  I think about the atrocities that are taking place across the globe and I hate it that my family live all in different countries.  I wish they were all where I could see them and keep them safe.  I do personally feel safe here and these days, that is a luxury.

Frustration has to be the environment.  When I go outside and can taste metal in the air and I wheeze.  The blue skies and crystal clear nights that we have had recently remind me of how beautiful Hong Kong was when I was growing up and I have missed that.  The first thing I feel when I go to the UK or Canada is how sweet the air feels.  I pray it continues here but I suspect it won’t.

What is your craziest Hong Kong experience?  It doesn’t take much to make me giggle and there is a whole lot of crazy in DB.  Most recently, it was looking up from my laptop at Pacific Coffee to the sight of six mainland Chinese going past in single file all wearing Mexican sombreros.

Does anyone ever recognize you or your name from Hong Kong Moms?
Embarrassingly yes!  It actually happens a lot.  I spend an awful lot of time at Hollywood Hair, as most people seem to know, and a few years ago, while having my highlights done, with a head full of foils and hairdye, a lady came running across the salon towards me with my Facebook profile page open on her phone pointing to it saying “It’s you, isn’t it? The Avon Lady”!  That lady was Denise Pontak, the impossibly gorgeous photographer.  I was mortified to be caught looking so insane.  She then sat with me and we talked eyeliner for an hour!  My love for my hairdresser Rennie Fensham has brought me lots of new relationships on Hong Kong Moms.  Every time I am at the salon, Rennie introduces me to her clients from Hong Kong Moms.

What kind of friendships have you made through Hong Kong Moms?  Amazing friends who have supported me and helped me every time I needed it.  Some friends that I may not see often, or at all, but we are still there for each other. T he sense of camaraderie is incredible. In my “normal” life I might never have met Rennie Fensham, Sioban Guilfoyle, Kate Farr, Mawgan Batt, Marion Udall, Kate Bolton, Claire Yates, Sakshi Verma, Brooke Spiller, Gemma MacFarlane or Cara Ng and so many more.  My life is richer for having these ladies in it and it is because of Hong Kong Moms that I found them.  Besides being lovely ladies, they are all really smart businesswomen who have taught me so much and helped me grow my own business.  Eternally grateful.

Which Hong Kong Mom would you like you to see featured next?  I would love to see Sioban Guilfoyle featured.  She is a great mom and business woman and so generous with information and her time.

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