Take 5 with ... WOMB's Maria
WELCOME BACK TO WOMB'S WEEKLY "TAKE 5 WITH..." SERIES. ROUGHLY ONCE A WEEK WE WILL FEATURE A SHORT INTERVIEW WITH A HK-BASED CONSCIOUS PERSONALITY.
THIS TIME, WE WANTED TO GIVE YOU A SNEAK PEEK INSIDE WOMB. PLEASE MEET WOMB'S VERY OW MARIA!
Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from, where did you study, and what brought you to Hong Kong?
I was born in Poland and moved to Denmark with my family when I was 12, so I grew up in Poland and Denmark half/half. I studied Art History in Copenhagen and when the art foundation I used to work for sent me to Beijing, I met Kasia. Together we founded WOMB, and we thought Hong Kong would be a good place for the new company to grow, so we both landed in here after some time living and working in Beijing.
Starting your own business is a major step - what was the turning point for you?
The turning point for me was a trip to Cambodia, followed by a change of jobs in fine arts. In one week I was surrounded by the most genuine Cambodians, willing to help me, take care of me, show me around their beautiful country, and the week after I found myself in the extremely corporate world of fine arts where institutions fight for prestige and exposure instead of selflessly promoting art projects and supporting artists.
Both in my private and professional life I want to do something that has a positive social impact. I want to help other people and do good to our planet, and working for a major, well-established art institution just didn’t give me the personal and professional fulfilment. Instead of fighting for common good, I worked to make very wealthy people even wealthier, and often they did not even care about others (people who stand below them in the artsy food-chain) or did not at all think about the environmental impact behind art projects, art work shipping, etc.
And I realized I had to make a change immediately.
What are your thoughts on pollution and waste in HK?
I don’t know whether it is because I am more aware of it now, or whether it’s because Hong Kong is such a dense city. Or maybe it simply got worse recently... But now I see plastic waste everywhere. I cannot help but notice the piles of surplus products (clothes, food, etc.) and pollution. Both on-line and off-line, I am being bombarded with images of waste and see the damage that our mindless consumption and over-production is causing our planet.
Definitely we have a waste problem in Hong Kong, but I also see many fit-for-fight environmentalists who want to raise awareness and get involved in making Hong Kong a greener place. So the situation is pretty bad, but I am filled with hope!
What's your personal battle? How do you make your everyday life greener?
To be completely honest, I still find it difficult to implement all the low-waste hacks in my everyday life. I have recently bought a reusable food container. I have been using a bamboo toothbrush for a couple months now, I have a reusable metal straw and skip the plastics when I go out (read here why it matters!).
I do grocery shopping on wet markets and thank no to the plastic bags. I also try to digitalize as much content at possible in order to save paper, and if we do need to print, eg. promotional materials for WOMB or business cards, we would use recycled paper.
Also, I am taking on the 333 challenge - from June 1st I will only use 33 items of clothing and accessories and wear these for 3 months. I started an Instagram account and will keep track of my progress. You can follow @minimalskab to see how it’s going!
Where do you see WOMB in 2 years?
The amazing thing about WOMB is the fact that it can be everywhere and anywhere. WOMB is essentially Kasia and myself, and whatever turn we decide to take with WOMB, the essence of it will still be the same. It is difficult to predict what will happen because we are so new on the HK and the international scene. Both Kasia and I are very young too, so we are filled with ideas and enthusiastic about life and its challenges.
I guess, in 2 years, I see WOMB in a place I couldn’t have predicted today - and that’s both geographically and conceptually speaking!