Many people in Hong Kong do amazing things for others in need through charity work. We look at one such organisation here, Cookie Smiles, and chat to co-founder JO SOO-TANG about its aims and hopes – and how it has literally sold a tonne of cookies in HK!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I was born in Hong Kong to parents of Japanese, Shanghainese and Polynesian descent and grew up in HK, the UK and Australia. My career started as a paralegal for PwC, which was Coopers and Lybrand back then. Then I moved on to a marketing role at AT&T and returned to Hong Kong with the company. After a career with several PR firms, I went into consultancy to have a flexible working schedule when I had my kids.
Cookie Smiles has just turned one – congrats! What prompted you and Agnes Chin to launch the enterprise?
Cookie Smiles wasn’t planned at all. I had been involved with a private hospital foundation and wanted to do something of my own, while Agnes had this idea brewing in her head for a long time. One day in April 2020, she shared the idea with me, and Cookie Smiles was born. It was the right project at the right time!
What’s its chief mission or aim?
Cookie Smiles is a social enterprise under the Edible Artists Global Academy Association (EAGAA) whose purpose is to help support our chosen charities per year via fundraising, offering training opportunities for the disadvantaged and providing jobs for the physically impaired.
What’s your role there? Give us an insight into some of the work you do.
I’m the Co-Founder of Cookie Smiles, which means that I handle most of the marketing and business development. Being the spokeswoman of a social enterprise is hard work!
What do you get out of this work?
Mostly my own satisfaction and joy! At the end of the day, it comes down to what I’m passionate about these days: eating and cooking!
Are you a foodie, or do you have a food background?
Yes, I would consider myself a foodie. But I don’t have a food background.
Do you have a favourite Cookie Smiles cookie?
My favourite by far is the Coconut Crunch!
Tell us about some of Cookie Smiles’ key achievements to date.
We’re proud to announce that the charity has raised over HK$100,000 for its annual beneficiaries, Splash Foundation and the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association. That’s over one tonne of cookies, or equivalent to almost over 6,000 bags of cookies sold citywide!
Is there a particular focus for the rest of 2021 and beyond? What does the upcoming Bake Challenge involve?
Yes! We’re aiming to do more industry collaboration this coming year. We have a lot of interesting projects coming up for the new beneficiary ImpactHK.
One such collaboration is our Bake Challenge, which is currently underway. It’s a challenge that is completely open to the public, with each competitor having to create and develop their recipe from the list of ingredients provided. The recipe must include one of these special ingredients: Hysan’s Urban Rooftop Garden Rosemary or Peppermint.
Can readers volunteer, contribute or help in some other way?
We’re always looking for volunteers to help with events, graphics, photography or just by spreading the word.
Like this? See more in our Hong Kong Charity Focus series in our Living in Hong Kong section