Expat Entrepreneur - Isabelle from Leap and Hop

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1. Some personal details

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2. Where do you currently live, and what makes it special? 

Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a vibrant city where you can reinvent yourself.

3. What is your current business venture?

I write travel books for kids

4. What things do you always ask your guests to bring out for you from home?

Even though you can find almost anything in Hong Kong, my perfume and my favorite French magazine have to be brought in from France. From the US, I bring some tea that is prepared in Brooklyn.

5. In what ways have you changed personally or professionally since living abroad?

I used to be a banking and finance lawyer in a big New York firm and I'm now a travel writer. That's a big change!

6. What are some of your personal highlights since living abroad?

Besides fulfilling my travel lust, I have spending a lot more time exercising and developing my passion for singing jazz.

7. What was the trigger that made you start up your own business? How did you have the initial idea?

After our move, I became the travel agent of the family. We've always loved to travel as a couple and then as a family and the move to Asia opened the door to many adventures. We wanted to take the kids to places that were not particularly kid-friendly but interesting from a cultural standpoint (our kind of trips). My original idea was to prepare journals for the children to help them connect with the place (Cambodia). I started with and I-spy in the temples of Angkor, but then I thought it would be more interesting if they knew a little more about the Ramayana and other Hindu myths. Then I moved on to Hinduism and Buddhism, history, geography, architecture and food and then one thing led to another and I ended up with a 100-page book. The kids were so happy with that trip that I wrote another one each year for our big Christmas trip (Sri Lanka and Rajasthan). As my friends' kids gave me positive feedback I thought I was on to something. I found an illustrator and a publisher and that's how it all started.

8. What areas of your business have you struggled with? Where and how have you got help for that?

What I really enjoy is the research, the writing and the testing with my kids. I've struggling with marketing and PR. I found it hard because there is not really an existing market for travel books for kids and people don't think about it when they plan a family trip. In that respect, Hong Kong is fantastic because there are many women entrepreneurs and a lot of support. I'm part of business buddy group of women who help each other.

9. What have been some of your business highlights / rewarding moments (why should others set up their own business).

Because I've been doing the business side by myself, I've had to learn all sorts of new skills such as marketing, managing a website and basic accounting. I also discovered a whole new industry with the publishing world as well as the travel world. It's been really interesting.

10. What is the best bit of advice you can give for others wanting to set up on their own?

The piece of advice that I haven't followed in the beginning: "don't try to do it all yourself" .

11. Have you adopted any new customs or traditions from various places you have lived?

After so many years in Asia I'm now used to drinking hot water or tea during meals.

12. What is different about your normal routine currently compared to what it would be back at home?

It's hard to say because my life is very different now that I work from home and spend so much more time with the children. I've started meditating and exercising more regularly.

Leap and Hop Series

Leap and Hop Series

13. What is your:

Fav book: "Les illusions perdues" and "Splendeurs et misères de courtisanes" from Balzac, my favorite writer.

Podcast: Hardcore History with Dan Carlin

 "Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced" by Kierkegaard

Bloggermumpack travel

14. If visiting your current city where are your favourite spots to go for:

Dinner: Gough on gough

Drinks: Sevva

Day trip: Hiking in the New Territories

Must see: Kowloon

Coolest Shop / Brand: GOD (Goods of Desire)

Best entertainment: Life jazz

Favourite way to stay fit: Running and spinning

15. If you could go back and give yourself advice what would it be?

There is no age limit for starting something new


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