Mindful Chef caught up with Stella Heng, Co-founder and Creative Director of Sports Philosophy luxury ethical activewear brand.
How did Sports Philosophy come about? What was the catalyst for leaving your corporate jobs behind?
It kind of came about in a round-about way but being in corporate jobs can sometimes feel slightly 'soulless' and we realised we needed to do something with a real purpose. Therefore we decided we would form a business that would bridge the gap between for-profit and non-profit, with child labour as the focus of our mission. Child labour is widely known to affect the garment industry, so it made sense to be in the fashion industry, so did activewear, as health and fitness was slowly becoming a bigger trend - hence Sports Philosophy was born.
Where does your passion for health & wellness stem from? And what drives you?
Sports has always been a major part of my life - I competed nationally and internationally in tennis and tae kwon do, so keeping fit was the minimum requirement. It's tough to compete at your best if you're not healthy, and I'm lucky my mum made sure we had a good balanced diet. So it's always and will probably always be really important to me.
I'm a pretty competitive person, I want to be the best I can be, and also achieve the best with this brand and hopefully inspire other entrepreneurs and businesses to think and do more about the communities we affect. But what really drives me is that one day, I will hopefully be able to make a change in these children's lives.
Tell us more about the Freedom for Children Foundation.
We set up the Freedom for Children Foundation to campaign against child labour, which has always been at the core of Sports Philosophy. Part of the profits of Sports Philosophy goes towards the charity, alongside fund raising through the fitness events we host. The charity was created to find long-term solutions to the issue of child labour. So the funds go towards sending Impact Consultants to carry out on the ground research to identify the root causes of the problem, as well as collaborating on experimental projects to try identify long-term solutions to the problem, which we will then hopefully be able to implement.
Do you have a specific morning routine to set you up for the day ahead?
An early morning workout followed by a big tasty breakfast, and then I'm ready to hit work whether it's emails, designing or meetings!
And what does your typical day involve?
I don't really have a typical day, as every day is somewhat different as an entrepreneur. But it often involves a workout, meeting my team to discuss everything from social media to events and collaborations, attending meetings and calls. And of course the best bit, designing new collections and developing them with the factory.
What business struggles have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Wow - so many that it's hard to choose from! It's been such a rollercoaster experience to be honest but one of the key things has been trying to juggle so many aspects of the business and the charity with limited resources. I'm lucky we managed to get a great team together, but we could always do with more hands on board.
What’s your one piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
You have to believe in what you are doing, why you are doing it and most importantly, believe in yourself. There are going to be tough times, lots of them, but if you really believe in your idea or business, you'll find a way through it all.
What are your favourite hidden treasures in London?
Maybe not so hidden is F45 - my current go-to for a sweaty and fun workout. Pachamama is a go-to for delicious Peruvian food and the best gluten-free waffles with a whole load of toppings! Zetter Townhouse is one of my favourite after-work hangouts for a nice cosy cocktail with friends and Boxpark is great for a bout of window shopping - there are always new brands as well as awesome ones like Astrid & Miyu for beautiful accessories.
What is your ultimate health and wellness tip?
Balance - I really believe that it is key to leading a healthy lifestyle. 80% of the time I eat healthily but what's the point in living if you don't enjoy the moments including enjoying a few cocktails, or stuffing your face with cake once in while? And also thinking that it is OK, and not feeling guilty. Taking eating or working out to an extreme isn't good for our bodies or our mental health, so the only way, I believe, is through balance.
Finally, what exciting things can we expect to see from Sports Philosophy in 2017
We've got a few things in the pipeline - you may be seeing Sports Philosophy popping up in a few more countries, added pieces to the current collections and definitely a few more events for the Freedom for Children Foundation.