FOUNDERS' STORY

DORA LAM
Co-Founder, SLOWOOD 





Q: Do you remember the moment you decided to start Slowood?


DORA
: Jeff and I were taking our nightly walk after dinner. At the time I was about 8 months pregnant with our daughter. It was important for me to find organic and sustainable products for her, but these products were sold across different stores in Hong Kong. Running all over Hong Kong to purchase these products just wasn’t a feasible option. That’s when we decided to open Slowood, a one-stop-shop for purchasing sustainable and organic products.


Q: What does community mean to you?

DORA: Community does not have to be like-minded. This is not my priority, in fact we cannot grow if we all think alike. I value having people with different perspectives around me, so that we can motivate and learn from each other. Community is about my physical surroundings, my neighbors, the people who surround me.


Q: What was your community like growing up, what type of future do you want to leave for your children ?

DORA: I was born in the 80s and was raised in public housing around Tai Po. Back then the doors were never locked, so my neighbors and I spent a lot of time playing outdoors. 


DORA
: Naturally, I had a love for nature and the outdoors. I want my kids to live among nature, to have an understanding of how plants are grown and where they come from. As parents we do our best to expose our kids to nature. I hope nature will be a more integral part of their everyday life, not something they need to actively seek out.


Q: What are your proudest accomplishments from your Slowood journey?

DORA
: I’m quite proud of how we managed to spread awareness towards the zero-waste movement in Hong Kong. have noticed more people have made an effort to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics.  


DORA
: I think Slowood has built a new image for sustainability. An image that one does not have to sacrifice sustainability for aesthetics, that sustainability can also be for the young and trendy. In addition to aesthetics I am proud that we are able to merge lifestyle and grocery stores together, it’s rare to have both in one place.


Q: Where do you see Slowood and the zero waste movement in 10 years?

DORA: The concept of sustainability means something completely different ten years ago from what it means now. Even within the concept of sustainability, people are always pushing boundaries. I hope that Slowood will follow suit.

JEFF CHEN
Co-Founder, SLOWOOD


Q: Do you remember the moment you decided to start Slowood?

JEFF: When we found out Dora was pregnant, we started to think of how we can leave a better future for the next generation. Our first thought was to do this through a store that sold sustainable alternatives to everyday items.



JEFF
:  We were inspired by a zero-waste community store in New Zealand. The store offered a platform for different business owners to sell their own zero-waste products. The concept left a lasting impact on us. Naturally, we wanted to find a way to share this concept with the community in Hong Kong.


Q: Why did you create Slowood?

JEFF: When I was in my thirties, I felt extremely desolate about the state of the world. I didn’t feel fulfilled in my job in finance or through my participation in music festivals


JEFF
: Music was my way of sharing happiness and love with the world, but I didn’t think music was accomplishing that either. My life felt meaningless, it was like both parts of my life were cut in half and thrown away. I was at a really low point in my life, so I decided to quit my job and go on a journey to find my purpose. 

JEFF:  After traveling the world with Dora, I accepted that even the slightest action can help change the world. Even if my actions do not enact major change, at least I am raising awareness. As more people join the sustainability movement, I am confident they will find their own passion to fulfill in the sustainable movement.


Q: What is your work dynamic like and does that shape your family dynamics?


JEFF: We balance each other out both at home and at work. In the office, I work with numbers and concepts mostly. Dora is very creative so she contributes to the visual and design aspect of Slowood. In terms of personality, Dora is very calm whereas I can be quite ecstatic. She adds stability in my life whereas I try to bring out the excitement in her.


Q: Are there times where you feel frustrated by the slow progression of “Tiny Steps Forward?”

JEFF: We are not aiming for perfection. We can yield bigger results when large groups of people make tiny steps together. The little things bring me joy, such as when I see customers bring their own container to purchase our bulk items. On the other hand, there is still such a large group of people who still actively consume large amounts of plastic. When I see this, I can’t help but want us to move faster, so that we can move on to make bigger changes.


Q: How do you balance the needs of your customers who are at different stages of their zero-waste journey?

JEFF: It is definitely a challenge...partly why we chose our first store at Kennedy Town was for its size. We wanted to carry a wider range of products so that we may cater to the different needs of our customers. 

Where do you see Slowood and the zero waste movement in 10 years?Jeff: My dream is for a sustainable lifestyle to be more accessible and widespread. I am aware that current prices are not ideal for everyone, but I hope that one day it can be. As Slowood becomes more affordable, I hope that major supermarkets in Hong Kong can also shift to use less single-use packaging and carry more organic and healthy food at an affordable price.

JEFF: As for our suppliers, we have built a relationship with a wide range of people from our travels. Whether they have worked in the industry for 30 years promoting a vegan lifestyle, or just starting out in their journey. Both parties are putting in the effort to make a difference and to me that is worth sharing.


Q: Where do you see Slowood and the zero waste movement in 10 years?


JEFF: My dream is for a sustainable lifestyle to be more accessible and widespread. I am aware that current prices are not ideal for everyone, but I hope that one day it can be. As Slowood lowers our prices, I hope that major supermarkets in Hong Kong can also shift to use less single-use packaging and carry more organic and healthy food at an affordable price.