“I realized how delicate our world is and how decisions large and small - from what we eat, to who we shop with directly affect the Earth. How each individual decides to be conscious is a deeply personal thing.”
Please briefly introduce yourself.
Hi! My name is Vanessa Hong, and you can find me at @vanessahong. I started my career over 10 years ago with a blog called The Haute Pursuit (it’s currently under a rebrand!). At the time I had just graduated from Uni with a degree in Biochemistry and was working in a Biotech company. My hobby quickly became a second hustle and eventually my main one, which led to so many things including designing my own collection, modeling, brand consulting, and even a podcast!
My other great passion besides work is yoga, health & wellness + more recently, pilates. I’ve been practicing yoga for over 10 years now and have been plant-based (ish) for roughly the same time. I’m a clean beauty nerd and love seeing where the industry is going.
What is a typical day for you like?
I like to start each day with some type of movement - pilates, yoga, or a hybrid - just to get my energy moving. Depending on the day I may also sneak in a quick 11-minute meditation. Then I check in on the news, read the NYTimes, and listen to my favorite podcasts.
If I’m not on set & at home, I’ll break my fast around noon with a smoothie and fresh fruit. Sometimes I treat myself to a coffee (I try not to drink coffee every day as it can be dehydrating for the skin) and then settle into WFH. This can mean editing images, ideating with my team or taking zoom meetings.
I always try to get my steps in, so I’ll go for a walk at some point and sit outside and people watch or read a book. This has been so good for my mind especially on those days when I’ve been tethered to my laptop since morning.
My evenings are super chill - I eat dinner early around 5pm and then spend time with family and friends or just read for a couple of hours. Nighttime is my ‘me time’.
"I like to say my childhood was quite bohemian compared to most other Asian children. Because my mother worked, my sister and I spent our first 5 years of after-school in a Performing Arts Daycare. [...] I remember being 7 or 8 and learning about Picasso and trying to mimic his work on a giant canvas that was almost as tall as me. This openness and curiosity that was encouraged by mom are still with me today and I feel a big part of my success.”
How has your background and experience shaped the person you are today?
I think having come from a family of 1st and 2nd generation entrepreneurs followed by a more 9-5 corporate experience helped me early in my career to really work smart and fast. It also taught me to always fight for what I want. I like to say my childhood was quite bohemian compared to most other Asian children. Because my mother worked, my sister and I spent our first 5 years of after-school in a Performing Arts Daycare. I danced, painted, made movies, jewelry, and even woodwork all before I was 10 years old. I remember being 7 or 8 and learning about Picasso and trying to mimic his work on a giant canvas that was almost as tall as me. This openness and curiosity that was encouraged by mom are still with me today and I feel a big part of my success.
Does balance play a role in your life?
YES! I’m always striving for balance. My rising is in Libra (which is represented by an even scale) so I feel this on a cellular level, haha.
What are some tips on maintaining balance and taking care of your well-being?
First I want to preface this by saying to have more compassion for yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Balance is not a task, but a way of life.
For me having a clear demarcation between myself and my work is important. Am I a pro at it? No, but I’m trying. Taking time to be alone, to nurture my own passions is key. Last year really forced me to slow down and attempt to strike a healthier balance between all the different facets of my life. I recommend putting your phone away, doing things that get you into a flow state (for me it’s cooking and recipe development), journaling daily & getting those facetimes in with friends and family. Also, long walks, have saved me on so many occasions!
And lastly, be okay with things feeling out of whack at times - life is unpredictable. My advice is to have tools to mitigate those being tossed-into-the-wash feelings. Examples: having a hard ‘stop time’ on work, breathing exercises, making sure you’re hydrated and fed.
How has your perception of beauty evolved over the years? When do you feel the most beautiful?
I feel the most beautiful in the morning after a full night’s rest. No makeup, messy hair. Beauty has evolved for me in a really interesting way. I remember when my Mom was 35 and thinking ‘mom is so oooold!’ to now being around that age and never feeling more vibrant and beautiful in my life. I think this generation that I’m in is really redefining what beauty is at 30...and ultimately later at 40, 50, and beyond. Age really is just a number!
Are there any beauty tips from your culture that you can share?
I’ve been deep-diving into more TCM approaches to beauty in the last 4-5 years. I have a facial acupuncturist in New York who treats me as well as teaches me how needle points and meridians can treat sagging skin, wrinkles, and more. I’ve been using gua sha once or twice a week to clear out toxins from the area around my face and neck. I recommend everyone get a tui na massage once a week to reset the body and strengthen muscles and eliminate excess fluids.
And above all else - Chinese people believe true vitality is maintained by the food we eat and the environments we are in. This is why I always preach an inside-out approach. Good food, good people are tantamount.
What are your beauty and wellness rituals?
Before the pandemic I relied a lot on my facialists & body workers in NYC: Soo-Mi Hwang (facial acupuncturist), Yumi (Japanese reiki + lymphatic massage), Joanna Czech (facialist), Cynthia (facialist).
On my own, I’ll do gua sha 1-2 times a week (I used to do this daily until Soo-mi warned me that this can be very draining for the Qi in the head region), I dry brush every day in the morning before an ice-cold shower (even in the winter!), a hot bath with Epsom salts 1-2 times a week followed by self-massage with a luxurious oil, getting 7-8 hours of deep sleep every night, making sure I get natural vitamin D 10-15 minutes every day, the list goes on and on! I’m constantly discovering things on my own or through my teachers and use them prescriptively.
As I mentioned earlier, I do some form of movement every day - yoga, pilates + of course walking (4-5 miles minimum) followed by stretching & lengthening which is just as important as tightening them.
I love a good sound bath + guided Nidra meditation for days I feel like I really need a deep, cellular reset. My beauty rituals are 360 in and out.
What is the best beauty advice you’ve ever received?
Drink lots of water and do not drink alcohol or smoke. All of these things I adhere to!
What SUPEREGG product does your skin love the most?
I love Sound Renewal Moisturizer! The bottle is so beautiful and easy to use and I love how moisturizing it is without being ‘sticky’. It feels so light while giving my skin that dewy, moist glow.
What are you reading or listening to that has made a lasting impression on you lately?
I just finished Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, which was a sweeping Korean epic and something that really reverberated in me. Cathy Hong’s ‘Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning’ was a revelation and I think one of the most succinct and honest conceptualizations of what it means to be Asian today in 2021 and how we got ‘here’. A book I give to friends often is Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 - a mind-bending 3 part masterpiece that I fell in love with hard in 2020. My music taste is pretty wide, but I love Akua’s ‘Them Spirits’. For podcasts, I recommend (if you have not already listened) @VanessawantstoKnow season One dedicated to #asianexcellence. I also live for NPR’s Life Kit, which I always glean tips from. And for those of us travel nerds, I recommend bingeing on my friends Olivia Lopez show ‘The Art of Traveling’. And for home cooks and fans of Samin Nosrat, ‘Home Cooking’.
What are some conscious decisions we can make to help the environment and our planet?
For me when I first dove into plant-based eating, I didn’t know the implications of the diet on the planet. When I read more I realized how delicate our world is and how decisions large and small - from what we eat, to who we shop with directly affect the Earth. How each individual decides to be conscious is a deeply personal thing. Personally, I eat mostly plant-based, shopping from local farmers, and eating in season. In NY I walk everywhere or take a Citi bike and if I need a car I’ll try to carpool. I have drawers full of reusable containers and bags for shopping (this, I believe is simple and should be implemented everywhere). Of course, recycling and composting are key too.
A lot of my work (travel, samples being shipped, etc) carries a heavy carbon footprint, so I try my hardest to level this out as much as possible. My advice for people is to do what you can and educate yourself on how environmentalism affects your direct neighborhood. For me, it is part conservatorship and part activism.
What is your personal or professional mission?
The hope is to leave that person feeling inspired, more in themselves, and empowered.
What does being a Good Egg mean to you?
Be kind to yourself and others.
Make a wish for your future self.
To have all my wildest dreams come true!
Follow Vanessa's journey at @vanessahong.