To support the disadvantaged, and to satisfy the world with the greatest comfort food ever, cookie entrepreneur Jo Soo-Tang and her business partner Agnes Chin founded Cookie Smiles, an online fundraising platform. Later this month, to celebrate their first storybook publication, Cookie Smiles will be partnering with several sponsors and organisations to create a fun event for the family to be enjoyed at The Upper House. The money raised will be invested into Cookie Smiles to support Shine Skills Centre graduates and employees.
In this interview, Soo-Tang, an NGO advisor, fellow cooking aficionado, and mother to three, talks to CSP Times about her career change, balancing her life and work, and her upcoming projects.
Can you tell us how you started Cookie Smiles?
When the pandemic started in Hong Kong in the early 2020s, my business partner Agnes Chin and I started Cookie Smiles as a way to spread joy and hope. I was a little burnt out from my NGOs work and I wanted to work in an environment that was less political and around a very simple business model.
What influenced you to set up this organization?
Agnes’ coffee shop operations and cake decorating retail background plus my marketing and business development experience allowed us to start an online fundraising platform for our social enterprise. Our purpose is to help support two chosen charities per year via fundraising initiatives, offer training opportunities for the disadvantaged and provide jobs for the physically impaired. We partner with HK Government’s Vocational Training School (SHINE) to provide opportunities for disadvantaged individuals to retrain as bakers.
How do you balance family life and running Cookie Smiles and how do they intertwine?
I have always worked and really can’t sit still. I find that my work gives me life purpose and personal balance, therefore I love involving my children in cookie sampling and brainstorming at home. It is definitely intertwined because my eldest daughter for example has helped me countless times at my events.
What are the key indicators by which you measure your impact?
The key indicators of our impact are the number of people we have helped through our charity partners and how it has involved the bigger, local community who have purchased our cookies; which is over two tonnes!
Who are the NGOs in the same space or in general whom you consider as role models or benchmarks?
The other social enterprise that is in the same space is iBakery which is owned by Tung Wah Hospital, but we are much much smaller in terms of scale.
What are the proudest moments in your career?
The proudest moment was the launch of our Gingerbread for Good 2021 pop-up campaign that took place with JOYCE. I was able to raise over HK$400,000 from the selling of 3,000 Gingerbread Men cookies.
What are your next upcoming projects/events?
We have our Matcha Moon event with The Upper House at the end of the month, as well as a jam-making event with The Mira Hong Kong, a pop-up with our beneficiary, Box of Hope in September, and Gingerbread for Good 2022 end of November onwards.
Images provided by Jo Soo-Tang