Laurie Lemmlie-Leung and her husband started their own organic business to support the sustainable textiles movement.

What’s your story?
After moving to Hong Kong with my husband, I worked for an accounting firm. I hated it. Being stuck in a cubicle makes quietly looking for a job (pre email days) impossible. I quit and went to help my husband. It was supposed to be temporary, but we liked working together, so 30 years later here I am. Sapphire International Ltd. has morphed several times over the years. For the last twenty we’ve been manufacturing home textiles primarily for children. We started our own brand Breganwood Organics in 2010 in an effort to promote and support the sustainable textiles movement.

What excites you most about your industry?
The textile industry has always been a major polluter. They have taken note. Many companies, both big and small are working together to find new and better ways to manufacture textiles including more sustainable raw materials, better manufacturing processes, improved design and customer engagement. It is inspiring to work with and learn from people who are committed to improving the industry.

What’s your connection to Asia?
When I graduated from college I joined the U.S. Peace Corps and was assigned to the Philippines. What was supposed to be a two year stint turned into three. Afterwards I stayed in the Philippines for another seven years working with Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees. I also met my husband, a Hong Kong native. When we first married he moved to Manila but we eventually returned to Hong Kong where he took over the family business. I’ve been in Asia all my adult life.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I have only done business in Hong Kong.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“If you never make a mistake you are not trying hard enough.” In other words, don’t be afraid to try new things. You cannot let the risk of failure stop you from trying. And, as my mother used to say, “Can’t means, you don’t want to try.”

Who inspires you?
Many people. Both my grandmothers, each raised families, almost single handedly, in the middle of the depression. People who face extraordinary difficulties in their lives but are still filled with gratitude because they manage to concentrate on the good things in their life.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
According to Redress, there are 111,690 tonnes of textiles being sent into landfills each year, which is the equivalent to around 15,000 garments ending up in our already overflowing landfills every single hour. We need an attitude readjustment towards how textiles are purchased, used and discarded.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Learn Cantonese. I hate it when people ask how long I’ve lived in Hong Kong, because the next statement is “oh you must be fluent in Cantonese”. No, I am not.

How do you unwind?
I have a couple of close friends and we hike every Sunday. I also recently learned to crochet. It’s very relaxing.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. It is beautiful, the people are friendly, it is easy to get to, the food is delicious, lots of nice resorts and spas and it is not too expensive.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. It’s an old one, but still very relevant.

Shameless plug for your business:
If you are looking for a few adorable, cosy towels for kids go to Also, check out our newest product – cotton muslin throws.

If you’re looking for a manufacturer contact us! Sapphire International Limited is a great company to work with. We partner with companies great and small to create unique, quality home textile.
If you are in Hong Kong and want a great deal, meet The Quarry Bay Towel Lady. Our newest website offers stock bath towels and limited edition samples at great prices. www.thequarrybaytowellady.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
Download free copies of his books here:

Recently Published

Key Takeaway: Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk, aims to implant a brain-computer interface (BCI) in people’s brains, allowing them to control computers or phones by thought alone. This technology holds the promise of alleviating human suffering and allowing people with disabilities to regain lost capacities. However, the long-term aspirations of Neuralink include the ability to […]

Top Picks

Key Takeaway: Water is essential for development, production, and consumption, but we are overusing and polluting it. Eight safe and just boundaries have been identified for five domains: climate, biosphere, water, nutrients, and aerosols. Humans have already crossed these boundaries for water, but the minimum needs of the world’s poorest to access water and sanitation […]
Key Takeaway: Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing investment by making professional financial insight and portfolio management accessible to everyone. AI-powered robo-advisers, such as Betterment and Vanguard, are democratizing investment and providing tailored advice to a new generation of investors. With 31% of gen Zs and 20% of millennials using robo-advisers, the financial industry is adapting […]
Key Takeaway: Nasa’s Artemis program is set to return astronauts to the Moon and establish a permanent orbiting laboratory by the end of the decade. As humanity’s footprint expands, a new field emerges: astroforensics. Space presents a unique and harsh environment for forensic investigations, with altered gravity, cosmic radiation, extreme temperatures, and oxygen-providing climate systems. […]


I highly recommend reading the McKinsey Global Institute’s new report, “Reskilling China: Transforming The World’s Largest Workforce Into Lifelong Learners”, which focuses on the country’s biggest employment challenge, re-training its workforce and the adoption of practices such as lifelong learning to address the growing digital transformation of its productive fabric. How to transform the country […]

Join our Newsletter

Get our monthly recap with the latest news, articles and resources.


Welcome to Empirics

We are glad you have decided to join our mission of gathering the collective knowledge of Asia!
Join Empirics