Maggie Is On A Mission to Promote a Circular Economy Through Up-cycling Waste
What’s your story?
I am the founder of Ground Rule Studio, an eco-materials design studio. My studio is a green product company committed to sourcing and up-cycling waste, collected within Hong Kong, to create alternative, eco-friendly materials, and closed-loop solutions for various industries. Before starting Ground Rule Studio, I was a visual designer. I mixed my love for design and advocating green concepts using all-natural waste materials such as coffee grinds, sawdust, flowers, and leaves to create eco-friendly designs. My studio only uses biodegradable and eco-friendly materials for its products and packaging, and we only work with companies who share similar values.
What excites you most about your industry?
Part of the concept of material design is to enhance the recyclability of material and reduce the environmental burden. It is a very well known concept in other parts of the world, and well-practiced. It surprises me the practice of up-cycling has not taken hold, as a concept, in some of the minds of people and businesses in a metropolitan area, like Hong Kong. You can imagine how much time I spend educating businesses on the concept of how they can use the materials we make. It’s a long journey ahead, but that is what makes it exciting, especially when people see the potential, and are willing to collaborate.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Born in Hong Kong, raised in Minnesota, and in recent years, I relocated back to Hong Kong. I had the privilege of growing up in Minnesota where I was constantly surrounded by nature and was brought up with the concept of recycling. So I would naturally like to give back to my motherland by contributing my knowledge about how we can up-cycle Hong Kong’s waste.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong. For such a small place, Hong Kong is easily one the least eco-conscious places within Asia, and that motivates me to shine a spotlight on up-cycling in this great region.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Play with your disadvantages and rise from it.” Knowing and confronting your limitations and weaknesses takes humility and boldness. It doesn’t mean you have to focus on them. Just knowing them can help you stay on guard and prevent them from bringing you down. That will be the beginning of your rise to effectiveness.
Who inspires you?
The donors and collaborators. Every one of them sees the potential and believes in giving back to nature. The purity of their hearts is admirable, and it pushes me to do more good for the environment. The naysayers also inspire me, to prove them wrong.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Mealworms eat plastic and styrofoam. This could be the solution to our plastics waste problem.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Whatever happened in the past, shaped and formed the person I am today, and allowed me to bring the business to where it is now. So I wouldn’t do anything differently. I am forward thinking, and my drive is to keep making progress through continuous process improvement and new product design and collaboration.
How do you unwind?
Meditating, while sitting in silence with my pets, helps me unwind.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love nature. Anywhere with trees and birds, away from people, with a nice bench to sit on for book reading, with my pets, is a perfect spot for me to unwind and recharge.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less,” by Richard Koch (3rd edition).
Shameless plug for your business:
We are in the business of recycling and up-cycling, But it is more than a business, it is also a mission to encourage individuals and businesses to think and take responsibility for the waste they produce. At Ground Rule Studio, we are here to provide businesses a closed- loop solution for them to create an eco-friendly and sustainable business.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ 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 and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.