Martina has a mission to make people healthier. She started a business delivering fresh organic local vegetables from farms to tables in Hong Kong.
What’s your story?
Stories are part of the past and I am one who looks at the future most of the time 🙂 But having said that, I come from an Italian family with a long tradition in agriculture. Born and raised in a small countryside village, I escaped my already started a path in the family business to study Chinese, out of love for a book…yes! the I Ching, or Book of Changes. And I would have never imagined that one day, after a degree in Chinese translation (followed by a never completed master) I could have been running a startup in Hong Kong, in agriculture, and a few years later I would have become a health coach and an aromatherapist. I guess that “change” is an in-built feature of mine and I love it.. ask me instead, what’s next?
What excites you most about your industry?
I will refer to the wellness industry, where I feel I belong to and where also my main business, Eat FRESH falls into. We are living exciting times, not even comparable to seven years ago when I started delivering fresh organic local vegetables from farms to tables in Hong Kong. People today are a demand for real, safe, nourishing food that tastes good and does good (to people and to the environment). It is like witnessing a collective awakening and doing business on this stage, the right way is very fulfilling.
What’s your connection to Asia?
14 years living between China and Hong Kong, my Chinese studies, my beloved son born in Beijing… I feel at home here.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong of course! Very business friendly, very efficient, full of opportunities. But not for everyone or every sector: talking about changes (did I say I like them?), in this city business can thrive a day and die the day after, so to say. Everything here is fast-paced and you have to keep up to it, most of all are you are self-made.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
For business? That there is no separation between business and life, if there is, you are in the wrong place.
Who inspires you?
My dad, he has always inspired me in his way of doing business, not running after money, but wanting to create value, to lead the way, and to care for people. He was certainly not the most well-off guy in town, but he has always been, and still is someone whom people turn to for advice, a good chat or sharing a good wine!
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It blows my mind away from that the mind is limitless, it really is. I am a strong believer that our thoughts make our reality. I experienced that and still do so I am very careful of what I feed my mind with and how I process what life brings to me. That is why my spiritual practice is so important to me.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Not much really, I am who I am because of the path I walked. But I would have started meditating much much earlier in my life. And I would have even made some more mistakes 🙂
How do you unwind?
I rarely need to unwind, honestly. Stress is something I learnt to manage pretty well, a strong routine helps: I do yoga just out of my bed early in the morning, I write gratitudes, say my prayers, meditate, of course, go out in nature when I can, stay in contact with the people I love, I eat good food, sleep enough, and have a very good dose of fun constantly. Yes, I do work as well and I also raise a kid on my own.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Too much to mention, from Hong Kong many places are so easy to reach. I love Thailand though, for the food, the yoga and spiritual scene, some fantastic beaches and the scenery.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. Good for business and for life, really.
Shameless plug for your business:
More than in a business, I’m on a mission here: to make people healthier and happier. Because from that place, power arises and then it is a ripple effect for the better. People, we are what we eat and what we eat makes a difference, not only to ourselves but to our Planet as well! I’m proud to say that Eat FRESH has been serving this purpose very well so far!
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’.