Women Making History: Carolyn Li Ming Geh

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by Megan Montgomery

What do you do when the products you want to use aren’t on the market?  If you’re Carolyn Li Ming Geh (Li), you invent them.  

While Li had always had sensitive skin, it wasn’t until she moved from Malaysia to Canada for college that her skin sensitivities got worse.  As a child, Li’s father, an engineer, instilled in her a love for creating things using natural ingredients instead of chemicals, including food items such as soymilk and yogurt.  Li struggled to find skincare products that worked for her so she decided to tap into her childhood experience of sourcing her own raw plant-based ingredients, including guava fruit, turmeric root, cajeput, tamanu, vetiver, rice, and coconut, and developing a few formulas to address her skincare needs.

“While I was getting my Master’s degree in Neuroscience,” Li says, “I was scouted to be a double on a TV show, which eventually led to a contract with a top modeling agency in New York City.  As a model, I  had to be even more diligent about my skincare routine and I continued to refine my formula by combining ancient traditions with modern science.  Some of the make-up artists that I was working with kept telling me that I had great skin and asking me about the products that I used on my skin.”

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When Li informed them that she made her own products, they strongly encouraged her to launch her own skincare line.  As Li prayed about taking the leap to start her own business, Li decided to launch a skincare service brand that was not just nourishing for the skin, but also good for the soul. She wanted her skincare line to encourage women that beauty is much more than just skincare.  With that purpose , Li Organics (www.liorganics.com) was officially launched in Jan 2019.  

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Li had also had a dream many years earlier that had never left her and in that dream she built a school.  She decided that 10 percent  of her company’s profits would go to building classrooms and schools in poverty zones.  Attending school had always been a joy for her and opened up a lot of opportunities for her to go to Canada and the U.S. and then later travel to many other countries, which opened her up to a much broader world beyond her village. 

“I want children to have the opportunity to go to school,  get an education, and dream as big as they possibly can,” says Li. “I encourage everyone reading this to pay attention to the dreams on your heart as they might be there for a reason that’s much bigger that you. We also get to support local communities on the island of Penang in Malaysia, where our products are handcrafted in small batches using time-tested, traditional methods. We take no shortcuts to create the best product possible. These products are the very best nature has to offer, and I hope they nourish and make everyone who uses them even more beautiful than they already are. My promise is that we will never compromise on the quality, source, or safety of our ingredients, and you’ll certainly see that in the results!”

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Women Making History: Ogo Ekweozor - Holley

Ogo

by Megan Montgomery

Ogo Ekweozor-Holley is the epitome of a serial entrepreneur.  After obtaining her law degree at 20, Ogo has since founded six companies with a seventh on the way.  Her companies have spanned multiple industries, including fashion, real estate, and an agency generating funds for non-profits.  She is the founder of her eponymous fashion line OGO New York, which has an online and physical storefront in Brooklyn; and Style Chest which offers personal styling boxes direct to your door.  

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Ogo has a strong passion for giving back as well and founded the True Beauty Foundation which offers events designed to inspire and empower women. She created the True Beauty Conference in 2012 to provide an affordable, educational, and inspiring event for professional women and entrepreneurs. Her achievements are frequently recognized with awards including the YWCA’s Woman of Distinction and Economic Development award, Brooklyn Reporter’s Power Woman in Business, and Third Avenue Association’s Business Pioneer Award.  And, if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she is also married with three very active children under the age of four.  

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When I met Ogo, the first question that came to my mind is “how do you do it all?”  And, yes, Ogo is a firm believer that you really can do it all.  She believes that it is possible to have a happy marriage, fulfilling career, solid friendships, and still have quality time with your kids. 

“It’s not about work-life balance, it’s about harmony and finding a way for all of the things that are most important to you to sync together,” says Ogo. “If you are involved in a lot, you need to be really intentional about staying present with what you are engaging in at the time, whether it be with the kids, husband, friends or a work meeting.”  To help her do that, Ogo will frequently turn off her phone or put it in another room so she can really focus on the person or task in front of her.  She also finds that she prioritizes better when she starts her day with quiet time with God. 

“One of the keys to success as an entrepreneur is having a clear vision that’s bigger than you,” says Ogo. “You have to know your why.  Most businesses don’t make a lot of money in the beginning and it can cost a little more time and money to start than you would think, so without having a clear vision and purpose, you can easily get discouraged and give up.” 

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As a Christian woman who owns a business, Ogo looks for ways to live out her faith in everything she does. She does this by treating all employees and customers in ways that honors and values them, being ready to be a listening ear, and praying for people when they are going through something. She also leverages her businesses to give back to various charities including ones involved in stopping human trafficking and supporting education in underprivileged areas. Ogo is in the process of expanding her True Beauty Foundation to provide resources to teenage girls through afterschool programs focused on leadership development, business management, and entrepreneurship. 

“Giving back is the right thing to do,” Ogo says. “I believe that having a strong corporate donation culture also helps employees and customers to have a deeper connection to the company which boosts overall retention and employee productivity. Personally, giving back also adds to my big WHY when times get tough and helps me persevere for the sake of all the lives I’m touching.” 

Learn more about Ogo and register for the sixth annual True Beauty Women’s celebrationon Thursday, April 25, 2019.