Marianne Caroline Hughes

Occupation: Founder and CEO, Kno Global

Website: www.knoglobal.com


Instagram: marianne.caroline

HOW DID YOU IDENTIFY YOUR PASSION AND THE WORK THAT SATISFIED YOU VERSUS WORK THAT JUST PAID THE BILLS?

I’ve always felt a calling to do something meaningful. I see work as a form of giving back, not something that just pays bills. When I came to Hong Kong for the first time several years ago, it was shortly after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh when 1,134 people died making our clothes. This sparked my attention into sustainable and ethical fashion, and I got to intern with incredible female pioneers in the space: Rakhee Shah, Founder of fashion brand Maisha Concept and Christina Dean, Founder of NGO Redress. These experiences helped me to identify my passion for the field of ethical fashion – and they say the rest is history! I’ve been on a mission to transform the fashion industry and the way we connect with factory workers ever since.

WHO WILL ETERNALLY BE A WOMAN YOU ADMIRE AND RESPECT, AND WHY?

I would have to say my mother, which is a cliché answer but the truth. I say this partly because she is from Finland and an empowered female spirit is part of their culture. She’s very determined and her sense of adventure to travel and live abroad made her a bit of a pioneer in her time – which inspired me. Despite the challenges life throws, she keeps a beautiful sense of care for herself and she’s my style inspiration!

IN LIGHT OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF OUR HASHTAG #WHYITRIBE, WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE WHO WE ALREADY ARE TODAY?

I remember when Samata told me about this philosophy, it really resonated with me. I have personally been worn down by my ‘need to perform’ in my younger days (and still have to manage it!), and it took me effort to stop and appreciate where I already was. These days I try to take more time to celebrate, and it has to be a daily ritual.

NAME A TIME RECENTLY WHEN YOU SAID SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF/HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Great question. Earlier today I was looking back at a Instagram post I wrote about when I was shortlisted for an award, and I read my own words and thought ‘you’re quite inspiring’ (ha!). I remember at the time I wrote that I was wondering how on earth I got shortlisted for it, but today I can look back and say ‘wow, you deserved that’. It made me feel deserving of the rewards that do come our way.

WHY DO YOU THINK WOMEN SHY AWAY FROM CELEBRATING OR PRAISING THEMSELVES SO MUCH?

You can see me demonstrate this in my previous answer! I think part of the problema is fear of jealously. which is why we need movements like The Tribe, because we need more ‘women for women’. Plus we need to remember that none of us have the same DNA, so we can’t compare one person’s celebration to another’s – and we can find beauty in that!

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE TENDENCY TO DISCREDIT COMPLIMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN?

By being grateful. You can be grateful for the individual who took the time to compliment you, if acknowledging thanks for the actual compliment is too much at first. And then later you can take some time to meditate on the truth about the compliment. I used to write down all the compliments I got in the back of my journal, and I would refer to them whenever I felt like it. The more your brain gets used to hearing compliments, the more familiar it becomes. Don’t discredit compliments, but stay humble at the same time!

WHO WAS THE FIRST FEMALE TO TEACH YOU OR INSPIRE YOU TO FEEL THAT #YOUAREENOUGH?

A couple young female pioneers come to mind, I remember Malala and Emma Watson showing me that age and gender are not disqualifiers in fighting the battle for social justice. We’re not just enough, we are needed. To deny we are not enough, would be deny what we have the potential to give to others. I remember a quote Emma Watson read out “If not me, then who? If not now, then when?”.

HOW DOES SOCIETY REINFORCE THE IDEA THAT WE, AS WOMEN, ARE NOT ENOUGH AND HOW CAN WE TAKE THAT POWER BACK?

I find it challenging in business sales meetings when people enforce this idea through the way they look at me, before I even open my mouth – based on my age and gender. We can take the power back when we do open our mouth! Every word has the power to speak life and truth.

ARE WE TOLD ENOUGH AS YOUNG GIRLS THAT #WEAREENOUGH? IF NOT, HOW CAN WE CHANGE THIS MESSAGING FOR YOUNG GIRLS TODAY?

Not nearly enough. I think it needs to go back to education, but now so much of our ‘education’ is also found online through what we learn on social media. So I think we all have to take responsibility as individuals for the content we’re sharing and whether it reflects the ‘I am enough’ vibe. This is something I’m trying to be more conscious of than I was before, as I try to mix the ‘girlboss’ movement in with the inner journey towards finding peace and self-confidence. I’m still working on how to repressent this best, but I follow some cool inspirations on social media such as fellow female entrepreneur Nafisa Bakkar who is very real.

WHAT WOULD YOU GO BACK AND TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF, TO ENCOURAGE SELF-ESTEEM AND SELF-LOVE?

That you don’t need to try to be perfect. Rest and reflection is just as important to the journey as productivity. In fact, rest is productive if you want to think of it that way! I wish I had taken more times to step back, rest and reflect when I was younger – I believe it could have prevented some unproductive mistakes I made.

WHERE DO YOU THINK THE NEED TO COMPETE WITH OTHER WOMEN COMES FROM? IS IT TAUGHT?

I think it is taught. Growing up around my mum who’s super self-confident, I didn’t feel much of a need to compare myself with others. Then when I went to an all girls high school, things started to get competitive. I think it’s also cultural, because we’re born into a world where we’re sadly still competing for attention. Even if we’re lucky enough to live in a setting or part of the world where it’s not so much about the pressure for getting the attention of a man, this identity of needing to compete might start from here and translate into other areas of life too.

WHY IS THE TRIBE MOVEMENT IMPORTANT?

I remember going to my first Tribe gathering in London with Samata, and I think the most important element is diversity. I loved walking into a room full of women different to me (as well as some similar to me) and realising how much we shared. I didn’t feel it was about competing, but about celebrating. There was another panel event Samata hosted, where women shared their honest journeys on the road to success – so I think this honest story sharing makes the movement important too.

HOW ARE YOU TRYING TO KEEP YOUR SELF-ESTEEM UP IN THE MIDST OF THIS GLOBAL PANDEMIC AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS READING THIS?

I’m trying to keep socially close to the people who make me feel good. Despite not being able to see friends in person so often, it’s made me connect and get closer to some friends who I really feel good around even if that’s on a phone call. I think the pandemic has been a great opportunity to evaluate your social network. Think about the conversations and people who make you feel good, and if you feel something is missing perhaps it’s time to reach out to new and healthier influences. You are deserving of the same love you give out, and your growth can be quite dependent on your social network and people around you.