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27 Questions: Grace Ho, Founder and CEO of Veggroom

27 Questions: Grace Ho, Founder and CEO of Veggroom

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Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. In our 27 Questions column, we get up close and personal with the city’s notable personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same duration of a casual speed date. This week, we speak to Grace Ho, founder and CEO of Veggroom, a company that enables you to grow vegetables right at home.

Hong Kong‘s limited space and landscape is a challenge when it comes to agriculture and farmland. Fresh produce sold at a reasonable price is hard to come by. To Grace Ho, however, finding and growing fresh produce is as natural as breathing. She began the habit as a child, cultivating hydroponic salad greens and herbs inside her home. From there, she dreamed of transforming Hong Kong’s urban landscape into one with lush greenery and food gardens, providing fresh vegetables to anyone, anywhere. That was when the first seeds of Veggroom were planted inside her head.

Grace took the first steps in making her dreams come true with the release of Veggroom’s debut product in 2023, the Verda Garden Modular. Combining aesthetics and practicality, the modular set was designed with Hong Kong’s bustling lifestyle and tight spaces in mind. It fits into the furniture people already have and simplifies the most frustrating parts of home gardening by automating it. With only a little bit of maintenance, people can start enjoying vegetables and herbs that they grow right at home.

Through Veggroom, Grace’s dreams of turning Hong Kong into a greener city are slowly blooming into reality. By making fresh food and vegetables accessible to people, she hopes to reduce the city’s food transportation needs and carbon footprint. This will not only improve our health but also contribute to keeping our home planet a safe and comfortable place to live in. Join us as we get to know the person pushing for a more sustainable Hong Kong and how it all began.

Grace Ho Veggroom

Name: Grace Ho
Age: Post-90s
Neighbourhood: Hong Kong
Occupation: CEO of Veggroom Limited

1. What is your life motto?

Be the change you want to see in the world.

2. Who is your role model?

James Dyson is my role model because, like me, he shares a passion for both technology and aesthetics. His unwavering desire to create products that make life easier and more efficient resonates deeply with me. I am inspired by his ability to seamlessly combine functionality and visual appeal, as this is precisely what I aspire to achieve with my own creations.

3. What was your first job?

Assistant Geotechnical Engineer because I studied geology at university.

4. What is your drink of choice?

Hojicha Milk.

5. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?

Furniture that can grow vegetables and a drumset.

6. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Veggroom’s vegetables; the range of farm produce is wide, so I won’t get bored.

7. What is your biggest regret in life?

Not studying engineering, or else the product development process would be faster.

8. What is the top destination on your bucket list?

Northern Europe.

9. What is the best meal you’ve ever had?

In Korea, there’s a farm-to-table restaurant that grows its own vegetables indoors, ensuring freshness, while also creating a visually appealing environment. This unique concept inspires me, showing that indoor vegetable cultivation can provide both fresh produce and serve as innovative decor.

10. Which moment in your life would you most like to relive?

During my working holiday in Korea, I was deeply inspired by their emphasis on aesthetics in everything they do. I remember going to beautiful cafes every day, and it was during that time that I first fell in love with interior design. Seeing different product designs also shocked and inspired me. This experience completely changed my world and mindset because prior to that, I was solely focused on science and efficiency.

Witnessing Korean culture’s appreciation for beauty and design made me realize the immense value of aesthetics in enhancing our daily lives. It was during this time that the idea of combining my passion for growing vegetables with interior design and furniture began to take shape. This transformative moment sparked the birth of Veggroom, where I aim to create a space that seamlessly blends functionality, greenery, and captivating aesthetics.

11. What is your typical Sunday like?

Get up early, have brunch with my mom, and then work till midnight.

12. What is one movie everyone should see?

I like the movie Joy (2015) because it showcases a woman’s journey of rethinking and redesigning everyday objects, which ultimately makes life more convenient for others. It inspires me to create solutions that enhance convenience and improve people’s daily lives. The film’s emphasis on overcoming obstacles and following one’s passion motivates me to take action and make life easier for others. It encourages me to think creatively, embrace challenges, and utilize my skills to make a positive impact by offering practical and user-friendly solutions that enhance convenience in various aspects of life.

13. If you could invite any five people in the world to your dream dinner party, who would they be?

My mom, my brother, my aunt, my cousin, and me.

14. How often do you prepare your own meals?

Whenever I see things growing out from the modular, I’ll try to find recipes to go with it.

15. Where do you go when you want to be alone?

I go shopping to find inspiration.

16. What is your favourite childhood memory?

My favourite childhood memory is when I was in primary school and discovered my passion for design and creativity. I vividly remember the joy I felt in designing different products with unique functions and transforming things to improve their current state. It was a time when I truly enjoyed exploring my imagination and creating something new.

However, as I grew up, the pressures of studying and conforming to societal expectations gradually overshadowed this happiness. In Hong Kong, where I was studying, there was little emphasis on nurturing creative minds, and I found myself focusing solely on academic pursuits. It wasn’t until I entered the workforce and found myself in jobs that I didn’t enjoy that I started to realize the true meaning of my life. I yearned to create things that could make the world a better place — to pursue a path driven by innovation and creativity. Rediscovering this childhood passion has reawakened my purpose, and I am determined to pursue it wholeheartedly.

17. What is one thing you’ve never revealed to your parents?

Nothing, I’m not like a usual ’90s kid. My family’s got my back for everything. Kudos to them.

18. Who is the best teacher you’ve ever had and what is one important lesson that they taught you?

My high school biology teacher. Be critical.

19. What was the best gift you ever received?

See Also

An indoor gardening kit.

Grace Ho Veggroom

20. What is the best or worst career advice you’ve ever received?

The worst career advice I’ve ever received is “Don’t resign.” At that time, the people around me believed that the right path was to pursue a stable career that would bring in money. I vividly remember the moment when I made the decision to resign and pursue the things I truly enjoyed. The reactions from those around me were filled with disbelief and disapproval.

Many of my friends looked at me as if I were foolish and crazy for abandoning a seemingly secure path. However, as time went on, I began to realize that what I wanted in life was completely different from what most people desired. I discovered that money alone couldn’t buy me happiness or fulfilment. It was through the act of creating, of pursuing my passions and dreams, that I found true purpose and joy.

21. What energises you about your work?

Creating something with value that can improve people’s lives. The satisfaction of seeing the impact of my work and witnessing how it positively affects others gives me a sense of purpose and fulfilment. The joy that comes from doing meaningful work, making a difference, and aligning with my personal values is what truly energizes me.

22. If you could do it all over again, what is one thing you would do differently?

Learn engineering during university so that I can invent more products to achieve the above.

23. What is your favourite tradition?

No tradition appeals to me.

24. When was the last time you felt starstruck?

Watching my favourite drummer, Lee Yat Ding, perform.

25. What is your favourite thing to grow at home?

Mint, because I can make refreshing drinks with it like mojito.

26. What is the hardest part of starting Veggroom?

Balancing creativity in design and the cost of product development with limited resources. While wanting to create visually appealing and functional products, it becomes challenging to make decisions that align with both design goals and budget constraints. Simplifying the design and exploring cost-effective materials and production methods can help strike a balance.

For example, initially, I had planned to mass-produce a large hydroponics furniture piece. However, upon evaluating the manufacturing and logistics costs, it became evident that the idea was not financially feasible. This realization prompted me to explore alternative solutions, leading to the concept of modularity. By embracing modularity, I could not only reduce costs but also create a versatile indoor gardening system that seamlessly integrates with any interior. This innovative approach not only saves on production expenses but also empowers individuals to grow their own food anywhere/inside their furniture, revolutionizing the way we incorporate food cultivation into our living spaces.

27. What do you hope to achieve with Veggroom?

To really start the “grow your own food trend” by allowing vegetables to be grown anywhere, everywhere. Over the past few years, I have contemplated my role in society and the value I can contribute. I believe that transforming Hong Kong into an agricultural hub with farms scattered throughout is the answer. My goal is to simplify the process of food production, making it accessible for everyone to grow their own food. By doing so, individuals can have a greater sense of self-sufficiency, promote sustainability, and foster a stronger connection with nature. Ultimately, I aspire to inspire a community of urban farmers and create a positive impact on both individuals and society as a whole.

Images courtesy of Veggroom and Grace Ho. For more 27 Questions, click here.

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong

Source: Prestige Online

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