We encounter guardian angels at certain points of our life. Dr. Angel Tong is not only the beauty and slimming angel for every Hong Kong girl, she is also an angel in my life. She is always there like a sister and helps me whenever I am lost, just like a guardian angel would.
Before I met Angel, like everybody else, I assumed she is a very tough and strong career lady. To the contrary, she is just a young girl at heart who happens to also run a successful business. It amazes me how she becomes younger and younger even after dwelling so many years in the cruel world of business. From her looks to the heart, she is just like a 19-years-old young girl…
(Ong: Ong Yi Hing Tong: Angel Tong)
Ong: Everybody knows you are one of the pioneers in the beauty and slimming industry yet few of them know about your struggles when you first began your business…
Tong: I started my business when I was 19. I was several thousand dollars short of money and that was a huge amount to me. I wasn’t born into a rich family and my mother was a single mom. When I got home one day, my mom gave me a $50,000 cheque and said, “take this cheque and follow your dream! I have faith in you and your business will succeed!” My business broke even after a couple months of hard work, and one night when I got home, my nanny who took care of me since I was a baby revealed, “do you know your mom gave you every cent she had? She hasn’t paid me for the past two months. Don’t be mistaken, I am not complaining but I just want you to know there is no money left in the family, and to remind you not to squander any money or time…” I was shocked. I had no safety net so I couldn’t lose. I only slept every other night when I first started my business and I spent my days living with this “no turning back” attitude…
Young entrepreneur with no turning back
Ong: When Angel said, “the only way I can go is forward”, it reminded me of a quote from the movie, “The Grandmaster”: “Walk to the front and do not turn around”. For me, Angel has really become the “grandmaster” of the beauty industry. After so many years of hard work and achievements, have you ever thought to retire and relax?
Tong: Honestly, I did. During the latter half of 2011, I relaxed by taking part in other activities such as stage performance. Many people thought I was new to this but in fact I was a performing artist 20 years ago. I was the leading actress for the drama, “No Biz Like Showbiz”. I stopped performing since I was busy establishing my business as it was just beginning to get on track. I guess I only cared about making money at that time! (Laughs)
Ong: The slimming trend in Hong Kong was at its peak several years ago with numerous slimming companies with different gimmicks appearing in the market. However, no matter where the trend is heading, your business has always been strong in the industry. Many slimming companies use movie stars as spokespersons but you have always been the spokesperson of your company…
Tong: I can’t say I am the best spokesperson. I’m glad that my “showcasing myself” in recent years have been well received and liked. Many people teased me back then, (Ong: During the 90’s?) Yes, when I first started my business, I used my own name and face to promote my company. People would say, “she is so arrogant to put herself in the spotlight”, and others thought I was showing off; I just laughed it off. So why did I use my own name and face to do business? It was because when I was working for others, I found that many beauty companies were very manipulative. For example, they started a “Beautiful Beauty Centre” one day with exaggerating advertisements such as “you can lose 20lbs in 2 days”, “Enlarge your breasts by 4 inches in 3 days” to attract new customers. After they got the money, customers would find their treatments unsuccessful and complain to the consumer council. The same group of people would then just close down the company to avoid the repercussion, and start another new “ABC Beauty Centre” to continue the practice. It is still happening today. That was why I used my own name and face for my company. I made my customers a lifelong promise with my own name and reputation. (Laughs)
Ong: What is your opinion towards movie stars being endorsers everywhere? Are they creating bad competitions?
Tong: Many people asked why I chose Lin Chi-ling back then. You may laugh at me but I chose her because she was ordinary. In fact she was just an ordinary model at that time. I loved challenges so I wanted to give her a complete makeover, from body shape, skin quality to style and makeup.
Hoping her daughter will become a businessperson
Ong: You have a daughter and I know you love her very much. So did she change your philosophy or outlook of life when she came to this world?
Tong: I think my daughter is a gift from god. I had planned to live my life alone but after I got married and gave birth to my daughter, I never thought I would enjoy my family life so much! I admit that having a family slightly changed my path of life. Let me tell you a secret, when I was young, I had planned to become a nun when I reach 50…
Ong: I know you used flashcards to teach Janice (Angel’s daughter) when she was young, what is your expectation for her? Do you want her to become a businessperson?
Tong: Frankly, I really want her to become a businessperson! (Ong: Really? Most parents would just say they want their children to live happily and be healthy…) Of course, she is my only daughter and it’s most important for her to live happily and stay healthy. But when you asked if I want her to become a businessperson, I do, without forcing her. I hope I may guide her to the right path. Moreover, who else, if not her is better fitted to inherit my business? (Laughs)
Ong: Do you think she is gifted to become a businessperson? Has she displayed traits like determination or other entrepreneurial skills? Please share her stories with us!
Tong: Of course! I have always been optimistic. When I was young, I was cocky. When I was in P.4, I was rebellious and I slept through my math classes. I thought I could just use a calculator, so why bother learning math? So I skipped all math classes. Now I know I was wrong, learning math is to train our logical mind. My daughter is now in P.1, and one day she saw me using my calculator. The other day her tutor told me, “lately Janice hides away to do her math homework and sneakily uses the calculator in her iPhone to do her work.” At that moment I didn’t get angry, I couldn’t help but laugh. What I did in P.4, my daughter is doing in P.1! (Ong: Which means she is smarter than you!) Maybe! I explained to her afterwards that I wished I had worked harder in math back in the days, then maybe I can be even better today!
Ong: How many days a week do you spend with your daughter now?
Tong: I spend at least four days with her.
Ong: What worries you the most about your daughter growing up?
Tong: Falling for a bad guy! (Laughs)
The Soup of Love
Ong: If you were to meet your 19-years-old self again, what advice would you give her?
Tong: I would tell her, “spend more quality time with my nanny!” It’s my only regret. I don’t feel I’ve done enough for Nanny before she passed away. I feel sad even now. When I was young, a bowl of soup was always waiting for me after a day of hard work. I knew she loved me but I would always complain about her nagging as I drank the soup. Just when my business was picking up and I wanted to spend more time with her, she was diagnosed with cancer. I hurried back from Taiwan to take care of her during her last days but she passed away soon after…
Ong: You’ve done what you can, try to put the past behind you. At this stage of your life, what do you most want to achieve, career-wise and personal-wise?
Tong: I guess more personal! I am not ambitious in my acting career because I am not young anymore! (Laughs) I will see where my life leads me! I don’t know what lies ahead but right now, I think my daughter matters the most to me, I want us to live a happy life!
Postscript: Forever Nineteen
A friend of Angel who is a psychologist once said Angel’s business intelligence is 20 years ahead of her real age, which means she already had a 40-years-old business mind when she started her business at age 20. However, her life intelligence has always stayed at age 19 because the pure and innocent 19-years-old had been consealed since the day she started her business, until now.
The proverb “Nobody stays nineteen forever but there are 19-years-olds everywhere” doesn’t apply to Angel. She stays nineteen forever not because of beauty machines but her loving heart. She is blessed because she loves to help young people. Our world is now full of people with gorgeous looks but an evil heart and it makes someone as genuine as Angel even more precious and lovable. Perhaps Yi Shu, a famous Hong Kong author, says it best in the first line of her book, “Portrayal of an Angel”, “I like Angel because of many reasons…”
One of the reasons is because she will always be a kind and loving 19-years-old young girl.
唐安麒 (Angel Tong)
chairman of ANGEL FACE
* Doctor of Business Administration(Honoris Causa)
* Doctor of Natural Medicine of World Organization of Natural Medicine Practitioners (Certified Natural Health Practitioner of Canadian Examining Board)
* The University of Hong Kong, Division of Chinese Medicine, Chinese Medicine Cuisine for Chefs
* Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Instructor’s course on exercise and weight control
* Chairman of ANGEL TONG (INT’L) HOLDINGS LIMITED and founder of ANGEL FACE
* Chairman of Chinese Medicine Management Committee of Yan Chai Hospital 2000-2001
* The President’s Volunteer Service Award
* The Society For Professional Management Award
* China Outstanding Woman Award