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A Chat with Kara Arnaudy, Founder of Hong Kong Moms
by: Rubin Verebes
February 15, 2022
Need advice about tutoring and teaching your children? Best cafés for play dates? Need contacts for moving companies? Hungry for a holiday but don’t know where? Or simply want to connect with other parents? Hong Kong Moms has been the central location online for advice, suggestions, and help for Hong Kongers for 12 years.
The Hong Kong Moms Facebook Group was created in November 2010 by American expat to Hong Kong, Kara Arnaudy, who saw a need to create an online space for resources, connecting to other English-speaking immigrants, and sharing advice about living in Hong Kong. In February 2022, it has over 63,000 followers.
The Beat Asia sat down with Kara to hear her story about why she created Hong Kong Moms, what the group has grown to become, and what it means to be a Hong Kong mom.
Hi Kara, thanks for sitting down for this interview. Tell me a bit about yourself, what brought you to Hong Kong and what impression did the city give you first coming here?
I moved to Hong Kong from Tokyo with my husband for our jobs in finance. It was supposed to be a four-year gig and then Lehman Brothers went bankrupt! At the time, we debated going “home” (wherever that was), but ultimately decided to stay in Hong Kong indefinitely. I was bereft when job circumstances forced our relocation.
Saying goodbye to Hong Kong was very difficult on many levels. I still mourn for our Hong Kong life. Unfortunately, travel restrictions have prevented all my attempts to return to Hong Kong recently. However, I continue my passion project, [which is] Hong Kong Moms.
What was your family life like in the city?
Family life was idyllic in Hong Kong. We were surrounded by interesting people from all over the world and it was easy to forge strong bonds with people who became like family. We travelled to incredible places, tried every type of food, explored, adventured, and grew our family in a safe city that fascinated me every day.
The schools were excellent, and we felt that our children were growing up with broad horizons and curious minds. Having domestic help allowed us to spend more quality time with the children. I am forever grateful to our “aunties” who became part of our families.
Why did you want to create something like Hong Kong Moms (HKM)?
While Hong Kong was endlessly fascinating, it was also daily-life-challenging. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to source and locate basic items. Hours were spent in traffic wondering why Stubbs Road was a parking lot.
English language news was limited and not real-time. It is a transitional city with new people constantly coming in asking the same questions and wondering how to get things done. I started Hong Kong Moms to share information and it quickly exploded.
What did you intend for the HKM group to do?
The intention of Hong Kong Moms was always to share information, connect with and support each other and make daily life a little bit more efficient. More than 11 years later, it is still one of the main resources for thousands of people in Hong Kong every day.
What success have you seen with HKM?
Statistically speaking, Hong Kong Moms is successfully continuing to grow and evolve. However, I measure success by the number of people it has helped over the years. Members are generous with advice, support, and ideas.
There are countless stories of ways Hong Kong Moms has come to the rescue in a variety of different circumstances. I believe that the legacy of Hong Kong Moms will be that it has been a friend, advisor, confidante, and tour guide through the various stages in someone’s Hong Kong life.
Has there been profit or business that has come out of your ventures with HKM?
A few years ago, I partnered with a dear friend who helped me to expand the group to include a website with more curated content about specific topics of interest including profiles, travel, books, and focus pieces.
The group also offers a Sponsored Post option that allows local businesses to promote services and products in the group. It’s limited to a handful per month to prevent the group from being inundated with advertising while also helping to justify the considerable amount of time spent supporting and maintaining the group.
Daily, I review member requests, delete inappropriate content, and oversee the flow and culture of the group. At times, I have considered bringing on additional administrative support, but my concern has always been to preserve the original feel. Similar to any job, it’s impossible to keep everyone happy and people don’t always agree with my decisions, but I try to be objective and fair. Social media is an easy medium for people to weaponize their opinions, but I try to keep the conversations as positive as possible.
A few years ago, I was contacted by a company interested in buying and taking over the group and website. However, the company did not have any intention to manage the group and retain the culture. I declined the offer as they were only interested in inundating the captive audience with advertisements.
What does it mean to be a “Hong Kong Mom”?
The term “Hong Kong Mom” is really a misnomer. If there was one thing I wish I had done differently, it would have been the name of the group. The group quickly expanded to include just about every type of English-speaking person in Hong Kong.
The information was especially relevant to parents, but it was useful to almost everyone. Once you settle on a name and it becomes well-known, it was too late to change it.
What is the future for the group?
I am hopeful that the group can continue to support people who need it for years to come.
Thanks for chatting to us, Kara!
You too, Rubin.
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