Bonnie Gokson: The style icon with the gentle touch
The transition from a life of luxury to groundbreaking entrepreneur still requires a leap of faith, writes Marie Incles
She may be credited with transforming the dynamics of the cake and luxury bar scene in Hong Kong, but Bonnie Gokson has never let go of her natural sensitivity and attention to detail.
"I see my work as a service and I try to give the best in what I do. I try hard not to be that 'metal' hard woman in business. As a woman, I still like to be gentle, soft and feminine, but sometimes I must admit it's extremely difficult, especially in my field," she says.
A serial entrepreneur and one of Hong Kong's notable style icons, Gokson has launched more than 45 high-end stores and boutiques specialising in fashion, homeware, flowers and other lifestyle merchandise. In 2008, she opened the ultrasophisticated Sevva, Hong Kong's most glamorous bar and dining spot: the place where visiting international clientele and celebrities are to be seen basking in her interpretation of a life in high-end fashion, retail, travel and entertaining.
Like so much of her career, which has been marked by successful business launches, the past 12 months have been particularly fruitful for Gokson. She has opened two new C'est La B cafes, extended her Ms B's Cakery outlets in Tai Hang and Pacific Place, and has signed a deal to open another Ms B's Cakery, offering her rainbow of intricately presented desserts, in Kowloon next year.
A scion of an illustrious retail family in Hong Kong, Gokson was brought up in an environment of refined living and good taste.
She started her career working with her sister Joyce Ma, who introduced high-fashion and luxury lifestyle stores to Asia, via The Joyce Boutiques Group, and also crafted the image of Chanel in the Asia-Pacific region.
Despite being recognised as one of China's Top 100 Outstanding Women by the China Association of Women Entrepreneurs, Gokson maintains starting out was still the toughest challenge of her career.
"I had to leave my sister's business after umpteen years of the best training and protection from someone who's been a mentor, best friend, mother and everything to me," she says. "Being in business alone and spreading my own wings, I had to learn and understand that people in business have different agendas and, therefore, aligning business partners or silent partners were hard to come by."
Gokson's affluent and stylish upbringing is clearly a distinctive influence on her achievements.
"I've worked hard for my success and it has not been handed to me on a silver platter. Life's journey is interesting and all I can say is that I am grateful to all I have and will have," she says.
"Yes, there had been a few times when I was told 'women can't do that'. Well, guess what? They are wrong. Look at all these women who are leading countries and the biggest companies in the world."