HK Magazine Archive

Genie Juicery's Melanie Barnish: Leading Ladies

The co-founder of Hong Kong’s premier juicery talks about starting a business in a completely foreign place and how it compares to home.

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 May, 2016, 5:26pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 5:05pm

Melanie Barnish is the co-founder of Hong Kong’s premier juicery business: Genie Juicery. Together with her best friend and model Cara G. McIlroy, the Australian duo started their juicing business back in 2011. She talks about starting a business in a completely foreign place and how it compares to home.

“Starting a business with my best friend has been the best thing ever.”

I’m from Australia. I grew up in Gold Coast with a really healthy lifestyle, doing a lot of outdoorsy activities such as going on boat trips and spending time at the beach.

I studied fashion [there], and then after university I moved to Hong Kong to start my own brand of footwear and handbags.

I was working in Lai Chi Kok, where I had no access to healthy food except for Starbucks.

I was always travelling for work, and just like everyone else in Hong Kong, I was overworked and always tired.

Coming from Australia and knowing what it feels like to have real, fresh food every day and how that makes your body feel, compared to working like crazy and having terrible Starbucks lunches everyday made me stop and re-think my whole lifestyle.

My best friend Cara found herself in the same position. We both shared the same passion in a healthy lifestyle, so we started talking about plans to open a juice shop in Hong Kong.

Here in Hong Kong you have to pay a fortune for fresh, healthy food. And the choices are very limited.

Because we were going out and socializing a lot back then, and wanted to find a way to cleanse and detox. By the end of 2011, we started Genie Juicery.

Why our business works so well here is because people don’t have time. In Australia they would have the time to go to the markets, buy their spinach and apples and juice it themselves.

So many things have set me back over the past 5 years.

Patience is a big thing that I have learned moving here to Hong Kong. Working with a Chinese company with a totally different working culture, made me a lot more understanding.

I have been living in Hong Kong for 9 years now. I met my husband here and I got married, and now I’m pregnant with twins. I’m very lucky that I found myself in this position, doing what I love and what I’m passionate about.

I still hold on to that laid-back Aussie style in me despite moving into such a fast-paced city. I find that compensates the stressfulness and the uptightness. It doesn’t need to be like that.

Starting a business with my best friend has been the best thing ever.

If I had to pick one meal to eat for the rest of my life, it would be salad. I love a good veggie salad with spinach, nuts, beetroot and hummus.

I am not vegan. I’m a pescatarian. I never used to have dairy products but now that I’m pregnant I do have dairy. Before that I would only have nut products, like nut milks and nut yoghurts.

Sometimes, I go to sleep at around 8-9pm. People find that weird about me. That’s because I get up at around 5am in the morning. I like having quality time to myself, what I call my “Zen” time.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from starting my own business is how to treat people who work for you and keep them happy. It’s very important to us.