To celebrate International Women’s Day, we are championing a couple of the talented and inspiring women that we are privileged to collaborate with at Bear & Bear.
Introducing, Gloria Hwang, CEO of Thousand, a businesswomen driven by the need to inspire change. After tragically losing a friend in a bicycle accident, she decided to redesign the life-saving accessory.
She emptied her savings, embarked on a year of research and travel to create Thousand whilst holding down a full-time job. She has successfully and thoughtfully redesigned the traditional bicycle helmet into something that cyclists will actually want to wear.
Thousand are co-members of 1% For The Planet and donate 1% of their annual revenue to support environmental restoration and educational projects. Her attitude to challenge the status quo for the common good is truly inspirational. Read on for her full interview.
What was the inspiration that made you decide to throw in your job and start something up yourself? Did you take the jump in one leap, or start the process whilst you were still employed?
Before Thousand was an idea, I was a long-time cyclist – a cyclist, I might add, who didn’t wear a helmet. I honestly thought they were too bulky, too “sci-fi”, too hard to lug around. My thinking on that changed the day a friend of mine got into a fatal bike accident. I knew I needed to make a change, but in my search for the right helmet, I kept asking myself “Man… why isn’t there something on the market I can’t wait to wear?”. I became obsessed with the idea of building a helmet I loved, and extending that to other people. It took a year of research, travel,and emptying my savings account, to start Thousand. All while I had a full time job.
What advice would you have for would-be entrepreneurs looking to take the jump and set up their own business?
To have develop a combination of grit, discipline, and humility. If you can develop those qualities (or already have them), i’d say you’re 90% head of the game.
Have there been any painful lessons along way that could have been easily avoided?
Absolutely. For me, it was to trust myself. The funny thing about entrepreneurship, is that the hardest part isn’t even the numbers, the network or the strategy. It’s really about learning to trust your mission and vision, and stay focused when there are so many competing priories and voices.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“If it’s not a hell yeah, it’s a no.”
Is there a highlight in your journey with Thousand so far that has really made you realise how much you’ve achieved?
Defintely, we get messages from people all of the world who tell us our helmet saved their life in a bad crash. Or they started cycling more now because they feel safe. For me, knowing we’re fulfilling our mission, has made it all worth it.
And finally, which female leader or personality inspires you?
Jacqueline Novogratz. She’s the founder of Acumen Fund. It’s a great organization that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of poverty.
See the full range of Thousand bicycle helmets on Bear & Bear: