Elitsa was born in Bulgaria, but moved to the US when she was 20 to attend college in Connecticut. She stayed in the US for seven years, married, and had a daughter. She absolutely loved the US and felt very much at home, having grown to respect and love the free spirit, optimism and idealism of Americans. However, she still felt very much like a minority, because of her accent, and because of her ex-husband’s ivy-league educated family and friends. Elitsa is now living in the UK and runs her own business that offers services that enhance dentists’ performance by helping them find their best placement within health systems, countries and practices.
“So far I have learned that am very good at leading through example. I ask the right questions to motivate people to give the right answers. I am quite creative, but I don’t have enough knowledge and skills to make my blogs optimized for search engines and professional looking.”
Seena arrived in California in 2001, following her traditional arranged marriage in Bangalore, India at the age of 24. The move to the US, where her husband was studying, was her first time living outside India where she was born and raised. Just a short decade later Seena had not only started her family in the US she had also started Neeliyam, a company which grew out of her love of her home country and the food that she had grown up with.
“In India there is still a tendency for people to be more set in their ways whereas in the US, no matter how old you are it is never too late to start something new. India is still very male dominated culturally and in order to set up a business there I feel I would have needed male family support to make introductions and to help make things happen in a business culture that still relies on bribes to move things along.”
Sharon’s entrepreneurial journey started on a hum drum day in the UK, her original home country, when she met a Dutch man who changed the course of her life forever. Not only does she work in a corporate job abroad, she is one of the two founding members of a prominent Amsterdam business group, a group that supports small and local businesses and helps them become thriving success stories. The Amsterdam Small Business Network (ASBN) is the brain child of Sharon and her business partner and the second founding member of the group, Marjolijn.
“ASBN is a community space for Amsterdammers and beyond. We strive to create a bi-lingual space where we can all support local purchasing, strengthen community ties and expose a wider audience to the wonderful talent that Amsterdam and its surrounding areas hold. I am just one part of who makes up ASBN; I support the English speaking community and Marjolijn the Dutch. Together we are the founders of ASBN. We achieve the above by providing business related lectures, social networking events, arranging pop-up shops and matching businesses together who in turn go on to form collaborations. We believe that working together is better than working alone.”
These three entrepreneurs have now hit their stride and not only Beijing but the world is literally their oyster as they consider branching out and expanding with their successful non formulaic formula which can be summed up in one word – authentic. Not only are each of them authentic individuals but they bring the authentic experience to all who visit. If only there was a Hutong in every country to spread cultural understanding and respect for what is human and unique about each country.
May we all have cultural experiences as rich as the ones that they create everyday at The Hutong.
“Our strongest work ethic is to treat all people with respect and to always strive to provide an exceptional experience. I guess the big thing in China is to never take anything for granted, for example, just because you sign a contract does not mean it will be honoured. In a way you sort of expect things to go wrong and then you find a way around it and learn how to deal with it.”