Ask any high-achieving student in Asia which career path their parents would like them to pursue and they’ll say one of the three: medicine, law or finance. Following a relatively safe path, Cheman Cheung spent his first five working years in banking – “to be honest, it was a job I dreamed of at university, but I simply couldn’t find the satisfaction I’d expected,” he says – before embarking on a solo trip around the world.
It was then he discovered his love for nature, surfing and music. After the unexpected death of his father, Cheung was spurred into a better, cleaner way of living. He eventually propelled this epiphany into founding his food and wellness concepts, nüte and benko.
What does an average workday look like for you?
I get up at 7am to go for a run or work out: it’s my way of de-stressing. My schedule
is fairly flexible on a normal day: client requests, copywriting for social media, monitoring operations at our Japanese deli benko, following up on my team’s task lists and meeting potential clients. In the evenings, I spend some time on admin before heading to bed.
What are you doing that’s different, and how do you hope to shake up the industry?
Everything in my life now revolves around my brands, but work really doesn’t feel like work most of the time as I have an incredible team. I hope through our example, individuals and companies become inspired to approach businesses more consciously.
Starting out, what was your biggest hurdle?
Being a perfectionist all my life, my biggest hurdle was the thought of potential failure. Now, my perspective has completely changed, and I don’t want to ever look back at my life regretting not pursuing what I want and believe in.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
A positive aspect is that everyone has fewer distractions and are naturally more focused on growing the company. For myself, without the opportunity to travel I’ve poured my heart and soul into the brands – I’ve only taken two or three days off in the past two years. But again, this is what I want to do every day, so it doesn’t feel suffocating to me at all. Whenever I’m drained, I’ll give myself more time to rest and recuperate, so I can come back stronger.