The co-founder of sustainable and hip homegrown sorbet brand Popaganda talks to Terry Ong about the highs and lows of life.

I was a terribly hyperactive child. I could not sit still. I still can’t sit still, fact.

My parents were solid, sensible, Chinese-educated Presbyterians. I am not sure why my sister and I turned out Anglo-centric and such left wing idealists.

How did I end up in the ice-cream business? I ask myself that a lot, especially when I wake up in a gutter every now and then.

In a nutshell, I am a bit of a bleeding heart and this business started out just that. Plus I have an insatiably sweet tooth and eat a lot of ice-cream and cakes.

I met my partner Edrick while farming and we wanted to start something that was sustainable, meaningful and community friendly. The searching took us many places and we decided to start with a food business where our first product line involved iced lollies that were healthy, packed to the gills with fresh fruit and also conveyed the essence of how we wanted to lead our life.

The business is active in charitable initiatives, we keep our waste to a minimum, recycle where possible and hire local people like retirees for our production work.

Before Popaganda, I was working at the university as a legal librarian. I had always wanted to be a librarian or a bus driver since I was eight.

But at some point in a legal librarian’s career, one has to complete their master’s degree and this also means being bonded to the institution. I wanted to be free so I went on to become a motoring journalist. I was quite into cars and bikes as a teenage girl. It was the best time of my life.

I got to jet set all over the world, test drive the latest cars, go kart race with Michael Schumacher and be exposed to all sorts of great experiences.

I’ve gone two weeks without showering in the Javanese forests, in an off-roading competition with 40 other men.

I’ve had quite a few madcap adventures in the most remote places. If I had to name one, I would say it involved being up in the mountainous and somewhat dangerous border between Burma and Thailand at a remote village rice farming. The tribe children who wanted to know about the world and soupy noodles were amazing.

It is always wise for everyone to venture abroad to get a perspective, then there is a chance for real comparison to where we are here.

Although it has been a pretty rough past two years for me as I had my heart broken and my health also took a dive at the same time. But I would like to say I was truly happy when I realized at one point as I was looking at the losses and lows I had to face, that I was extremely fortunate to have a very tight group of friends who stuck by me for years and constantly kept my nose clean.

I tell you what I can’t wrap my head around; this frenetic mania surrounding the Hello Kitty dolls from MacDonald’s. I don’t get why grown men will queue up for these things? Let alone fight and stamp their feet over them. There must be some voodoo joo-joo going on.

Soft fluffy puppy ears, strong arms, a sharp mind, a pure heart and good food turn me on. But not in that order.

I like to name my zits after men I admire and love.


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