Don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone is human and everyone makes mistakes. But as long as you are making the little steps towards a better future, that is a good thing. I sell reusable bags and encourage people to bring their own bag with them everywhere. Have I been in a situation where I have gone to the groceries and didn’t bring enough reusable bags? Yes. What about buying products that have plastic packaging all over them to put into my reusable bags? Yes. Small steps and applaud any sort of effort. As long as the small changes are happening, it gets easier and easier. So don’t beat yourself up on days you feel guilt.
As a part of my series about social media stars who are using their platform to make a significant social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Yumika Hoskin, a TV Host, Model, Actress and Eco Warrior based in Singapore, who created her brand ‘Peco Bag’, in an attempt to use her influence to battle the war against single use plastic.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I started modelling when I was about 15/16 years old and casually did it through school. I pursued it more seriously when I was 23 to join a reality modelling competition tv show called Supermodelme in Asia, which then steered me generally into the entertainment industry. I then fell into TV Hosting.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?
One memory that comes to mind is on an episode of the reality modelling tv show I filmed, one of the tasks they surprised us with was bungee jumping in Macau, Hong Kong. I don’t do rides. I don’t do roller coasters, anything that involves the “losing your stomach” feeling. The producer had even asked me prior, what activity I would never do, and I specifically said bungee jumping. So here I was in Macau, strapped into a harness mic’d up, asked to bungee jump and being told by producers, “It will show the audience and your fans you are leaping fearlessly from control and being open to the future.” I held my breath looked over the edge and .. no did not jump. I yelled “HELL NO” and scrambled through my brain on how to create a narrative on justifying why I didn’t jump. “Models are forced to wear fur on shoots when they want to say no. So here I am sticking up for my limits and saying NO.” .. This did not make the cut. However, it did teach me morals on not selling myself out for content and for what “the audience” wants.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
So I was presenting for the Premier League for the first year of tv hosting and although I did grow up around sports and my father and brothers influence of appreciating football, I am not knowledgeable with all the names. I was emceeing a screening of the UEFA champions league finale for ESPN, and I was feeling the pressure of sports fans and presenting live with a former Premier League player and seasoned sports host. We were screening live across digital platforms and in the midst of the chaos and the cuts and actions, I was asking a fan about his opinions on a veteran, world famous french player. Now when you are speaking a little fast, words can blurr and so it did… After my producer actioned “cut”. I walked off back to my resting area until one of the radio djs came running up to me in panic. He said I just mispronounced the players name to make it sound like I just called him “Buffoon”. Advice: don’t piss off a sports fan.
Ok super. Let’s now jump to the core focus of our interview. Can you describe to our readers how you are using your platform to make a significant social impact?
It’s an incredible thought to be “followed” by strangers and have people be interested in what you do. Instagram is such an incredible platform to share ideas, inspiration and growth. So sparking interest in your recommendations and capturing attention is not only a great responsibility but fantastic exposure. I started posting more and more about “eco” related content. And used my skills as a TV presenter to create my own digital travel show that promotes eco tourism and shows viewers how to travel responsibly. Soon after, I launched my own brand ‘Peco Bag’, a reusable, foldable bag made from recycled plastic bottles that can hold up to 10kgs. This product was produced in an effort to encourage people to say no to accepting single use plastic bags by making it convenient, stylish and functional to carry around everywhere. The hashtag of the brand is “Change a habit, change the world.”, which is what the brand is all about promoting. Encouraging everyone to change one small habit and that effort being effective enough to start changing the world. By already having a following, I had the advantage of the immediate exposure. Friends who I knew from the industry were quick to want to support and post about the bags and the initiative too. I feel like I have more purpose when I post now. I am posting about something I am passionate about and helps to curb pollution. When you have pride over content you post and you’re posting with purpose in mind, you’re onto something good.
Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by this cause?
I’m so happy to impact any individual. But the most heart warming and significant impacts I have had would be with my friends. All my friends were ready to support me, however after testing out my product, they were really surprised in realising it’s convenience and functionality. To a point where I had really changed their perspectives. They started to feel guilty like I did, everytime they forgot to bring a bag. They felt guilty everytime they were in a position holding a plastic bag and opted to stuff purchased items into their own backpacks or handbags. They started telling their friends about the Peco bags. They started posting stories every time they used the bags to buy groceries surprised about how much they could fit into them. They started sending me articles and tagging me on posts about countries banning single use plastic. They started tagging their friends. Started getting their relatives and friends the bags. The strongest marketing tool will always be word of mouth and when you combine that with a platform where everyone is free to express their thoughts and be connected to people all around the world with a single post, then you have yourself a power machine.In this case, all it was, was a bag that is convenient, created for a good cause and encourages people to change a habit and thus helping to save the world from single use plastic. That was the mission and that is why I created this business.
Was there a tipping point the made you decide to focus on this particular area? Can you share a story about that?
I knew I always wanted to own my own business. The idea of the brand ‘Peco Bag’, came to me when I was in a bit of a dark place and I really wanted to do something with purpose in my life. Something I am passionate about and that helps in a bigger picture. My tipping point was when I was at the supermarket and for the last time, I stared in utter confusion and anger on why my margarine was placed in an individual plastic bag from the rest of my groceries. Why my eggs needed their own plastic bag. Why the sealed liquids, needed to be double bagged. I walked out of the supermarket to get myself a freshly squeezed juice. THE JUICE… the sealed juice was given to me in a single use plastic carry bag. Why do we need a carry bag to carry a juice that will be gone in 3 minutes? I looked around me and everything that was being purchased was being handed out in plastic bags. Some which were just torn off and put in the trash 10 steps afterwards. It was a “this needs to stop” moment. From then on, it was me and a war against single use plastic.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- Individuals: Everyone needs to start changing one small habit. That can start as simple as saying no to single use plastic bags and opting to bring your own or just carry. As you carry on, the next step is looking for an alternative way to get products without the packaging. So head to a re-fill store. You are the consumer of the supply and the consumer controls the “want”.
- The companies: Reduce and dictate the supply. So many brands are changing their products to eco friendly options or implementing sustainable practices. Cutlery and straws at many restaurants are now “no plastic” or biodegradable options. Dictating the supply is a huge responsibility. So don’t rely on recycling and “out of sight out of mind” attitudes. Every single use plastic ever made still exists. Do not supply your customers plastic.
- Politicians: Ban single use plastic state-wide and nationally. As lawmakers, governments hold the power and the responsibility to influence everyone the most effectively.
What specific strategies have you been using to promote and advance this cause? Can you recommend any good tips for people who want to follow your lead and use their social platform for a social good?
Well firstly test it by influencing your friends first and get them on board so you can start to build a loyal community. Then connect with other like minded individuals who also want to promote the same cause. I found starting conversations and collaborating was easier when it’s to promote something with purpose and substance. Many brands and companies are looking for ways to collaborate and join a sustainability movement. So show initiative and reach out via email and see if they want to collaborate. That way, you get instant access to their customer base. I joined a few women’s social enterprise start up support groups which I found was effective as everyone wants to support start ups. Find new ways to market your message. For example, Peco Bag is voiced in a cheeky language for all its captions, write ups and website text, making “being eco” more fun and sexy rather than another “the world is dying” portrayal.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Disregard the change in likes. When you change your “image” you built on social media, people might not know how to react to the change in content. So when I did this, my likes and follows plummeted. From sexy bikini photos to posing in lush greenery talking about a no waste toothpaste will confuse some people. You may also get questions as to whether it is authentic. But stick to it. If they want to unfollow you, great. Build the audience you really want to connect with.
- You don’t need to change your look, you’re just changing your lifestyle choices. I definitely wondered if I should dress more minimal to match my changes in consumption. Did I need to start dressing more like a hippy? It’s 2019, sustainability is sexy and doesn’t have a defined look anymore. So do you. Just live more consciously.
- Practice what you preach. Social media gets more and more blurred with authenticity. What you might have thought was “goals” in reality might not have been or is inherently staged. Authenticity is so important and what helps followers connect with you and make you relatable. If you’re influencing a cause, you are teaching your followers.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone is human and everyone makes mistakes. But as long as you are making the little steps towards a better future, that is a good thing. I sell reusable bags and encourage people to bring their own bag with them everywhere. Have I been in a situation where I have gone to the groceries and didn’t bring enough reusable bags? Yes. What about buying products that have plastic packaging all over them to put into my reusable bags? Yes. Small steps and applaud any sort of effort. As long as the small changes are happening, it gets easier and easier. So don’t beat yourself up on days you feel guilt.
- Your friends become your best friends. Not only will the friends who love you support you and your cause, they may also have means to help you. Some may have businesses that have a huge customer database. If they haven’t already offered, ask them. Even being included in one of their newsletters is free and efficient marketing. Take all the support you can get.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Well I want to help save the world from drowning in plastic of course. So if I can influence everyone to always have a reusable bag on them then I would be pretty happy.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You are your own hero” is a quote I made up.. Well it probably already exists out there.. I’m going to avoid googling that and stick to staying in the dark and believing I made it up. Either way, it is a quote that I not only truly believe in and practice but also the standing advice I give anyone who I come across that needs to hear it. I believe only you can truly save you and protect you. You are the person that knows you best and has the power to unleash your full potential. You will always be there for you so treasure yourself and start loving who you are.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
The one person who I would be star struck by and lost for words with would be Sir David Attenborough. He truly is my childhood influence and my inspiration as an adult today. I have watched and rewatched all his documentaries and he truly is the man who made me stay curious about the world. Curious about animals, eco systems, EARTH. If I could meet him once in my life, I would feel complete.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow my personal page on Instagram at @yumikahoskin and follow my brand @pecobag
Thank you for join us!