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When it comes to making positive impact locally, Jo Soo-Tang is a force. Along with being an Advisory Board Member and Strategic Advisor of Food Made Good Hong Kong, Jo was involved with the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation for more than 35 years, and was an active member of NGOs including Splash Foundation.



The most recent addition to her important work is co-founding social enterprise Cookie Smiles in 2020, with the two-fold purpose of supporting charities through fundraising (and cookies!) while offering training and job opportunities for the disadvantaged.


Jo Soo-Tang is a co-founder of Cookie Smiles and the strategic advisor of Food Made Good Hong Kong. Image by Lightseed Studio

Here, The Style Sheet meets with Jo at The Continental Hong Kong to find out more about Cookie Smiles, and what the spirit of the festive season means to her.

The Style Sheet: What brought you and Agnes Chin together to launch Cookie Smiles last year?

Jo Soo-Tang: Around fifteen years ago, I contacted Agnes’s company Complete Deelite for a quotation for charity cookies and I was put in touch directly with Agnes. We’ve kept in touch since then and have come full circle in our social enterprise and with cookies. I think COVID gave Agnes the time needed to really plant this idea, and she just shared it with me, and because of my background in charity work, one thing led to the other and it just happened.

Established in 2020, Cookie Smiles supports the disadvantaged through employment and training, as well as various fundraising campaigns. Image by Marion Wootton

Why cookies?

I love old-school traditions and simplicity. I mean, who doesn’t eat cookies? And they’re great all year round, with endless varieties in-terms of shapes and flavours. It also reminds me of my childhood in Sydney, when I had to sell cookies for school events or girl scouts.

Which causes does Cookie Smiles support?

We’ve already donated $100,000 to Splash Foundation and the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association. For our Woof Twisters, we chose the SPCA as they were one of the very first charities I volunteered for in my twenties, and I helped them launch their Mongrel programme at the time. This year, we’re supporting ImpactHK, Jeff Rotmeyer’s work is a necessity in our city. Our beneficiaries for 2022 include Box of Hope, Adventist Medical Center and the SPCA, as well as our long-term government partner, the Vocational Training Council’s Shine Skills Centre.

Tell us more about Cookie Smiles’ baker apprenticeship programme. How does it create employment opportunities, and who for?

We work directly with Shine Skills Centre to recruit interns or graduates from them, we train them for six months to a year in a baking kitchen environment and then help them find jobs within the F&B sector. About seven hundred students with special needs graduate from Shine every year, and in 2022 we’ll help them with placements into hotels and help them to expand their network and reach.

Jo and co-founder Agnes Chin had worked together in the past. ‘COVID gave Agnes the time needed to really plant this idea,’ she says. Images by Lightseed Studio

Your passions are eating and cooking! Do you have any favourite restaurants in our neighbourhood?

I really do love eating and cooking. When it comes to eating, it’s definitely Salisterra and the Island Shangri-La’s Petrus — the chefs at both hotels are extremely talented and passionate. They’re also very giving of their time to the community, and The Upper House has a very similar training programme to ours, so we feel very blessed to have Swire’s support.

You’re a mother of three. How will you be celebrating the holiday season with your family this December?

My children and I lead a quiet and simple life, but we do enjoy our time at home immensely. My eldest will probably spend a lot of her time taking photographs and supporting me at my pop-ups, the younger two will be at a whole bunch of playdates and we’ll do some candle or soap making workshops. We’re also planning on visiting Santa’s Lodge here at Pacific Place and finishing our Christmas shopping. On my list are MUJI, Kelly & Walsh, Great Food Hall, JOYCE and Lane Crawford.

What does the spirit of the holiday season mean to you? 

The holiday season is a time for family bonding, renewing friendships, exchanging gifts and feeling grateful for all those relationships. It’s a time to celebrate, and a time to give back to the local community and reflect on what’s truly important in life, showing gratitude and compassion. It’s also a time to bring a message of peace and hope, and of course a time for us to spread Cookie Smiles!

Cookie Smiles’ cookies are handcrafted with the finest ingredients and available for delivery across Hong Kong. Images by Marion Wootton