“I hope I have equipped my children to enjoy art – in all its forms – as informed onlookers”
Sharie Ross-Tse is the co-founder of Reviv Hong Kong.
What was it like growing up in Hong Kong? Was it a good place to be a child back then?
I was what I would call a product of the British Empire, but I had a great childhood. I was at Glenealy Junior School until P6M, followed by the Island School for a year. Despite the colonial overtones, it was a great time to be a kid.
I’m a Hong Kong girl through and through and my husband’s just as enamoured with the city as me. To our very cores, we’re steeped in the place. It’s just been such a big part of our life experience.
Our children were also born here and they’ve grown up understanding their Chinese heritage, while also appreciating just what an amazing place Hong Kong is in so many ways – efficiency, culture, food … They’re both at school in the UK now. That’s the same route that my husband and I took. We were very keen on them having the same experience.
At university, you majored in Political Science and Classical Studies. How did that come about?
I didn’t have as much foresight as some people when it came to choosing what to study. These, though, were subjects that interested me at the time. Classical Studies basically encompasses every aspect of a certain period of ancient history – drama, literature, astronomy, poetry … I loved them all. Political Science, meanwhile, appealed more to my contemporary interests. I was good at both subjects and knew I would pass them.
You’re co-founder and director of Reviv HK. What can you tell us about the company and what inspired you to get involved?
Essentially, we are a global wellness provider. We offer IV vitamin infusions and intramuscular booster shots. At present, we have 35 clinics and more than 150 service points around the world. More are opening all the time.
In Hong Kong, where everybody works at the speed of light and we’re all in a very hectic and toxic environment, it’s ideal as part of a health regime. People here aren’t just adversely affected by pollution, there’s also problems with regards to how little we sleep, how indulgent we are with our food and how often we travel. This leaves anyone liable to being run down, stressed or jetlagged. As sport, wellness and health have always played important roles in our family life, I was intrigued when I first came across the Reviv proposition.
At the beginning, I wasn’t 100 percent convinced. It all seemed such an alien concept to me. Then, while we were in the UK, I decided to give it a go. Initially, I had an intravenous wellness infusion, something we call a megaboost. It’s actually packed full of vitamins.
At the time, I think I was already coming down with the flu and I was also quite badly jetlagged. When I woke up the next day, though, I felt wholly energised and completely fatigue-free. A day or so later, I was still feeling pretty great. That was when I realised that there could be a huge market for this treatment in Hong Kong.
It’s very easy to administer. The IVs are all made up of water-soluble, all-natural vitamins. They are far more effective than oral supplements, which have to go through your whole digestive system before you get any benefit. The majority of the time you’re only absorbing about 20 percent of the vitamins via that particular route. With the IV, you potentially get to absorb 100 percent.
How has Reviv been received in Hong Kong? What has been the reaction from those not overly fond of needles?
The reception has been very positive. We’ve had lots of people trying it for a variety of reasons, including concerns over wellness or stress. We’ve also treated a number of athletes, some of whom came in with sore muscles or dehydration and wanted to get back to their optimum health as soon as possible.
We’ve also had clients come in with jetlag. Sometimes, they may have just arrived from New York that morning and need to fly on to Australia later the same day. Of course, some people are a little nervous about the needle, but they have the reassurance that we are a registered company with an affiliated doctor and qualified nurses on hand. Only properly qualified medical professionals are allowed to administer the IV.
Despite that, we still have a number of people who come in once or twice before they pluck up the courage to try it. In truth though, we are very adept at minimising the pain, so that most people don’t feel any discomfort at all.
“I think I am probably better equipped than a man when it comes to multi-tasking”
What do you attribute Reviv’s success to?
Well, it’s not an entirely new treatment. IV infusions have been commonplace in hospitals for decades, if not longer. It was originally introduced by a team of four emergency room doctors who were constantly seeing people coming in and needing treatments for colds, hangovers or allergies of some kind.
Looking to take the strain off the Emergency Room, they saw intravenous vitamin shots as a way of helping those with minor, non-chronic ailments. Now, of course, Reviv is a truly global concern, with clinics throughout the US, Europe, Africa and Australia. Often, clients book a session straight after a flight and some of the clinics now have a concierge service, allowing them to take the treatment directly to the client wherever they may be.
So how does a typical day pan out for Sharie Ross-Tse?
My husband and I are both very into sports and fitness, so we tend to get up quite early in the morning to exercise. On a typical day, I’ll be up at 7am, hopefully in time for my 8am spin class at XYZ, the fitness centre started by a friend of mine – Belinda Koo – three years ago. I’m a huge fan – it’s really given something very different to Hong Kong. Normally, I try to do one or two classes a day there.
After that, I usually pop into the clinic and meet up with Jenny Leung, my partner in the business. This gives us the chance to go over anything we need to discuss. At the same time, it also gives me the opportunity for a quick IV session if I am feeling a little jaded. The rest of my time is spent in meetings at the clinic and, once every two to three weeks, I’ll have a board meeting at the Hong Kong Ballet or the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation. The afternoon, then, is when I often get a call from my daughter in London or I might have another meeting across town. I am always trying to develop the business and looking to meet with potential partners.
You mentioned the Hong Kong Ballet and the Adventist Hospital Foundation. What is your involvement with those organisations?
I’ve been a ballet enthusiast for many, many years. Whenever and wherever I travel, I always try to take in a show. I am not sure, though, just how much the average audience member understands the hard work that goes into every performance. I don’t think they realise just how much time the ballerinas have to spend rehearsing and just how much every production costs to stage.
I’ve been involved with the Hong Kong Ballet on and off for 13 years now and it has been a really great experience for me.
When my children were about five and six, I got very involved with the Ballet Guild’s annual Nutcracker benefit, an event held at the Shangri-La Hotel every December. It’s a wonderful way of introducing young children to ballet, allowing them to be participants rather than just spectators – even if they’re not born ballerinas.
I hope I have nurtured in my children a true appreciation of the arts. I want them to understand how difficult it is to be a performer, while also equipping them to enjoy art – in all its forms – as informed onlookers.
As for the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation, I was asked to join the board about three years ago, and through the guidance of my friend Jo Soo Tang, the chairperson of the Foundation, we work on several initiatives a year designed to raise funds and provide medical assistance to children, the elderly, cancer patients and anyone else who could use a helping hand.
How do you manage to juggle all of your various responsibilities?
I am truly blessed in that I have the privilege of managing my own time. Not many people are able to do that in this day and age. A lot of people talk about how women can’t have everything – they can’t be good mothers, effective leaders and successful in business. They have to make a choice.
Now, in Hong Kong at least, there are a number of like-minded women – myself included – who are proving that, actually, you can have it all. It’s a challenge we’ve accepted. And we’ve made it work.
It helps that Hong Kong is an extremely efficient city. It’s small enough that you can get most places around the island within 20 minutes. We also have an excellent public transportation system which makes getting around for work very easy.
I also have a very active social life as we have many friends in Hong Kong. On top of that, I have a very supportive family and an excellent home network in terms of staff.
I am also lucky in that I have a great business partner, while my husband is extremely supportive of everything that I try – and hope – to do. Whenever I make a mistake, he’s always there to help – just as I am for him.
So, overall, is it difficult to juggle everything? Well, yes. As a woman, though, I think I am probably better equipped than a man when it comes to multi-tasking. I am not saying I manage everything perfectly, but I’ve made my choice and I do my best to fulfil every role required of me.