Sonalie Figueiras

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Green Queen Media, Hong Kong

If you think entrepreneurship is hard, try tripling it! Our next heroine runs not two, but three companies all at once: Green Queen (media), Ekowarehouse (a sourcing platform for certified organic products) and (the world’s first global, sustainable packaging marketplace). “Problems don’t scare me,” Sonalie Figueiras says, almost casually. “By nature, I do well in difficult, complex situations and can balance a lot of different balls in the air.” 

Born in Hong Kong to French and Indian parents, Sonalie grew up in a family of foodies. “I’d say I’m 90% vegan, but there is this odd time where I may consume eggs. It’s very difficult because my mother is an extraordinary cook (truly extraordinary!), and I grew up with her food, so I’ve already given up most of what she makes,” the media founder explains. “It’s wonderful how she’s worked really hard to adapt to me and make a lot more vegetarian and vegan foods, but baking is something she is really good at, so once in a while, I will have a bit of her cake.” 

“I decided to give myself permission to build a global impact media company.” 

Inspirations, go-to’s and lifehacks: 

  • Pandemic lifehack that helped you survive 2021: Nature! Being amongst trees, feeling sand in my toes, hearing waves crashing, listening to bird songs… that’s what heals me.
  • A person that inspires you: My mother. Life has thrown her some really awful stuff and yet she is so positive, so loving, so engaged with the world, so giving. I try to be as good a human as her but it’s still a work in progress. 
  • Last series/movie that kept you awake: Dopesick – a searing indictment of our obsession with profit over human health. Plus, Michael Keaton forever. 
  • Favorite book / A book everyone should read: That’s hard because reading is personal, so instead, my answer will be: Literature. Don’t limit yourself to self-help or business books. Escape into the magical word of great fiction writing. 
  • Latest podcast obsession: Pivot, with Prof. Scott Galloway and Kara Swisher. I discovered it a few months ago, and now I can’t miss it. Love their chats about tech, business, and politics.
  • App you find most valuable: The Guardian – I don’t go a day without reading their excellent, award-winning, independent journalism. 
  • Favorite food / favorite vegan treat: My husband’s homemade Neapolitan pizza. It’s the best thing in the world. He has a standalone pizza oven and everything. His dough is heaven on a plate. And his pesto? Oh my! We love Miyoko’s Mozzarella for the vegan cheese. 

As per what motivated her to start Green Queen Media (and the other companies), she believes she has a bit of a classic story: “I had health problems that no doctor properly diagnosed or understood. Medical misogyny is real. After years of pain and suffering, I went down my own research rabbit hole and figured out that what I was eating and how I was living was a huge part of the problem. The pollution, the toxins, the hormones, the antibiotics…this led me to understanding how broken our global food system is, and, well, the rest is history.”

A defining moment was realizing she actually had created a media company that was changing minds. “For a few years, I was putting myself down and thinking it was just a little blog. But then I had huge companies wanting to work with us, big events inviting me to speak, including two TEDx events and Harvard Business School, and readers writing to me to tell how much the Green Queen had changed their lives.” Founded back in 2011, her outlet is now Asia’s award-winning impact media platform advocating for social and environmental change. 

Follow Sonalie’s story

• Add Sonalie on LinkedIn

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Happy 10-year media-versary!

Green Queen started with no team and a few thousand visits a month back in late 2011 (yes, they just turned ten years old!). Today, it is a global team of 8 professionals and over 500,000 visits a month. “The biggest thing I am trying to do is inform, inspire, and empower (our Green Queen mission) our audience and readers to engage with the future of food/fashion/beauty/energy/everything. My hope is that we help people understand 1) what the problem is, 2) why they should care, 3) how they can help, and 4) who the role models are,” Sonalie adds. Apart from business building and advocating in the plant-based space, she is an advisor at The Remedy Project, which revolutionizes access to justice for migrant workers globally, a cause close to her heart. Apart from all that, Sonalie is an avid home cook and published cookbook author. 

Sonalie is one of the Food Heroes for 2022. See more inspiring and world-changing stories from Food Heroes here.