When Atlanta’s Julie Salisbury started her public relations firm in the late 1980s, she was one of the only female entrepreneurs in what was then a male-dominated field.

Since then, says the founder of The Bee Colony, things have changed rapidly in Atlanta. The number of women running their own media-related firms has steadily increased.

Atlanta has a total of 202,900 women-owned firms, according to a report published by American Express OPEN in 2015. That makes it the country’s seventh largest metropolitan area in terms of female-run businesses.

“There’s a spirit of ‘you can do this’ among women entrepreneurs,” Salisbury says. “There’s a sense among the community that we’re here to lift each other up.”

Take one of Salisbury’s personal heroes, Sara Blakely. Four years ago the founder of the Atlanta-based company Spanx was named the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how Sara Blakely’s story will unfold,” says Salisbury. “She started a foundation that’s designed to channel her business success and give back to female entrepreneurs.”

Blakely has continued to give back to women. The Sara Blakely Foundation provides entrepreneurial grants and educational training to young women globally in places like South Africa.

Opportunities for women starting their own businesses are popping up all over the place. Take Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, for example. The incubator program offers rent-free office space, among other perks, for a number of female entrepreneurs starting new companies.

Atlanta Women-Owned Businesses 3Funding opportunities for women entrepreneurs are increasing as well. One of the largest local organizations is the Atlanta Women’s Foundation. The foundation has invested more than $13 million in nonprofits that provide women of all ages with the resources to be self-sufficient.

New on the scene is Valor Ventures. Backed by entrepreneur David Cummings, the firm is investing in female-led companies starting out in the consumer tech and health care tech industries. Valor is expected to raise at least $20 million this year.

When it comes to providing training for women business owners in Atlanta, Bernie Dixon is your woman. Four years ago, she founded a women entrepreneurship program called LaunchPad2X (the name refers to the two X chromosomes women carry).

“We focus on how a successful CEO can manage through some very difficult business situations,” says Dixon. “In the end, that builds confidence in a big way.”

The impact of LaunchPad2X has been substantial. The 75 women-led companies that have graduated from the program have contributed more than $100 million to Atlanta’s economy.

Anna Ruth Williams, founder of tech PR firm AR|PR, enrolled in LaunchPad2X in 2013 because there were areas where she felt she needed more guidance. Since then, she’s continued to take LaunchPad2X ‘s monthly alumni courses because she doesn’t want to be complacent about her level of knowledge of the startup world.

Williams says now that AR|PR has proven itself by doubling its business year-over-year, she wants to take advantage of Atlanta’s strong corporate sector.

“There’s an abundance of corporate innovation in the market that can enable my agency to move more upstream,” Williams says.

There are plenty of other ways for women working in early-stage companies to connect. Startup Chicks helps women entrepreneurs, especially those in tech-related startups, to meet up with each other.

Startup Chicks founder Jennifer Bonnett says that half of the women who attend the monthly meetings are minorities. The average age is 40, although the women she personally coaches tends to be in their late 20s to early 30s.

“The main issue I see and still see with women entrepreneurs is that they’re scared to get big,” Bonnett says. “One woman had a very successful business approaching $1 million in revenue. But she had zero employees and she was doing everything herself.”

Bonnett says the woman thought, “no one could do it the way she could.” Her fears were confirmed, she assumed, when her search for a chief operating officer didn’t go well.

“Really what happened was a bad hire,” Bonnett says. “I helped her put processes in place to prevent bad hires, and now she’s got a $10 million business with seven employees.”

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Nick Lim understands firsthand the life-changing power of a pair of pants.

Growing up in a humble household in Singapore, Lim loved singing but was unable to participate in school concerts because he didn’t have the right clothes. When he was 10 years old, his choir teacher asked him to meet her after school. They visited a shop where she purchased him a pair of slacks and a crisp white shirt.

Recalling that moment more than three decades later, Lim says his teacher’s generosity “allowed me to express myself onstage and develop self-respect.” It was occasional moments like this throughout his life, he says, that restored his faith in humanity.

“When you grow up poor in a dysfunctional family, you think the world is cruel,” he says. “You grow up thinking, ‘Why is the world so unfair?’ Every once in a while someone helped me though they had no obligation to, and that made me look at the world with a different perspective.”

Lim says those acts of kindness helped him stay on track at school and succeed as an investment banker. But as he excelled in his career, he began to question his life’s value.

WeWork Shanghai
At the Shanghai Creator Awards, Nick Lim accepts his prize from WeWork founder Adam Neumann.

“At the end of the day, we only live once,” he says. “What am I put on this world for? Definitely not to make as much money as possible.”

Five years ago he started baosquared, an organization that collects used clothing and other items and sends it to needy children in rural China. It also partners with brands like Vans to make sure their surplus merchandise doesn’t go into incinerators or landfills. So far it has helped 4,596 children.

“If people could help me the way they did and push me in the right direction,” he asks, “why couldn’t I do it for someone else?”

 The organization takes care to distribute only clothing that is not torn, stained, or otherwise damaged.

“You don’t want to give children something that makes them feel devalued,” he says. “If you give them something nice, it makes them feel loved. Checking a piece of clothing takes an extra 20 seconds, but makes a huge difference. If they grow up to be kind, generous, and loving, then we have a better chance.”

The same person who wore his first formal suit to perform with his school choir took the stage in front of hundreds of people at the Shanghai Creator Awards to receive the WeWork Community Giver award. The event celebrates and provides funding to innovators and entrepreneurs who are making an impact on their communities.

“It’s great to know there is an organization out there like WeWork looking for guys like us and shows its appreciation to little guys doing what we’re doing,” he says.

Lim feels that he’s helping to change the world one child at a time.

“When I visit the children, they try to show their appreciation,” Lim says. “I say to them: ‘What I would like you to do instead of thanking me is to someday when you are in the position to help someone, pay it forward.’”

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Kate Wang’s daughter Tingting loves to sing, socialize, and meet new friends. She also loves makeup, often taking herself to the hair or nail salon. She is like any other 25-year-old girl living in Nanning City in Guangxi, in southern China — except that when Tingting goes out, she does so by electric wheelchair.

Tingting was born with cerebral palsy, a muscle disorder that in China is considered an illness, rather than a disability. Wang struggled to find appropriate long-term resources and support networks for her daughter.

“People think of children as angels,” said Wang, “but when they see a disabled child or a family with a disabled child, they think of it as a burden or even a disaster.”

When Tingting was rejected by local public schools, Wang and her husband, Lvijiang Li, started AngelHouse, which provides housing, physical training, education, and counseling for around 90 children and young adults with cerebral palsy.

“I want to tell everyone that children with disabilities are still angels,” Wang said.

When it was started in 2002, the nonprofit encountered a host of unexpected challenges. As disabled children are sometimes considered bad luck in China, neighbors petitioned to evict AngelHouse from one of its locations. They’ve had to move five times in the last 16 years.

AngelHouse founder Kate Wang: “I want to tell everyone that children with disabilities are still angels.”

Relying on her family for childcare, Wang tried to balance the nonprofit and her work as a TV reporter. She was left with no time for herself or her daughter. “I was not only very tired,” she said, “but also very conflicted.”

But this period didn’t last long. “I was sure my daughter needed this, and others like her needed it,” Wang said. “Without AngelHouse, they didn’t have a future.”

When Wang swept both the Nonprofit and the Audience Choice awards at WeWork’s Shanghai Creator Awards, it was the culmination of her hard work over the past 16 years. “When I looked down at those two awards in my hands, so many images came to mind — the work of so many years, the faces of our AngelHouse children,” she said.

Winning the Audience Choice Award was particularly momentous. “That one felt amazing,” Wang said. “And it was such a surprise.”

AngelHouse started as a means for Wang and Li to do good for those in need. But today, after having helped thousands of children and families, Li says that she herself has been the ultimate beneficiary. “I can’t say that I’ve helped them,” she said. “It’s more accurate to say that they’ve helped me.”

Just after winning, Wang talked to her daughter and received yet another gift. Tingting exclaimed, “Thank you, Mom! Your efforts keep reenergizing us, and you always keep reenergizing me.”

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The inaugural Shanghai Creator Awards took place in a massive former aircraft factory transformed into an art exhibition space, the West Bund Art Center. The entire area along Shanghai’s southern waterfront was developed seemingly overnight five years ago as part of the city’s ambitious plans to kick-start its arts scene onto the global stage.

WeWork, a network offering space, community, and physical and virtual services that currently has physical locations in 21 countries, was introduced to China less than two years ago but aims to move in a similarly explosive and transformative way. The scale and energy of the company’s signature event, the Creator Awards –– which celebrates entrepreneurs, nonprofits, community leaders, and performing artists –– was testament to the likewise outsized dreams, plans, and successes of the featured entrepreneurs from China, as well as to WeWork’s unprecedented growth in the country. It was a night that celebrated, as Shanghai itself often manifests, the glimmering vision of the future.

Here are the biggest, best, most touching, and most awkward moments of the night.

Best swag: Original T-shirts emblazoned with the night’s logo “Created in China,” available from a live screen-printing station run by Shanghai’s IB Print Club. Created in China and right in front of your eyes (drying made more expeditious via a hand-held hair dryer.)

Tiniest item for sale at the pop-up market: Jelly, billed as the world’s smallest smartphone –– about as compact as a deck of cards.

Best reason to freshen up your LinkedIn profile: A crowd lined up for free professional headshots offered by WeWork’s photography team at the job fair, best selves delivered to inboxes that very night.

Members of the Yuedong Jumprope troupe amazed the audience.

Dream job for Netflix bingers at the job fair: Writer for Pink Koala, a feature film screenwriting company.

Dream jobs for the fashionista at the job fair: Farfetch, Lululemon, Yoox Net-a-Porter, NuSkin Beauty, and Coty were marketing dozens of positions.

Most relaxed: Lululemon, the global athletic wear company that houses offices in Shanghai’s WeWork Weihai Lu, set up a dome in the far corner where visitors were invited to try out meditative VR programs.

Highest torque: William Li, founder, chairman, and CEO of NIO Car, which produces premium electric and autonomous vehicles as well as sports cars. In a master class on mobility, Li, the oft-monikered “Elon Musk of China,” said that mobility was a matter of space, speed, and time. “Cars have thus far given people access to more space more quickly, and the next transformation in transportation would give back to people the time and freedom to do what they want to do [instead of driving].” Li also pointed out that taxi drivers are facing stiff competition with new ride sharing apps, as many drivers are illegally sharing licenses. “Don’t do illegal things in the name of ‘sharing’ or ‘doing social good,’” he urged.

Best selfie: Taken in the middle of the selfie-hungry crowd by Li and NIU Technologies founder Token Hu. In the photo are the smiling faces that master class moderator Chen Yao of IDEO called “the godfather and the genius” of China’s startup scene.

WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann (right) walked onto the main stage to kick off the night with “Shalom Shanghai!”

Biggest gauntlet thrown: WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann walked onto the main stage to kick off the night with “Shalom Shanghai!” After announcing in passing the news about WeWork’s acquisition of Chinese-based community-based shared workspace and lifestyle brand naked Hub, he issued a challenge: “I’ve got a message to every global company on the earth: If you’re not in China, you don’t exist.”

Most tear-inducing scene: AngelHouse’s founder Kate Wang, who started a nonprofit that provides housing, education, and care for children with cerebral palsy, brought the audience to tears when she introduced the reason for her project: her daughter, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and couldn’t find entry into normal public schools in Guangxi. “Because this wouldn’t have happened without her, I can also say that my daughter is a creator,” she said.

Most awkward comment from a judge: “You look like a teenager,” Mary Ma, CEO of fashion company Maryma Haute Couture, said about the youthful appearance of 33-year-old Nonprofit finalist Jie Xiao, founder of E.G.G. Walkathon.

Most acrobatic: Performing arts winner Yuedong Jumprope gave an athletic performance of jump rope tricks, flips, and moves set to dance music. The crowd let out a collective gasp and then a cheer when two members grabbed another by the arms and legs, swinging her around like a human jump rope.

Toughest grilling: Business Venture finalist Jiliang Ma of Extant Future, which produces the Modoo fetus monitoring device, was peppered with questions from the two female judges –– and mothers –– Angela Dong, GM and VP of Nike Greater China, and Mary Ma.

Kate Wang of AngelHouse swept up both the Nonprofit as well as the Audience Choice awards.

Biggest winners: Ma’s Modoo took home the Business Venture award, and Kate Wang of AngelHouse swept up both the Nonprofit as well as the Audience Choice awards. Wang, who previously told WeWork that she felt she had been “preparing for this moment for 16 years,” was overcome with emotion at the unexpected windfall, throwing her fist into the air in a jubilant gesture.

Catchiest catchphrase: “Created in China” was the big slogan of the night, plastered in oversized letters on the walls as guests arrived, projected onto the screen in the auditorium, and live screen-printed on swag. To those who say China lacks creativity, the night served as an in-your-face challenge to the hackneyed label.

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On the eve of the first Creator Awards in Shanghai, WeWork talked with the finalists in each category about their work, their plans should they win, and what being a creator means to them. For some, creation necessitates social impact; for others, it means forging a new path in life. For all, however, creation has been a matter of hard work and dedicated passion.

Category: Business Venture

Turning Surfaces into a Canvas for the Imagination

Justin Cheng of Hipaint: ‘I think I should thank my daughter’

Company: Hipaint
Founded by: Justin Cheng, 33
Founded in: 2014
Where: Shanghai
Number of employees: 40

Mission: Our mission is to be the generator of new ideas for mankind.

What is Hipaint? Our main product is a paint that turns surfaces into whiteboards. Unlike a board, Hipaint is limitless, with no boundaries. We also sell board accessories, markers, etc. And we’ve been adding paints with additional functions, [like] magnetic paint [and] projector paint.

Why did you start the company? I remember when my daughter was around two (she is now six). She just grabbed a marker and drew on the wall. Other parents may have stopped her. But when I saw that, I joined. We drew giant monsters, jumped around, [and] had a great time. I thought, paper fills up so quickly. An entire wall can hold a totally new world for kids. Back then, I was working in one of the largest paint companies in Britain. Shortly thereafter, when I met a doctorate from Oxford, we started Hipaint. I think I should thank my daughter.

How many customers have you served? Currently we have 1,000-plus office customers (including Apple, Tencent, and Alibaba), 100-plus school customers, and about 10,000 individual users. In 2017 our sales revenue was about 12 million rmb. We have passed our break-even point.

What does the word “creator” mean to you? When I worked in a Fortune 400 company I had a good life, [a] good salary. But I was not creating things, just following the path where I could clearly see the future. The thing I’m doing now, it’s totally new. I’ve created something that never existed. From zero to one. I just want to create something different that can make people’s lives better.

What are you doing to get ready for the Creator Awards? I’m wondering what the event will be like.

What will you do with the money if you win? There are many children in faraway villages, in the mountains in China. I visited their schools; they are in a terrible situation. Our paint is small, and cheaper and easier to transport than boards. Though we are a startup, we want to do something for society, to help kids in poor regions get better education. If we have this money, we will donate whiteboard paint to 100-200 schools in poor regions without any charge.

Tracking a Baby’s Heartbeat from Your Couch

Jiliang Ma of ExtantFuture: ‘A creator is a problem solver’

Company: ExtantFuture, which produces the Modoo fetus monitoring device
Founded by: Jiliang Ma, 29; William Zhou, 46; Rambo Du, 31; and Nicky Shi, 34
Founded in: 2015
Where: Beijing
Number of employees: 30-plus

Mission: We want to create a consumer health product for mothers who want to know their baby more. Also, we want to create a closed circle with medical service within our app to reduce anxiety and frequent travel to the hospital. Finally, as we collect data, we want to gather the world’s largest dataset about the developing baby, which may present a massive opportunity for AI technology to predict more issues and save more lives.

What is the Modoo? Modoo is a wearable device that can stick on a pregnant mother’s belly to track heartbeats and kicks in the comfort of the home.

Why did you create it? When I started this company, I hadn’t even married. A lot of people laughed at me. But in 2014, a lot of friends and classmates started to get married and pregnant. I discovered that if you get pregnant, you receive hospital check-ups just once a month. That’s not enough, both from the consumer and medical side[s].

How many customers have you served? We have sold more than 15,000 units in 12 months, with a 12 to 15 percent monthly increase rate.

What does the word “creator” mean to you? A creator is a problem solver who uses developing tech or a smart business model to solve the problem. A qualified creator is also a businessman. A creator should spread the service/tech to as many people as possible.

What are you doing to get ready for the Creator Awards? Actually, not too much. I was busy negotiating some business in Shanghai and doing clinical trials in the hospital.

What will you do with the money if you win? We are applying for the CFDA [China Food and Drug Administration] and FDA; these certificates have really high barriers and are expensive. We need to have a professional team, make our platform better, hire more physicians, etc.

Genetic Testing Makes Individualized Skin Care a Reality

Le Duc of Uniskin: ‘We want to see what is beneath the surface’

Company: Shanghai Inertia Biotechnology, which produces Uniskin
Founded by: Le Duc, 30
Founded in: 2017
Where: Shanghai
Number of employees: 34

Mission: We want to help skincare customers understand the uniqueness of their individual skin and how each skin should be treated differently.

What is Uniskin? Skin genetic testing in the form of a kit that customers use at home. It includes a swab for saliva and a couple skin patches. Then we offer a series of skincare product lines based on analysis results.

Why did you start the company? I used to be a resident physician in the U.S. and noticed genetic testing and tech was increasing dramatically. Testing is getting more affordable. I wanted to bring it into real life. We picked skin care because that is one thing we deal with every day.

Furthermore, the capability of a doctor is not complete. Sometimes recovery is out of our hands; life is so complex. Technology like genetic testing can help us uncover more information that gives us more control than we previously had. Hopefully we plan to use our genetic data to expand to other areas of medical and clinical use.

How many customers have you served? We’ve served over 2,000 people. Our revenue so far is 2 million rmb received; 5 million rmb in accounts receivable by mid-year.

What does the word “creator” mean to you? A creator must do something innovative, something people haven’t seen before. It then has to be beneficial to a scalable target. If you create something but it cannot be used by people, it’s not creation or innovation.

What are you doing to get ready for the Creator Awards? I’ll just try to relax. Get good sleep. Run the company as usual.

What will you do with the money if you win? Probably we will put most of the money into research and development. We need more analysis people, and we’ll trying to build a new lab to process more samples, more data.

Category: Nonprofit

Helping Children with Cerebral Palsy Integrate into Society

Kate Wang of AngelHouse: ‘I have been preparing for this moment for 16 years’

Nonprofit: AngelHouse
Founded by: Kate Wang, 50, and Lvjiang Li, 57
Founded in: 2002
Where: Nanning, Guangxi
Number of employees: 44

Mission: Angel House is a charity organization that helps individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) integrate into society.

What does AngelHouse do? We provide children with CP housing and rehabilitation, academic courses, [and] opportunities to attend normal school, as well as social adaptation activities, such as visits to the supermarket. Additionally, we provide training and counseling for families and partner organizations in the CP network (currently AngelHouse has 55 partner organizations throughout China).

Why did you start the organization? I have twin daughters, and one of them has CP. Most schools don’t adapt for these kinds of children, and she was not accepted by normal schools.

I am solving a problem with two sides. One is awareness from society: People consider this group to be an in-patient group. But actually, CP cannot be solved simply [with] medical treatment. Secondly, those with CP don’t have their own disability association and representation.

How many people have you served? [On] any given day, we serve about 90 kids.

What does the word “creator” mean to you? A creator is one who can impact and improve history, and in this way, create history.

What are you doing to get ready for the Creator Awards? We are diligently preparing. It feels like I have been preparing for this moment for 16 years.

What will you do with the money if you win? We want to bolster our support system of physical training, education, and social work. Also, we want to support 80 children with CP for one year with full tuition scholarships.

Second-hand Items Fuel Work Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Shujie Jiang of Buy 42: ‘I want to leave something beautiful in the world’

Nonprofit: Buy 42 Charity Store
Founded by: Shujie Jiang, 31
Founded in: 2010
Where: Shanghai
Number of employees: 20 full time, 100-plus involved in various degrees

Mission: Our mission is to have a charity store in every community. Our vision is to change people’s attitude toward used items and recycling, as well as toward disabled people.

What is Buy 42 Charity Store? We started offline stores because the experience is better than an online store. Customers can see disabled people working in our store [and] can touch the products. Sometimes they can dig through the merchandise and discover a hidden treasure.

Why did you start the organization? We encourage people to donate idle resources, as well as corporations to donate samples and overstock to us, which they would abandon anyway. We also resell gently used items: books, wheelchair, toys, etc. As we generate revenue, we use it to support people with disabilities to work. We use idle products and idle human resources to build up our sustainable business.

How many people have you served? We have eight stores in operation [and] nine stores [under] construction. Our biggest store on Jiangning lu has 150-200 customers everyday. Every month our cash flow is more than 200,000rmb.

What does the word “creator” mean to you? For me, a creator has more responsibility on her shoulders, social responsibility. We live only 80-90 years; we’re nothing in this universe. A creator can leave something in the world; I want to leave something beautiful in the world, for my daughter and for the future.

What are you doing to get ready for the Creator Awards? I hope to just enjoy myself and let people see and feel our team’s passion.

What will you do with the money if you win? This year we are building many stores in Shanghai and later in other cities. We will invest the award to speed up the [construction of the] stores, and to build the team’s operation and team capabilities.

Walking 31 Miles to Raise Money for Children’s Charities

Jie Xiao of E.G.G. Walkathon: ‘Young people want to challenge themselves’

Nonprofit: E.G.G. Walkathon
Founded by: Jie Xiao, 33
Founded in: 2011
Where: Shanghai
Number of employees: 5

Mission: E.G.G. Walkathon (Enjoy Give Go) is a fundraising campaign held to support small projects for children’s charities related to nutrition, education, social education, and child protection.

What is E.G.G. Walkathon? E.G.G. is an annual event where teams and individuals walk 50 kilometers over one day to raise funds for charities. Young people want to challenge themselves, do something difficult but that can make a difference for others. You don’t have to be super-rich to be a philanthropist.

Why did you start the organization? E.G.G. was originally conceived to fund a project to donate one boiled egg each day to a number of children in rural western China. We’ve since expanded the usage of the money to funding for library projects, child protection, left behind children, etc. We now have about 4,000 walkers each year.

We fund private-sector organizations because in China, there are many nonprofits, but most are very dependent on government funding. They don’t have enough independent financial resources. And legally there are many barriers for newcomers to grow and register.

How many people have you served? More than 260 charity projects have been supported over seven years. We raise up to 10 million rmb per year.

What does the word “creator” mean to you? For me, a creator could be someone who creates something concrete. A creator can make a vague idea into something real.

What are you doing to get ready for the Creator Awards? Luckily enough, we had a three-day public holiday just last weekend. I spent the days at a temple retreat and had time to think through how I want to present.

What will you do with the money if you win? We don’t have the bandwidth to do public promotion or media purchases. If we win, one thing we’d like to do is help more people know about E.G.G. We’d also like to help fund our research.

Category: Community Giver

Recycling Clothing to Help Kids and Companies

Nick Lim of Baosquared: ‘I feel physical pain when I see nature destroyed’

Organization: Baosquared
Founded by: Nick Lim, 46
Founded in: 2013
Where: Shanghai
Number of employees: 4.5

Mission: Our mission is to minimize environmental damage as a result of the lifestyle we’re all caught up in and to raise public awareness. Every one of the decisions we make every day has an impact on the environment.

What does Baosquared do? We provide people with an avenue to recycle old clothes, and we provide companies [with] an avenue to dispose of excess inventory –– shoes, school bags, toys, equipment, etc. In doing so, we help kids in poor communities, and we help retail brands save money.

Why did you start the organization? I love nature; I feel physical pain when I see nature being destroyed. When I see people running the tap, not paying attention, it pains me. There are people who see something wrong and move on. They think, “It’s not my business.” For me, it’s everyone’s business. There are more intelligent ways to handle products rather than recycling because a lot of clothing is new and clean.

How many people have you served? We’ve sent clothing to 4,596 children.

What does the word “creator” mean to you? Someone who creates something tangible out of an idea. A lot of us have ideas and fantasies about how we want to change and improve the world; not many people roll up their sleeves and get things done.

What are you doing to get ready for the Creator Awards? Nothing really, because I’m trying to launch the project in a few other places. But I’m very grateful.

What will you do with the money if you win? Hire people to make the clothing selection and sorting process better. Sorting clothes for hundreds of kids is time- and labor-consuming, but we can’t compromise that because it’s our goal to make kids feel better about themselves, not to feel as though they’re being handed someone’s trash. We’ll also use the money to expand to different cities.

Connecting Young Women to Create Professional Opportunities

Samantha Kwok of Beijing Women’s Network: ‘Twelve women turned into 4,000’

Organization: Beijing Women’s Network
Founded by: Jessie Wang, 26, and Oma Lee, 26, who are no longer with the organization; currently managed by Samantha Kwok, 26, and Leslie Dong, 26
Founded in: 2015
Where: Beijing
Number of employees: 7

Mission: Young professional women of all different backgrounds, countries, and languages help each other through peer-to-peer mentorship, connections, and resource sharing.

What is the Beijing Women’s Network? We offer panels, workshops, and casual dinners.

Why did you start the organization? A lot of younger women professionals based in Beijing were finding it hard to find mentors, especially those working in smaller companies, entrepreneurs, etc. An initial group of 12 women started to get together regularly to discuss different challenges and issues they were facing within professional settings. Those original 12 women turned into 4,000. Now the committee organizes events every month, [like] panel discussions and professional development opportunities.

When BWN was founded, existing professional organizations for women were a bit older. The founders wanted to find a more relatable group for young professionals. Lean In, which is a similar organization with similar goals, produces events in China only in Chinese. BWN wanted a more expat-friendly organization; our events often have interpreters and translations.

How many people have you served? We have 4,000 members. Proceeds from events go toward one women-focused charity. In the past two years, we’ve raised 70,000rmb for Wheels for Life and Rural Women.

What does the word “creator” mean to you? Someone who makes something out of nothing.

What are you doing to get ready for the Creator Awards? Not much, actually. We’re just really excited.

What will you do with the money if you win? We will hold more professional events. With the funds, we’d be able to continue to drive the growing force that has been volunteer-driven for the past few years. We’d hire an administrator to take care of the logistics, event management, and curation. We’d like to invest in a space, as well as develop a WeChat mini-program, to foster online engagement more efficiently.

Category: Performing Arts

From a College Campus, A Cappella Goes Global  

Zhiyao He of Calculasian: ‘We think this genre is really magical’

Troupe: Calculasian
Founded by: Zhiyao He, 25; Chen Chen, 26; Ziming Li, 26; Xu Chen, 27; Tianyi Wang, 27; and Ye Lu, 27
Founded in: 2013
Where: California (Bay Area), Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou
Number of members: 6  

Mission: We have two goals: to introduce the a cappella genre to China, and to introduce Chinese pop culture to the world.

What is Calculasian? We sing and record a cappella music in Chinese and English. Our debut album consists of 10 covers and two original songs, all with original a cappella arrangements of mostly pop songs.

Why did you start the group? We enjoyed singing together in college, at UC Berkeley. We think this genre is really magical because when you sing harmony together, the brain releases a “trust” chemical, the same that is released when you trust other people. We are attracted to this trusting environment and want others to experience this as well.

For how many people have you performed? We did a crowdfunding scheme when we produced our first album; we’ve used the funds to produce the album, fund our travel and reunions, rehearsals, and marketing.

What does the word “creator” mean to you? It’s something based on your past experience and your passion. You have a passion; you have a goal; you have a mission. And then you use your experiences and your skills and works to achieve that mission. In the process, you create something inspiring and great.

What are you doing to get ready for the Creator Awards? We were really intensively rehearsing, selecting outfits, and making sure we put on our best performance for the night.  

What will you do with the money if you win? We will have the funds to create, produce, and market our new album, which has a strong focus on Chinese musical heritage. Part of the funds will be used to hire world-class producers and engineers in order to achieve the best quality of music, and the rest of the funds will be used for marketing the material on a global scale.

Spreading Joy and Good Health with Jump Rope

Shengxi Li of Yuedong Jumprope: ‘Don’t drink, don’t smoke – just jump’

Troupe: Yuedong Jumprope
Founded by: Shengxi Li, 35
Founded in: 2009
Where: Shanghai
Number of members: 70 full and part time

Mission: We hope we can use jump rope to change people’s lifestyle and to instill a love of sports and health in young children. Don’t drink, don’t smoke –– just jump. Jumping rope is proven to be beneficial for heart health. Our dream is to turn jump rope into an Olympic sport.

What is Yuedong Jumprope? We do jump rope performance, as well as teach jump rope courses. We also make jump rope equipment. Our three studios in Shanghai are in Baoshan and Minghan.

Why did you start the group? When I was a student at university, our professor showed our class a jump rope video, and we thought it was so cool, so interesting, and so funny. So, we began to learn their style. Now, when we perform, other people also say, “Ah, jumping rope can be like this.” We began this group with the joy of jump rope, and we want to spread that joy.

For young children, if they have a good experience with sports earlier, they may become more capable, healthy adults.

For how many people have you performed? More than 600 schools have worked with Yuedong for teacher training, performance, or workshop.

What does the word “creator” mean to you? We say at Yuedong: Jump your style. That means: Be unique, be yourself. In other words, it means: Live your passion.

What are you doing to get ready for the Creator Awards? Our group now practices every day and discuss[es] what we want to let the audience know. We are working very hard.

What will you do with the money if you win? Help our team promote the sport, especially to young children in primary schools. We want to let them have a positive sports experience. We hope to reach out to and work with 1,000 more schools.

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