In this exclusive WELL, WHO? profile we are excited to share the story of one of our employees! Over the past year Magdalena Klim, Maggie as we call her, has been working hard behind the scenes supporting a wide range of efforts to help our online magazine grow. As head of operations, she works side by side the WELL, executive team to help keep us organized and uplifted. In addition to staying busy with WELL, Maggie finds time to express herself by creating abstract resin art. She also channels her passion for non-profit work by providing consulting services for event management and fundraising.
Maggie is a wonderful example of a person using her creative talents to channel positive energy into her life and into the lives of those she touches. On her journey she has overcome personal tragedy and heartbreak, using her passion for art and caring for others to make it through the difficult times. In the below article we dive into Magdalena’s story- how she ended up in Hong Kong, kept herself afloat before landing a full-time job, and the role of art in her life. In sharing her story, we hope to inspire you to follow her example- step outside of your comfort zone, listen to your intuitions, and walk bravely towards the path you’re meant to be on.
Polish girl to Hong Kong Woman
When Maggie moved to Hong Kong, she was in her twenties, without any close relationships in the city or clear career direction. Faced with a similar set of challenges, many young people may find the prospect of surviving on their own daunting- but not Maggie.
At the time, Maggie was recently divorced from her “first love” who she met through modelling in her native Poland. After the failure of a broken marriage and the monotony of her PR job that she held for almost 7 years, Maggie was looking for a more drastic break with the past.
“Poland is calm, and it will always be home. It’s the place where I grew up and unfortunately experienced a lot of unpleasant things. But, these things are what shaped me into the person that I am today and for that I am grateful.”
The opportunity for a new adventure beckoned when her cousin called her and asked her to join her in Hong Kong and restart her life.
Like many first arrivals to Hong Kong, Maggie planned to spend 1 or 2 years there to try out her new life. Initially, she wasn’t fond of Hong Kong’s hustle and bustle. 7 years later, however, Maggie admits that the city won her over.
Getting settled in Hong Kong
Upon arriving in Hong Kong, Maggie set-out to achieve financial stability. Leveraging her modelling experience in Poland, she was able to pull together enough part-time jobs to pay the bills. The part-time work, combined with some financial support from her father, allowed Maggie to get on her feet quickly.
In her free time, Maggie searched for a full-time position that would give her the ability to stay in Hong Kong. For some time, she struggled to find a suitable position and it was looking like her Hong Kong dream would have an abrupt ending. But, fate intervened.
“It was the last day before I planned to go back to Poland when I got the call for a potential job offer in fundraising and events.”
Not only did the job provide a visa that would allow her to stay in Hong Kong, but it also presented her with an introduction into what would become a passion dear to her heart; fundraising for charities.
A passion for charity work
Maggie joined a company that focused on event planning and fundraising for charities. Not only did her new role allow her a platform to develop her communication and management skills, it also gave Maggie an appreciation for making a positive difference.
Maggie quickly gravitated to the causes of the non-profits she was helping raise money and awareness for. In particular, she felt good assisting charities focused on helping young people in Hong Kong and across Asia.
One that made a particularly deep impact was the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation (CNCF). Through her partnership with the charity, Maggie was able to travel and see the foundation’s efforts in action.
“I got to go to Vietnam last year to visit the shelter and help the kids. It was a life-changing experience.”
Another charity she became quite close with was the Hub Charity, a Hong Kong-based charity focused on helping underprivileged youth. “The kids that they help are living in spaces as large as cages, so the work that The Hub does is very important.”
Maggie’s experience in the non-profit sector opened her eyes and motivated her to make sure her work was always involved in helping others.
WELL, Magazine Asia - the next chapter
When her previous company closed its doors in HK last year, Maggie was once again looking for a change.
Luckily, fate would have her connected with WELL, around that same time. Drawn to the magazine’s mission to provide media that inspires positive change was a big part of Maggie’s decision to make the jump.
From the outset of the company, Maggie has been an integral part of the team and recently was promoted to operations manager. Using her creativity and problem-solving skills, Maggie has embraced the spirit of the magazine and done whatever takes (which is a lot when talking about a start-up) to get the job done.
Furthermore, WELL, Magazine Asia provided a platform for her to continue her work with charities. Maggie is currently spearheading WELL,’s engagement with charities and our soon to launch “WELL, Give” section of the magazine.
When a heart breaks
Throughout the ups and downs of Maggie’s life, there has been one constant- that is her love for art. Maggie’s art journey began early in life.
As a child, Maggie regularly spent several hours in her room painting. Her mother would often watch her paint and encourage Maggie to keep developing her creative eye. Maggie’s connection to art was inspired by her mother.
At fourteen Maggie experienced the first major tragedy of her life, when her mother suddenly died. With the tremendous pain that followed, Maggie’s urge to express herself through painting stopped in an instant.
Left to take care of her father and brother without her biggest supporter, Maggie felt lost and uninspired. It was hard enough to keep a normal daily routine to get through the day, let alone open her heart to painting.
Finding joy in creating again
For many years Maggie struggled to come back to the hobby she had once gotten so much joy from. When she picked up a brush the memories of her mother would come rushing back and paralyze her with emotion.
Only within recent years in Hong Kong Maggie was able to overcome her past pain and let out the creativity she had suppressed for years. It took a good friend- also an artist- to inspire her to give it a try again. After admiring a piece of abstract art at a fundraising event, her friend gave her encouragement to take action.
Maggie decided to try her hand at resin art because she was drawn to some pieces she had seen.
“I started looking at art to remind myself of what I like… I’ve always liked the abstract because it’s free -flowing and it’s the easiest way to represent nature.”
The abstract freedom of using resin allowed her to re-channel the joy she felt as a child painting on her own.
“At the time resin art was not as popular as it is now. I tried replicating some of my favourite pieces to see if I had the skill. I loved it immediately. My first piece that I made was an abstract ocean scene on a round canvas.”
Maggie was again enthralled in the joy of creation and decided to dedicate more time to the craft and share her love with others.
Eco- conscious creations
Resin is a very difficult medium to work with and it’s not very eco-friendly. Being someone who thinks deeply about her impact on the environment, Maggie thought of ways she could make her practice more sustainable.
“I try to utilise the leftover resin as much as possible. I have a lot of leftovers and as many as I can combine- I’d like to create a piece with them to show people that they can use the waste to create something really beautiful. I use a lot of silicone in my workspace to protect my floors and to hold the resin. It’s better than plastic because resin doesn’t stick to silicone and it can be re-sued over and over again. “
The beauty of resin art is that some of the “extra” materials from larger pieces can be fashioned into smaller creations. Some of Maggie’s most eye-catching pieces are her smaller pieces- including coasters and jewellery- all made from discarded materials some artists may just throw away.
Mindfulness through practice
Maggie believes strongly in making sure to give herself the space to practice her craft in peace. The experience of creating art gets her in a state of flow, where she can turn off the rest of the world and turn on connection with the self.
“It’s something that brings me to a completely different planet. I feel like it’s only me and my paintings and when I paint, I’m not judged by anyone. The longer I paint, the happier I am. It helps with my stress levels. The time doesn’t matter to me. When I paint there is no such thing as time. There is no past and no future, only now.”
Maggie’s favourite place to create art is next to a big window near the balcony of her home. She enjoys natural light and the peace that the small space provides. Music to set a mood is also essential to creating a relaxing environment. She often enjoys listening to U2 while painting, “their music reminds me of my past and inspires me.”
Art has also given her the confidence to not worry as much about outward appearances, a habit ingrained in many former models.
What’s next for Magdalena Klim?
Magdalena is on a mission to continue expressing herself through art. Her goal is to inspire the younger generation to take risks and follow their creative passions.
Her dream is to someday have her own studio for showcasing her art and teaching others how to use art to spark joy.
“That way I can help more people create a happy space at home to help them connect to nature and the beauty of the world around them.”
Maggie also will continue to help drive the goals of the magazine, using the platform it creates to get involved in the community and continue to help people.
Magdalena’s advice for aspiring artists:
- Find something that makes you happy and try to focus on one thing to start
- Think less and do more
- Buy a brush, canvas and some paint and simply start painting
- Don’t judge yourself if something is not turning out how you planned
- Go with the flow
We hope Maggie’s story is as inspiring to you as it has been to us. As her story proves, life can be tumultuous and uncertain. If you turn inward and cultivate what makes you happy, eventually that happiness will radiate outward and create positive impacts on others. Search for activities that make you happy. Express yourself. Get involved with the community. And all will be WELL,.
Before you go…
We’ve decided to start asking a few fun quickfire questions at the end of our WHO? interviews to give you even more insight into their lives. Below you’ll find our questions for Magdalena along with her answers.
WELL,: What is your favourite activity to do outside in HK?
MK: Rock climbing
WELL,: Where is your favourite place that you’ve travelled to?
WELL,: On the weekends you can be found________?
MK: Either on a hike or painting in my studio
WELL,: Who is one person that you look up to and admire?
MK: My Dad, and Elon Musk (fun fact: Magdalena has always been interested in space and draws a lot of inspiration from space and the universe.)
WELL,: If you could teleport anywhere right now, where would you go?
MK: Antarctica or SPACE
Written exclusively for WELL, Magazine Asia by Emily Kelleher