Inspirational Woman: Kelly Choi | Founder, KellyDeli

Kelly ChoiTell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role

There are many words to describe who I am. But firstly, I would like to say that I am a wife to my husband and a happy mom of our 10-year-old daughter.

I am an entrepreneur with the vision of bringing the best of Asia to the UK and I am grateful for the successful launch of Kelly Loves, a range of authentic, traditional Asian meals, snacks and drinks as well as KellyDeli, a group of companies that include: Sushi Daily, BamTuk and TukTuk, which was launched 10 years ago.

KellyDeli has built a network of over 1000 Sushi Daily kiosks in supermarkets across Europe and the UK. So, now I am able to live and work in different cities such as London, Madrid and Paris.

I am originally from a small town called Jeongeup in South Korea. I lost two of my siblings due to hunger and my parents told me that I couldn’t go to high school because they couldn’t afford it. I did not accept my situation as it was and I moved to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, alone and worked at a sewing factory that supported its young workers to study at night. Since then, I’ve moved to Japan and France with the goal of becoming the best at what I do. Life has not always been easy but I am grateful that even those difficult days helped me grow and become who I am today.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Regardless of the situation, I was in and what other people thought, I always wanted to be the best at what I was doing. This still applies now. I did not plan my career just thinking about it, rather I focused on what I had and what my strengths were and simply endeavoured to become the best in that area. That area was introducing high-quality Asian cuisine to the UK and Europe.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Absolutely, my first business in Paris failed. I was left feeling demotivated and put off starting another venture for almost two years. What got me through this period in my life was my mum who sacrificed so much of herself to support her five children. And, for her, I decided to get back on my feet again. From this experience, I vowed to myself to become a more positive and happy figure – not just a successful career woman. I started getting out more, walking 10 and then 20 minutes which later became a couple of hours. I gained my health back and started to think about what would really make me happy – which gave birth to KellyDeli and more recently to Kelly Loves.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

The fact that I am surrounded by so many talented and inspiring people that I can work with on a daily basis and who share the same vision and passion for the business.

10 years ago, I had a vision of “Bringing the best of Asia to the World.” Now, more than 6000 people gather under this vision and now it’s growing and impacting a lot of people’s lives.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in your achieving success?

There is a ritual that leads my life the way I want to head – personally, spiritually and professionally.

In December every year, I make a vision board where I collect the images that I want to have and achieve the following year. I visualise it as if it has already been achieved – repeating this practice every morning, during the day and before I go to sleep.

And when I look back on the previous years, it is simply amazing and surprising how many of the dreams on my cardboard have been realised.  So I do not “plan” my future, but rather “visualise” it every day.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s ‘Mentee?’

I have a lot of mentors myself, who shared their knowledge and wisdom with me in various parts of my life. Successful business people helped shape my company, including Yamamoto-San as our sushi master chef to develop the best recipes. And many other leaders in the world, whom I got to know through books and video clips, inspired and taught me to become the best version of myself. I myself learned and grew through the help of my mentors. I always wanted to do the same for others if I could help them in some way. And now I am gratefully sharing my experience and knowledge through my two bestselling books and my YouTube channel in Korea. In the near future, I am planning to roll these out to people in Europe too.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Miracles happen to those who act. Believe and act on it.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

With the best team, I founded Kelly Loves and it is so great to see the foods that are close to my heart and that of my daughter can be enjoyed and found in local supermarkets or online. They consist of my favourite snacks and meals that I love to share with my family and friends. They are not just food, but also the culture of love that I grew up with. And I want to share this joy of life with people all over the world. That is my next, big challenge.

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