Faces of EQRUM: Harmony
The entrepreneur, model and psychology student on her mission to bring diversity to Hong Kong.
“Appreciate the small things in life because there are people at this moment who want the things that we have.”
Harmony Llunga founded her eponymous modeling agency as a platform to amplify unheard voices in Hong Kong’s fashion sphere. The model from Congo-via-Hong Kong has captivated the scene with her distinctive vision for highlighting diversity in the city.
She’s a model herself, but these days, Entrepreneur would be a more accurate description of her vocation. When she’s not modeling, she’s either studying for her next Psychology exam, watching ‘The Office’ or figuring out ways to take her agency to the next level. Like a true entrepreneur, Harmony doesn’t have a fixed schedule because she’s always thinking two steps ahead.
“Everyone has different goals and it’s important to know where their passions lie so you can help tell their stories.”
It’s hard for someone as productive and industrious as Harmony to think about slowing things down, but when she does, it comes from a deep place. From her childhood in Congo, to moving to Hong Kong, Harmony’s journey towards success has been defined by a storm of challenges — culture shock, relationships and prejudice. All of these things have led her to make moves on her own terms, her own hustle — the driving force behind her spirit.
In this segment of Faces of EQRUM, we sat down with Harmony to discuss her story on how she started her agency, what drives her to keep pushing ahead while revealing some of the things she does to keep her head in the game.
What do you do now and what have you been up to lately?
I run a social enterprise that promotes diversity and inclusion within fashion, a platform for minorities in Hong Kong. We do annual fashion shows where we have people come together, though it's been a bit difficult lately due to COVID-19. We’re also a modeling agency with about 52 models. In addition to that, we're hoping to start a bigger production. All of this is run by a diverse team. The goal is to help people in the minority communities grow and do well. It's important to try different things and have your own perspective.
Are there a lot of people looking for work as models and fill those roles in Hong Kong?
It's now almost been a year since starting the agency. We had about 11 models before and now we have 52 models. So yes, there are people that are very interested and now we have applications every single day, but we don't just choose anyone. You need to be talented.
How does studying psychology inform your work as a model and entrepreneur?
I think it's being able to work with people, being able to observe behavior and understand those around you. I care a lot about mental health and how we work in society as well. I think that's something that should be important to people because if you're not healthy, you won't be able to create the kind of work you want.
What are some ways you're looking after your mental health?
I meditate every morning and night, and I also exercise. These things help me mentally and physically. It just releases stress. It makes me happy when I see results in the mirror. I'm reminded that it's all worth it. It's all about perception and being positive, about doing things differently. Little things like that.
Can you describe the different benefits between meditating and working out?
With meditating, you're trying to find a state of peace and relaxation. You're trying to appreciate the things around you. Working out, I think it's more of the physical aspect that's the reward. For example, I'll go for a run outside, and then I'll look at myself in the mirror and feel happy that I did the workout.
What does it mean to appreciate the things around you?
I came to Hong Kong as a refugee, and I look back at my country and think about going through the wars. I just appreciate the fact that I'm alive. Being protected in Hong Kong, I think about that. It's easy for us to compare, but when you think about it, it just makes you appreciate the small things in life because there are people right now who want what we have. It’s complex and I’m not sure how to really put this into words.
How do you remain appreciative while telling yourself that you want more?
Yes, that's actually a question that was brought up by one of my colleagues yesterday. When I started this platform, I was looking at refugees and the amount of respect they would get and how they would be treated. With this platform, I'm the intermediary. I look back at where I'm from, Congo, and I just appreciate what I have, but I'm thinking about what I achieve rather than what I have. And I think about how I can help others. I'm constantly thinking about how I should view things differently: having those kinds of conversations, talking to different people and having an awareness and understanding of your own and others' situations. You try to juggle a bit of societal pressure and your own expectations to make yourself better and happier each day.
So it's a competitive drive.
Yeah, and honest people will actually push you to be better. Personally, as a Black woman, I feel like I need to work three times harder to just get half of what other people have.
There are things you experience day-to-day. You might go to a certain place and get treated a certain way. For example, you can be respected if you’re on stage as a Black person. If a Black basketball player comes to China, everybody will go crazy, but if you see a Black man in a store in Hong Kong, that person will get followed because he'll be seen as suspicious. So these are the things that you tend to see, and I find myself saying a lot, "I need to work harder and be a certain way to get that respect."
What are some of the ways you're spending your time now? As an entrepreneur, are you working 24/7?
Being an entrepreneur and a model, you don't have a specific schedule. Yes, you are working 24/7, to be honest. The schedule is super packed. I'm always on my laptop and sometimes my parents get mad [laughs]. I'm trying to learn how to relax by watching 'The Office,’ which is my favorite TV show.
I don't really like hiking to be honest, but I love going to Lamma Island. If I'm very stressed, I'll just go there. I think it was two months back. I was so stressed with everything. So I ran away from everyone and was just myself. I went on a small hike. Nothing crazy. I just enjoyed that moment in isolation. I love nature. I love trees. I love beaches, like Clearwater Bay. I love nature, but I tend not to go out that often, I only go when things get very busy and stressful.
Being outside of the normative is familiar to Harmony, who doesn’t limit herself to just her field of expertise. She’s constantly exploring new paths, new modes of thinking, and it’s this willingness to step out of her comfort zone that energizes her in everything she does. All of this, however, is managed through mindfulness. Meditating helps her appreciate the simple things in life, which allows her to offload some of the pressures of her hyper-productive lifestyle. Some of the other things she does to maintain balance in her life include exercise and watching The Office. Harmony keeps a level head so she can continue her mission to bring together people of all cultures and backgrounds and promote diversity through her namesake platform.