I have the pleasure of knowing some amazing people. People who have done extraordinary things with their ‘ordinary’ lives. And Monica, who I met out here in Shanghai, is one of them. She is an absolute joy – who has transformed my relationship with my skin!
These amazing individuals have inspired me to think beyond ‘normal’ as to what’s possible for my life – and I hope that by getting them to tell their stories here, they might just inspire a few others of you too.
Monica Garcia Cabello – Korean Skincare Guru
Tell us a little about yourself…
Hi. I’m Monica, the founder of The K skin factor. I curate Korean skincare products and regimes.
I left my Madrid day job as a financial auditor in a big company to take a wild leap into the unknown Asian world. After living in Seoul for 2 years I decided to turn my passions into a business.
I’m passionate about helping other women to make it happen and find their skin voice. Because I know first-hand all of the huge and brilliant changes that being in control of your life and your skin can bring.
How do you know Nicki?
Our kids have been classmates at school since we moved to China. Besides just this, I always admire woman who are dedicated and work hard. Since the beginning I was sure that Nicki was more than simply an expat mum. Then Nicki became my client and I love to create a relationship with my buyers and clients, so here we are!
Tell us a little about the life that you have created – and what you most love about it?
Well, the life I have created is just a record of thoughts, revelations and things that have happened to me in the past years. I have always been such an independent woman but I become a mother and a wife and these kind of things change your life forever.
As a financial auditor I have always had pursued the idea of perfection. With my family I realise that I needed to abandon this approach in order to bet for my biggest and wildest dreams.
As a woman we always have so much pressure about what we do and what we don’t. Sometimes choices are limited too. We can’t simply have all we want at the same time. It is not easy to live your best life and keep the balance. I think that’s the answer to most people’s problems : “you do what you have to do”.
I love my life now because I made my choice : I went abroad and made a living again. My family is not a chain for my personal goals but my inspiration. Curiosity is my motto and I had to slow down .
The thing I love most is the freedom to decide about my interests, my schedule and the correct timing .These things are essential to stop worrying about stupid stuff to simply enjoy life and family.
I specially like the idea of being my boss and challenge myself to develop my own ideas and projects.
Even though life gets crazy sometimes, that way is like I am able to enjoy the personal, family and professional side at the same time. Maintaining your career/academic and personal life can get pretty hectic sometimes. … Being able to work and engage with my family and social life at the same time is just priceless.
What are the defining moments in having created this life you love?
Well, I was born in a really tiny village in the north of Spain right after the dictatorial times. All was about nature and mountains. My father run a hotel and some businesses inherited from his family. Since the beginning the idea of hard work and creating a legacy for others was very clear to me. I always worked with my family and didn’t have a conventional childhood at all. My father passed away when my youngest brother was only 8 years old so my mum took care of the business and the 4 kids since that.
Life was tough at that time but I also learnt that it’s not what you were born into it’s what you do what matters. I soon learnt what is important in life and what resilience means.
I was so lucky also. I worked at the hotel after school and during the weekends. That has been key on my life. It set me apart. I lived in an isolated mountain town, just 10 men remained. But at the same time I was exposed to many people, from different countries and cultural backgrounds. Countryside and city life all together.
I had the chance to find out what the world is really about, meet foreigners, ask questions and discover how curiosity moves and changes all our lives.
Since I was very young I started to travel and study abroad. I was an Internationally minded person. These experiences were a valuable asset as they had strengthen my interpersonal skills and personal development. They were the seeds of what I am. I soon gained the courage to follow my dreams and leave the family path so I moved to Madrid.
I was determined to be myself.
Who are your key supporters along this journey – and what have they given you?
I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by a strong woman my mother, who made herself who she is. I absolutely consider her among the best, most capable leader I’ve ever worked with. She’s still working with my sister in the family business, inspiring all of us, doing more everyday. She will never give up because she loves what she does.
And I’ve been so lucky to find a determined partner in crime too, to be loved and supported, making my life run smoothly these past years. I think it’s so important to love others and have common dreams .When you share your passions with the ones you love, they will help you to make it happen and you will enjoy the journey together.
My two little kids inspire and challenge me everyday.
My friends and the community I live in are so important too.
I’m always looking for role models for the next phase, and powerful people who don’t worry about how the world perceive them are key to my future. Originals are everywhere!
How do you now ‘pay-it-forwards’? What support and inspiration do you provide to others to enable them to create a life they love?
I consider that we have the power to give energy, good vibes and courage to others by maintaining a positive behaviour, by giving example.
I try to help others to break through barriers and affirm their strengths.
I love to talk about grit and future plans with my friends too.
I work everyday to maintain integrity and honesty in what I do, and I only make choices that align to my own values and beliefs.
I grow my kids to make the world a bit better.
I try to inspire people to be authentic and I always say, well if you don’t like your life – just switch it up!
What’s your current favourite book recommendation?
I always have more than one book on my side table. I just grab one or other depending on my mood.
I recently finished The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell a novel about women who refuse to conform, about maternity and pursue.
I also loved Americana by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a powerful story of race and identity that gives you a good idea about what being a foreigner means.
My book for the past break in Singapore has been “ Crazy rich Asians”. I like to read books based on places that I’m exploring.
I’m currently reading “The souls of China” by Ian Johnson, about the return of religion after Mao. There is always so much to know about this amazing country.
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?
There have been a few but I always try to listen to my inner voice first… I think the best way to listen and offer advice is just being vulnerable and transparent in a daily basis.
Some phrases that have helped me to affirm my strengths were : “Just keep going and do not worry too much “ and “ Speak up!”.
What’s next for you on your journey?
As an expat in China I’d very much prefer to immerse myself on the culture of the place and its people rather than just stay in the bubble. That is one of the main reasons I created the k skin factor, to help people appreciate the wonders of Asian beauty culture.
Now that the project is solid I’m considering new projects to build up more bridges to link East and West.
I love cooking and I’m fascinated about Asian food too so who knows what comes next! There’s a lot to look forward to.
Monica changed my approach to skincare with her knowledge & enthusiasm – she made it fun for me, so I’m a huge convert to The K Skin Factor…
For more info and to follow what The K Skin Factor is up to, click here