I Am Her: Sobee Dueñas Choa On Living And Breathing Positivity | Clozette

Our “I Am Her” series features the female movers and shakers of the industry to learn how femininity and power coincide beautifully and seamlessly together.

For a woman who's always on the go, finding time to attract and inject positivity into the most tedious tasks can be challenging. But for Mary Kay Philippines' General Manager Sobee Dueñas Choa, a busy schedule and a pile of responsibilities don't stop her from channelling optimism and using it as a tool to encourage and empower those around her, even in the toughest of times. Read on as she shares her journey in building legacies, seeing motivational mantras come to life, and navigating her many roles as a superwoman.

Mary Kay Philippines Sobee Duenas Choa 

Fill in the blank: I am a woman, a marketer and ___________. 

"...a legacy builder.

To break things down, first as a woman, it’s the same for all of us — we are daughters, we are wives, we are sisters, we are friends, we are also mums. There are many roles we play.

Next, I think I’m one of the very few people who actually practice the course that they took in college. Mine was Asian Studies and Marketing and I ended up in a regional marketing role. And I can even say that Marketing is my first love. At the end of the day, I believe that no matter what product you’re trying to market, you’re also marketing yourself and your skills and the impression you leave in the world. Which leads me to be a legacy builder.

No matter which company you’re in, I think we all wonder what, once we’re gone, would we leave in order to make the world a better place?"

How and when did you realise that marketing is the ‘thing’ for you?

"Marketing wasn’t actually the first thing I took. It was Accounting because my dad recommended it. I only lasted one term. So I looked at what’s interesting to me because, at the end of the day, you have to look at where your heart is. It should be something that doesn’t make you pull yourself up from bed but rather ignite that fire in your belly. And so I looked at Marketing as an all-encompassing industry. It’s about understanding what people want, what consumers need, how you're going to communicate with them — and that’s what made me decide to pursue Marketing. I also thought that there’s a world outside of the Philippines and I want to explore that so I also took Asian Studies."

What’s the best thing about working in beauty? What’s the most challenging? 

"The best thing is that I’ve been in this industry for decades — and I’d like to think that I don’t look my age given that there’s access to a lot of good products and technology. But on a more serious note, I think when you’re younger and you think about beauty, you see it as something superficial. But after being in this industry, I realised that beauty goes beyond that. There are ‘physical’ products that are dedicated to the aesthetic or getting a presentable appearance. But at the end of the day, people use skincare and makeup to feel better. When you look good, you feel good. With all the means at our disposal now, anyone can be beautiful as long as you make an effort. It’s always about this sense of self-worth and self-respect. You don’t have to go out there looking like Miss Universe. You just want to look the best you that you can be. There’s that outer aspect but there’s also that inner aspect because it’s up to you to define your personal representation of what beauty is."

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given and the best advice you’ve given someone? 

"In terms of the best advice I’ve been given, it actually comes from my mum. My mum is a retired nurse and housewife and I remember telling her that I have so much on my plate. Before I moved back here I was juggling two jobs at the same time — I still had my regional marketing role and every two weeks I was in Manila managing the business in the Philippines. I kept wondering, 'How am I going to do this?' And so my mum just looked at me and said, 'Walang hindi kaya (Nothing’s impossible).' I was like, 'Knowing that you’ve birthed me and all the things you’ve done for me, as a superwoman in your own spirit, I believe you.'

Sobee Duenas Choa on positivity

As for the best advice I’ve given to anyone that I’ve seen come into action is probably towards my team here in Manila. In 2015, the situation here isn’t exactly the most positive. There were many challenges that were making the business decline. And I told them, 'We need to have a positive mindset. If we believe we can, then we can. But we have to work together.' And of course, as a leader, I had to firmly believe in that. So we created a mantra at the time: 'Higher, smarter, stronger, together, we can!' And it became like our battle cry. 

I believe in positive vibes, positive energy. And it’s haloed where we are now because of that mantra. It’s our fourth year living and breathing these words and we’re on a positive space right now and we aim to continue doing that."

Sobee Duenas Choa on attracting positive vibes

Can you tell us your five Clozette essentials?   

"On a daily basis, what I do first is to always start and end my day with a grateful heart. During mornings, I pray, set affirmations and expectations for the day. And at the end of it, I do Bible readings and share my day-to-day positivity with my husband. I also think about what I want to do and accomplish throughout the week and this month. I believe if you expect things, they come to you — and it works wonders. How things go is all in our mind and how we set our intentions. Out of the five, those are my top two: how you begin and how you end your day. 

Then of course, in this industry, there are products. And if there are two products any girl should not live without, one, it’s SPF. You should have amazing sun protection — a broad-spectrum sunscreen — to deal with UVA, UVB, and other ageing factors. Second is lipstick. If you have no time, just swipe it on and it immediately brightens your face.

And the last one on my list would be a positive mindset. Like attracts like. So we should all have this positivity, this enthusiasm, this strong faith to stay grounded."

What’s next for you and Mary Kay in Southeast Asia?

"We have big dreams for this company. We’re celebrating 20 years next year and I envision that in the next 20 years, we’ll be bigger than where we are now. We are looking at sales and looking at the people we’re working with but more than that, I’d like to measure our success with all the lives we are able to touch. As our founder loved to say, 'There are so many lives out there. Our work is never going to be over. We can just keep on reaching and growing.'"

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

For more stories on inspiring women, read more of our I Am Her features here




While not necessarily new to the medical industry as a supplement, Shilajit is still quite unknown to most consumers. It is a sticky, tar-like brown resin that comes from the gradual decomposition of Himalayan rocks that happened over thousands of years. With Taiwanese brand Dakini Déesse introducing Shilajit to the Asian beauty industry, let’s delve into the main ingredient of this unique material.

It can only be found in Asia


Shilajit, also called mumijo, is primarily found in the Tibet and Bhutan areas of the Himalayan mountain range, but can also be found in areas of Mongolia, Russia, China, India, and Pakistan. It is said to be found oozing from the cracks of the earth’s surface during warmer seasons.

It’s been used in Ayurvedic practices

Shilajit has been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Used primarily for anti-ageing and rejuvenation, this ingredient contains over 80 types of minerals that all serve multiple purposes. It acts as an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and a mood booster. It is also used to enhance the effects of other herbs, so it's used in ancient practice by including it in tonics.

Great for anti-ageing

Shilajit is rich in fulvic acid, a rare and strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory electrolyte. Fulvic acid contains an assortment of fatty acids, hormones, vitamins, minerals, ketones, and flavonoids, which are nutrients needed for healthy cell and body development. When used in skincare, it protects your skin from free radicals and cellular damage.

It’s a superfood

Spices on Spoons

Because of its mineral-rich properties, people use shilajit to detoxify, rejuvenate, and strengthen their bodies. It contains amino acids, vitamins, and trace elements. Ancient Ayurvedic texts consider it as a “cure-all” for a lot of diseases known at that time.

What’s the catch?

Since the process for naturally occurring shilajit takes thousands of years, Bhutan considers shilajit as a national treasure. The harvesting and exporting of Shilajit are strictly monitored by the country of Bhutan, and the area where it is harvested is not accessible for the considerable majority. Because of its therapeutic properties, its natural reserves continue to be depleted as time goes on. While scientists are trying to replicate Shilajit production in labs by producing the numerous minerals present in it, it still takes a few years to make and is incomparable to the real thing. Dakini Déese uses Shilajit collected through proper processes, carried out by licensed collectors only under forest police’s supervision.

For other anti-ageing options, try these instead.



If we look back on skincare in just the past decade alone, we would see a lot of major changes. Back then, skincare was pretty limited to beauty soaps and foaming cleansers, a variety of moisturisers with an easy to pronounce ingredient list, and maybe a few more high-end options. Now, almost every skincare brand has a long list of products, which have, in turn, also changed our routines. And of course, once in a while, an eccentric star ingredient would pop up. In this case, we're putting the spotlight on cork — yes, the same material used on your dream boards and your wine bottles. 

From footwear to face care

If that got your brows raising, known footwear brand Birkenstock is the one to direct your attention to. After 240 years of championing corks as the base of their orthopaedic footwear range, they are now making their venture into beauty by introducing the material to a wider audience. Initially launching in select stores in the U.S. and some parts of Europe between August 2018 and spring of 2019, Birkenstocks are introducing their six-range Natural Skincare products in other parts of America (and maybe the larger global market) later this year with cork oak as its star ingredient. 

From lines focusing on moisture, anti-ageing, and even products made for men, Birks' beauty arm is said to follow the same philosophy of health and wellness as their renowned shoes. According to their website, the recent scientific discovery on the amazing skincare properties of cork oak made this venture possible. But what exactly are these benefits? 

The beauty of cork within and outside our vanities

As explained on Birkenstock's website, cork oak is a great source for suberin, a cellular material that's often present in tree barks. It is said to be able to protect and allow plants to adapt to external harmful factors. As a skincare ingredient, it helps in skin elasticity, collagen production, and is effective against free radicals. It also helps reduce skin redness and other signs of irritation, as well as helps maintain moisture on the skin, similar to its ecological function. Aside from these, what Birks prides itself is its unique take one of today's most popular beauty buzzword: sustainability. 

Cork For Skincare: Would You Try It?  - Sustainable Skincare

According to their studies, cork oak has existed for over 60 million years and has a very unique cultivation cycle. We won't get into the math of it all, but in simpler terms, harvesting cork oak for cosmetic use — or any other use for that matter — only requires the bark, therefore, allowing trees to continue to live and grow. Plus, the older the tree bark, the more nutrition it carries. That means premature harvesting is not something they consider. 

Cork oak forests, which are rich in the Mediterranean, also play a huge role in healthy ecosystem maintenance. They are habitats for many animals, and they offer a massive contribution in turning over carbon dioxide. With this, Birkenstocks have also pledged to help initiatives to maintain these forests and, in their move to expand their skincare line, make its importance known to many to inspire others to follow suit. 

Should you try it? 

Cork For Skincare: Would You Try It?  - Conclusion

Birks have established a solid fanbase for their footwear due to their unparalleled comfort. But while the success and proven quality of a fashion brand do not speak for the same experience when crossing over the beauty front, it seems like Birkenstock knows where they're getting at with their cork oak skincare line. There are definitely existing studies on cork oak and suberin that back up their claims and it seems like this is something truly worth trying. The sustainability aspect of it, too, outside of just the usual humdrum to "fit in the demand" seems to be really well thought out, making this eccentric yet interesting skincare range truly worth a shot.

From one quirky skincare ingredient to the next, here's the tea on Bakuchiol.