Friday Future Lister: Celebrating International Women's Day: May's Inspiring Path and Recipe for Success

May's journey from baking enthusiast to successful entrepreneur, shows resilience, innovation, and leadership.

March 8th, marks International Women's Day, a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It's a day that honours the progress made towards gender equality while reminding us of the challenges that still remain.

Koktail spotlights Gulapat "May" Kanokwatanawan, a person whose journey reflects the spirit of resilience, innovation, and leadership that International Women's Day stands for.

From the simple pleasures of baking in her youth, May began a journey that led her to create a dessert and beverage empire based in Thailand. Following her university years, she entered the world of publishing with her dessert cookbook series, "May Made." In 2007, she introduced the culinary world to Shibuya Honey Toast through her dessert café, After You. This concept became an instant success and a staple in the Thai dessert scene, evidenced by 40 branches that continue to thrive today.

Rising Beyond Borders: May's Sweet Journey to Global Success

May expanded her business interests by launching several other ventures: Mikka café and bakery, Maygori, a Japanese-style shaved ice shop, and Song Wat Coffee & Roasters. Her dedication to community and sustainability shone with the opening of Luggaw fruit café, where she directly sourced fruits from local growers, promoting both health and local agriculture.

In 2016, May took a significant business step by taking her company public, a move that was recognised by Bloomberg in 2019 as the "best-performing restaurant stock worldwide for operators with market values of at least $300 million." This recognition highlighted her business acumen and her role in the culinary world.

Inspiring Change: May's Legacy of Empowering Women

However, May's journey wasn't without its challenges. The Covid 19 pandemic posed a critical threat to her business and the wellbeing of her employees. But her intention was clear: to ensure the survival of her company while minimising the impact on her team, thus underscoring a leadership style that is compassionate yet resilient.

May's story is a source of motivation, especially for women striving to make their mark in the business world. It illustrates that through passion, commitment, and a willingness to innovate, overcoming challenges and reaching new heights is achievable. On International Women's Day, we celebrate May's accomplishments and the potential of women to create change and lead with courage. May's story is a great example of the strength of true leadership, resilience and the resultant success.