This month, Urban Diary brings you the stories of two start-ups, a designer T-shirt label set up by David and an audio equipment company specialising in high-end hi-fi systems by the audiophile Uncle Mui.
The idea of dedicating an issue to start-ups came several months ago when my colleague Billy took me to meet his friend David at the latter’s workshop. As we’re chit-chatting, David sang us a song which he composed from an earlier time when he was working for a garment manufacturer. The lyrics of his song ridicule the routines and stress of a typical Hong Kong office.
David also shared with us the difficulties he had in starting and running his one-person workshop. His business is not making the money that it needs, and he has no idea how long it can survive. He knew and expected the challenges, but he took the risks because he wanted to impact others through original and creative designs.
I nearly cried when he pointed at the words “Handle with Care” on one of the t-shirts that he designed and said, “Actually humans need to be handled with care as we are all human beings with different needs.”
So Billy wrote a story about his friend to show our support.
He also wrote a story about Uncle Mui, who’s a retired electrical engineer and the father of our designer Sarah. Uncle Mui not only refuses to have a laid back retirement, he’s also turned down Sarah’s offer to do branding for his business because he doesn’t think that’s necessary. Sarah has always found her father’s decision to start his own business ”interesting”, so we decided Billy should go and find out how it all began.
As Uncle Mui told us his story, we realised everything can be retraced to the experimental after-school activity that he indulged in from when he was just a primary school child. His coming of age came on Ap Liu Street in Sham Shui Po – it was because of this street that he learnt how to make tiny radios that he would fit into pencil cases for his schoolmates who were only too willing to pay for his boredom solution. Uncle Mui still goes to Ap Liu Street regularly to gauge market reactions to the latest gadgets.
Starting one’s own business is nothing exclusive to young people. What matters is whether Hong Kong has the right conditions to allow people to pursue their dreams.