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New beginnings (part III)

{This is a continuation of a series of posts. To read from the beginning, click here}

The fourth new beginning: The launch of my business – Aide de Camp (November 2013)

Despite this being the fourth milestone in the past year, I’m really excited to be able to share my new business in stylish and practical camera handbags with you!

Stylish camera bags by Aide de Camp {Featuring the Rei camera bag}

Aide de Camp (ADC in short) specializes in bags that assist and empower modern women on a daily basis. The term ‘aide-de-camp’ is French for camp assistant, the foremost personal aide to a high-ranking official.

The name was suggested by my sister’s boyfriend and I fell in love with it as I envisioned our core business and design philosophies to deeply resonate with the duties of the aide-de-camp – to make life easier in general for users.

The first series is in camera handbags and I hope to expand it to other types of bags as soon as I can!

How it all began

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Sharing my journey

Recently I was invited to speak at an event on entrepreneurship. When I first received the email, I was stunned – the other speakers were established industry stars whom I respected and admired. Surely they got the wrong person when they contacted me?

I had to be frank and told them I could only share as a struggling entrepreneur of sorts. One who hasn’t launched yet, and is still in the midst of learning the ropes. (Till this day I still don’t really see myself as an entrepreneur yet for some reason).

And it turns out that was the type of story they wanted to add into the mix. So I said yes, because I felt that if at least one person benefited from my story, it would be worth it.

When working on the slides, I realized there were a ton of stories that I had to tell. Although the initial 15-20 min allocated seemed long at the start, turns out it only allowed me to share the tip of the iceberg when it came to lessons on this journey!

Although I had danced in front of thousands of people before, spoken about my company to potential hires in front of hundreds, this was the first time I was speaking to such a large live audience about… me.

entrepreneurship talk at shell livewire

In this quick talk, I shared how I decided to leave my job in marketing after close to three years, and bits of the many struggles I’ve faced since then – trying to source for reliable suppliers in China, learning how to guard my free time, coming out of a failed partnership, and the list goes on.

Only after working on my slides did I realize – that the single most important lesson that I’ve gained through this whole experience is the building of my character.

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Discover Chinese design talent at BUNDSHOP!

It’s always such a joy to discover collections of treasures online and when I found out about the opening of BUNDSHOP, it totally made my day!

There have been so many stories about the challenges of manufacturing in China, but few people ever talk about Chinese design talent! In recent years, there have been individual big names like Chinese couturier Guo Pei (whose work I absolutely adore) that have been making international waves. But Chinese design on a whole perhaps hasn’t carved as strong an identity as say, Swedish design. It seems that way at least, although I may be wrong :)

BUNDSHOP brings together the coolest products from fashion and industrial designers from Mainland and Greater China and makes them available for purchase across the globe. But beyond that, it tells the story of these designers and how each brand and product came into being. That’s truly my favorite part – learning about the stories behind each product.

As a designer, it’s often a struggle to get a product made to perfection. Whether it’s quality control issues, technical difficulties, meeting minimums, the list of problems sometimes seems to go on forever. So it’s always very encouraging and inspiring to see other designers overcome these sometimes insurmountable problems to bring a gorgeous piece of design into the world.

And if you don’t believe me when I say gorgeous, check out some of these products:

Shanghai breeze fan by Carl Liu at BUNDSHOP Continue Reading →

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Fabric and accessories markets in Guangzhou (part II)

If you happen to be in Guangzhou or are planning to make a special trip there to source fabric, boy are you in for a treat! Zhongda fabric market is one of the largest fabric markets in China and the number of stores go on forever! For more details on the China Fabrics and Accessories Center in the area, check out part I of fabric and accessories markets in Guangzhou.

The feel of the China Fabric and Accessories Center and the traditional Zhongda Fabric Market are worlds apart. At the latter, be prepared to watch out from being run over by human traffic, bicycles, motorcycles, push carts, cars, vans and trucks. They seriously come towards you in all directions and it isn’t helpful that I’m terrible at avoiding traffic. I think my heart skipped a few beats with every few steps…

2. Zhongda Fabric Market (中大瑞纺布匹市场 — Zhongda Rui Fang Bu Pi Shichang)

Zhong da fabric market guangzhou china

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Fabric and accessories markets in Guangzhou (part I)

If you thought Sham Shui Po in Hong Kong was the bomb for shopping for fabric and accessories, wait till you head to this area in Guangzhou! With the Zhongda fabric market and other trading buildings, this is really one of the largest markets you could ever access!

A highly recommended visit for you if you happen to be in Guangzhou and love shopping for material to make stuff with, or if you are sourcing fabric and accessories for your business.

Zhong Da Fabric Market Guangzhou

I only had a few hours there before my flight (I probably only covered the tip of the iceberg), but here are some areas that you can check out.

p/s I’m going to be including some Mandarin words in case you need this for reference to show the hotel concierge or cab driver.

1. China Fabrics and Accessories Center (广州国际轻纺城 — Guangzhou guo ji qing fang cheng)

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Get your designs made at Sketch Street!

Have you ever had an idea for a new fashion piece in your mind and wished you could find it in stores? Makes the shopping experience horrible doesn’t it? ;)

Here’s your chance to design your own pieces and have it made for the world to love and wear! All you need to do is submit your sketches to Sketch Street. The winning designs will be selected based on relevancy to the running theme, public votes and commercial viability. All the hard work in sampling and manufacturing will be taken care of the good people there who will work closely with you, the designer :)

Check out this past winning design and how it turned from a sketch into something really cool!

Original winning sketch by Liu Ruiyue:

 

sketch street leather lace top by liu ruiyue

Final product (you can view it on Sketch Street here):

leather lace top | sketch street

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Posting artwork on society6

If you love creating photographs and prints, wouldn’t you love seeing it on various applications and formats? I know I would!

I’ve recently discovered society6 and it’s such a breeze posting up artwork. In an instant you can see it in various formats such as art prints (plain and framed), cards, iPhone cases and more!

It’s been some time since I did a tutorial on making crepe flowers but I just can’t get enough of the photos created – so upload them I did. My favorite application is on the iPhone case which I’m tempted to order for my own use:

iphone 4 case crepe flower tangerine society6

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Crowd-funding for emerging fashion designers in Asia

ZAOZAO crowd-funding online platform for asian emerging fashion designersFinally! A crowd-funding online platform for emerging fashion designers in Asia!

ZAOZAO is launching in July and I am mega excited! Described as Kickstarter meets Fab meets Moda Operandi by its founders (according an interview by Techinasia), how it works is simple:

  1. Designers upload designs and decide on the funding amount required for production
  2. Each design has 21 days to reach its target funding goal
  3. Once funding targets are reached, production starts and everyone is happy!

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How to quit your full-time job to pursue your dreams

mandela impossible until it's done quoteIt’s been some time since I went on A Slice of Life Hour on 938LIVE to talk about my learnings on transiting from a full-time job to the life of a freelancer and first-time entrepreneur. Since then several people including friends of friends have been asking me for tips on how to build up the courage to quit and manage the transition.

As such, I’ve decided to post up my notes for the session with a few more tidbits that weren’t covered. These are just my little learnings and this list definitely isn’t exhaustive nor is there necessarily a right answer. But hopefully this will help others in a similar situation in some way or other. If you’ve been through this yourself and have other tips, feel free to comment and add on! :)

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