A visit from a friend

Philipp, my friend from Germany, who lived in Hong Kong before and is now living in Thailand (Koh Samui) visited me today in the office. He came to Hong Kong to discuss a new project with Alan and me. They are interested in getting a similar online shop like ours from us. Christan, another German who works with Philipp, prepared a design layout and we discussed their plan. Alan will be responsible for the programming part while Christian is doing the design.

They want to sell their mp3 player in their new online shop and they are very keen in getting our online shop template as Alan invested lots and lots of time in improving the XT-Commerce standard shop. XT Commerce is a very successful online shop template from Germany and you can get it for free. But there are some disadvantages: First of all, there were a lot of logic bugs, programming bugs and a horrible English template (they translated the German template word by word into English). Second, the template doesn’t have any kind of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so your shop will be listed at the back of search result pages. It is crucial for online shops to be listed on the first page for important keywords to be able to get new customers. So Alan spent night after night (he has a full time job during the day) on changing the template and make it more attractive for search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN.

And I must say: IT WORKED! Our online shop was almost fully indexed after just 2 weeks being online. Furthermore, we are listed for many important keywords on the first page, sometimes we are even the number one! From ZERO to page 1(!), what a great result!

So Philipp is even more keen to get our template now ;-) But he has to pay good money for that. haha. But it will be worth it, I am sure about that. So anyone, who may be interested in getting his/her own online shop with a fully SEO optimized template, please check out SEO-Expert or contact me (in English or German) and I will forward the details to Alan.

2nd visitor

Unbelievable, today we had already our 2nd visitor coming to our new showroom within 2 weeks! They are from Germany as well! I picked them up at their hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui and took a taxi to our showroom with them. I offer such a good service ;-) They are interested in ordering some custom made products for their company. I will try my best to find suitable factories and products for them.

That’s why we opened the showroom and everyone is invited to come by and have a look at our products. Just give me a call in advance. You can find our address here.

Back online

I am back online! YEAH! Yesterday the “internet man” came by and installed the broadband connection (4MB up- and download) but unfortunately it didn’t work after he was finished. He said something about “Port, building, broken” in his broken english. I wasn’t sure what he meant. So Alan called to Hutchison and asked why our internet doesn’t work. They said that they have to fix something at the building and I should try again the next day. So today, I went to office again and tried it out. Luckily it worked! Finally I can work properly again ;-) No more late answers for all my customers’ emails.

Furniture for free

A good friend of Alan, Stephen, works in a recycling company and offered us to give us chairs for our office for free. They get each year office equipment from HSBC (big bank) as they need to use up their budget and invest in new office equipment every year. Therefore, they had some very nice, comfy, almost new chairs for us. Today, we called a van to pick us up and drive to Yuen Long which is near the Chinese border in the North. We got 5 really nice chairs and drove them back to our office.

Now Alan and our visitors don’t need to stand anymore but can sit in comfy chairs ;-) Thanks Stephen!

Office Chairs
our nice new office chairs

Moving

Today we moved our home office and products to the new big office. It was unbelievable. There were 3 guys and me and we needed almost an hour to get the things just downstairs (although we could use a reasonable sized elevator)! I didn’t realize before how many things are actually related to my work in our home. Our apartment looks really empty now. One room is completly empty and the others look really strange now to me ;-)

Once the things were finally in the truck, the rest of the move was pretty quick. We drove around 15 mins to the new office, moved the car in front of the loading area (don’t forget that’s an industrial building where trucks can load and unload items easily :-) ) and just moved everything directly into 2 big elevators. 10 floors up and we moved all the things into the office -> DONE!

Thanks to Alan, Ping and Mark for their help!


big office room

my “boss office”

some of our stock

I got the keys !!!

Today, FINALLY, I got the keys for our office. I am so excited! It is really hard for me to wait for something when I really want it.

Now, there is still lots of work ahead of us. Tomorrow we are going to move the complete office (incl. our products) to there. We will get some help from Alan’s brother Mark and Alan’s best friend Ping who is experienced in moving because he helped us moving our apartment before. ;-)

We checked out the available wireless network connections immediately but unfortunately no unsecure network. That means I still have to work at home the next week until the “internet guy” will come on 7.4.08.

Office keys
there are 3 keys only for the entrance door (for security reasons)
plus 1 key for the mail box (the other 2 are for my home)

Handing over delayed

We got a call last night that the landlord cannot finish the renovation until this evening. Therefore we have to postpone the handing over of the keys till Saturday because tomorrow is my husband’s 30th birthday! Damn, I am really not good in being patient especially when I am so looking forward to something. That also means that we have to delay our move from Saturday to Sunday. I hope we can finish everything in one day. There are sooo many things to move. I will need a holiday after this weekend.

And just to make the situation (and my patience) worse we tried to sign up for a business internet connection with Hutchison and they told us they won’t be able to come before 15.4.!!! Are they crazy? How can I work without internet for 2 whole weeks? They are nuts! So my husband kept pushing them and finally they agreed to come on 7.4.08. So that means I have to figure out how to work without internet in the office and use the computer at home instead. My last hope is that I can get some free access to a wireless internet connection from a neighbouring company for that week. ;-) A customer from Australia also made an appointment to see our showroom on the same day so I hope these guys set up my internet before I welcome my first official visitors to our showroom.

Starting the “real” business

As I mentioned before, I started my own business after finishing my studies in Hong Kong in 2005. Of course, at the beginning I didn’t register my company because I was just doing lots of research to find out what I could sell. I also didn’t earn any money yet, just putting in my own money. In 2007 my business started growing significantly, especially because we started doing wholesale business as well. Therefore, I decided that it is really urgent now to register my own company here. My German friend Philipp recommended an accountant to me who is taking care of such things for a good price. I sent him an email, filled out the paper he sent me (one single page!) and he prepared the documents for registration for me. He sent me the documents by courier, my business partner and me signed everything and sent it back. A few days later I got a call that our company is registered and I should pick up the original documents at his office! Now tell me, isn’t that the easiest and fastest way to open a company? I am really impressed! I even got a set with 2 different company chops, a “pressing thingy” to make a seal (no idea how to call that), a statutory book (man, that looks professional :-) ) and a really cool box with our company name’s on it.

Looking for an office & warehouse

Until now we had an home-office and we also stored all our products in our home aka “warehouse” ;-) . But we do get more and more requests from wholesale customers asking if we have a showroom in Hong Kong as they are visiting Hong Kong and want to see our products. I always had to deny and offered them instead to visit them in their hotel and bring a huge (and heavy) suitcase full with samples with us. Additional, our stock is getting bigger and bigger and we run out of space. Hong Kong apartments are already sooo small and not really suitable for fitting in a business with stock.

Therefore, in January ’08 we started looking for an office with warehouse space so we can set up a showroom, our office and have enough space for storing all our products. We had quite a lot of requirements including:

- 1000-1200 sqf
- reasonable price (what is reasonable in Hong Kong?!?)
- close to the MTR (subway)
- quiet (no machines/factories on the upper/lower floors)
- must have its own toilet (I can’t imagine using the public toilet in these industrial buildings)
- at least 3-4 rooms (“boss”-office, showroom, warehouse, etc.)
- renovated (walls painted, clean floor)

Based on these requirements it was really hard to find a suitable place, but good news everyone:

WE FOUND IT!!!

It is 1,200 sqf big, has 3 rooms (2 “boss”-offices, 1 big room) plus 1 storage room plus a big corridor plus a toilet, reasonably priced, very close to my home (~15 mins by bus plus 5 mins walking) and very close to MTR (~5 mins walking). The offices around it are trading companies, so they are usually not really noisy. ;-) The landlord also agreed on painting the walls, cleaning the carpet and the air-conditioners. Furthermore, there is a new big Yoga-studio within 5 mins walking distance ;-) Great for working out after work. We met the landlord last Sunday 23.3.08, and we will get the keys this Thursday! That’s quick! So in other words: JUST PERFECT!

We will convert the corridor into a showroom, Alan and I get each one of the “boss”-offices and our future employees will work in the big room. I found a part-time employee (Alan’s brother) already who will start working next week as well.

I will post some photos of our great new office as soon as possible. In the meantime, here is a picture from Google Earth in a bird’s eye view…

Office Picture
picture of our office including surrounding area (shopping mall, yoga studio, bus stop and MTR station)

Anyone, who is visiting Hong Kong and interested in our products is welcome to visit us. Please call for an appointment. Here is the address:

modeS Group Limited
Room E, 10/F
On Fook Industrial Building
41-45 Kwai Fung Street
Kwai Fong
Hong Kong

phone: (+852) 901 869 82

Directions: Here is a map where you can see how to get to our office:

Office Map

Some extra income

While I was searching for the right products I got the opportunity to earn some extra cash. In November 2006 Sony released the Playstation 3 in Japan and therefore it was available in Hong Kong as well. Almost everything on sale in Japan is imported to Hong Kong too. So I grabbed this opportunity making some money in selling PS3s to Europe on eBay. I could sell them quite well because there were not too many competitors and the demand was huge. Additionally, I also offered PS3 games and accessories for a very good price.

PS3 delivery
customer orders including PS3s, games & accessories

PS3 games and accessories
PS3 games & accessories on sale on eBay

In March 2007, the PS3 was released in Europe and eBay got some crazy restrictions on who is allowed to sell the Ps3. We were not allowed to anymore. So I quit selling them and focused on my main business: fashion.

The money I earned from the PS3s and games I invested in manufacturing clothes and fashion accessories in China and ordering bags from Thailand as well. I was finally able to stock up on more items and increase our sales. We also used some of the money for a Christmas holidays trip to Austria to visit my family there. :-)

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