Another trade fair visit

These weeks many trade fairs are held in Hong Kong. They are just in time for companies ordering for their Christmas business. Alan and I went to a Houseware Fair and we could see lots of Christmas decoration. I must say I LOVE Christmas and seeing all these decorations, Christmas trees, Christmas candles etc. made me really looking forward to this year’s Christmas. Like every year, we will fly to Austria and celebrate Christmas with my family. Can’t wait to see them again and lots of snow and Christmas decoration.

Now, back to what I wanted to write about: We checked out that trade fair because we wanted to see if we can find anything interesting and maybe get a 2nd product range for our business. It is always wise to not just stick to one product range but to extend it and maybe even find a totally different product range for your business. I have a colleague from Germany who is exactly doing this. He is selling ducks (the ones for the bathtub) and he has another online shop selling cherrystones and other natural products.

We found 2 interesting products: One is a factory producing stickers. Stickers aren’t anything special, but they have wall stickers which can be stuck on a wall or any other big surface. It is great to decorate your room. They have designs for children rooms, adult bedrooms, living rooms, kitchen and so on. Some examples of designs: gorgeous flowers, Buddhas, Asian inspired themes and many more.

Wallsticker

I also found a factory who makes 3D stickers for decorating bathroom & kitchen tiles, cups, glasses, fridge, MP3 player, PSP, iPhone, iPod, mobile phone and many more. They are really cool because the quality is amazing and after sticking it for example on a tile it looks like it was printed on it, not just a sticker. And the 3D effect is really amazing too. We were totally surprised that a sticker can look like a print. With these stickers it will be easy to change your bathroom, kitchen or any of your decoration within seconds. You don’t need to spend huge amounts of money on new tiles, glasses or whatever anymore. The stickers are even removable, so you can change the design as often as you want. Here is a photo of some examples, unfortunately you can’t see the quality:

3D Sticker

I hope we can find a way to produce and sell these products very soon. We can even make custom made designs. So anyone interested, please contact me by e-mail.

I have to admit I couldn’t resist when I saw all these gorgeous candles and ordered some samples for myself. That’s one of the advantages when you have a company, you can order free samples for yourself, but don’t tell anyone. πŸ˜‰

Trade Fair visits

We are constantly on the lookout for new products. This year I decided to go to all trade fairs in Hong Kong that sound interesting. You never know what you will find. As I live in Hong Kong and there are so many international trade fairs here, I should take this chance and check them out.

Today, Alan and I went to the Gifts & Houseware Fair to look for some new ideas. And we really found some interesting things. Alan is really into ceramic knives and we found 2 factories who could manufacture them for us. I also found some factories for badges, cute fans, plastic accessories (mobile phone straps, bracelets etc.) and factories who produce blankets and doormats for one of my customers. Alan also found a company who makes iPhone skinz but unfortunately, their quality isn’t good enough for his expectations. He is doing a local chinese blog related to iPhone news, software etc. and always looking for new products that could be interesting to blog about.

For my my company modeS4u, the cute, kawaii-style fans and the badges could be interesting to add to our current collection. Here are some pictures of the fans, aren’t they cute?

cute fans
cute fans
cute fans

Business Opportunities with GMtee?

Today, Don from GMtee came by at my office to say hi. I found his blog on the internet and contacted him as he is doing something similar like me here in Hong Kong. He is the owner of the brand “GMtee” and also has his own online shop and eBay shop. They are selling Asian inspired clothes with prints like dragons, Buddhas, Ninjas, famous chinese warriors etc. Don is an expat like me living in Hong Kong, but he came to Hong Kong much earlier than me (ok, he is older too). We met to discuss a possible business collaboration and to get to know each other better.

We came up with some interesting ideas how we can support each other’s business, for example

  • promote each other’s online shop in our newsletters to our customers (wholesale/retail)
  • exchange banner/link in our online shops
  • exchange flyers which we will pack into the parcels for our customers

Furthermore, we could also collaborate manufacturing our own designs at factories in China. He has a very good relationship with a factory who produces high quality t-shirts, sweaters and long sleeve shirts for him. He brought 2 shirts for me to check out the quality. I have to say, the quality is really incredible good (very soft, heavy cotton) and the print is a high quality print as well (thick, soft print). So we could share the MOQ (minimum order quantity) for the t-shirt material.

I think we small business owners should support each other and help where we can. Anyone else interested in a business collaboration with my company? If yes, email me.

GMtee T-Shirt
I got this cute t-shirt from GMtee

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 πŸ˜‰ 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.

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 πŸ™‚ ) and a really cool box with our company name’s on it.

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. πŸ™‚

The Beginning

How did i start this whole adventure?

Well, I will start right from the beginning. In 2004 i finished my Master studies in Computer Science at the Fachhochschule Vorarlberg in Austria. Now I could call myself Dipl.Ing.(FH) Sandra Boch. πŸ˜‰ During my last semester I was invited by a Hong Kong university (Polytechnic University Hong Kong) to join their 2004 summer school program. Since High School I always wanted to study/live abroad for a while. As i haven’t had any plans yet, I decided to join this summer university. The program was conducted in Hong Kong for 4 weeks and after that we flew to Beijing for another 2 weeks. The classes were about Chinese language (Putonghua) and Chinese culture.

Summer University
my classmates and me at our Putonghua class during summer university

During that time I realised how desperately I wanted to go abroad and started looking for suitable interesting study programs while being in Hong Kong. As it was summer already, the number of choices were very limited. I was looking for a marketing/business management course for 1 year (including a degree). Luckily, I found one called Business Management and I would get a Bachelor degree in Business Management at the end of one year. The course was conducted by Northumbria University in the UK, but classes were hold in Hong Kong. During that year I learned a lot about Hong Kong people and culture, studying in china (such a difference to Austria) and so on. I started thinking about my future and what I should do after finishing this degree. I successfully graduated as a Bachelor of Arts with Second Class Honours (Upper Division) in Business Management in May 2005.

Classmates and me
with my classmates (Weny, Yan, Cybill and me)

I didn’t like the idea of looking for a “normal” full-time job as i hate paternalism and restrictions and love the challenge. So i decided to try and start my own business right after leaving university. During that year i also met my future husband Alan. He also had his own company and supported me in the idea to start my own business.

That’s how my adventure started….

About us

Hi, my name is Sandra Boch and I am the writer of this blog. I am Austrian and live together with my husband Alan Mak in Hong Kong.

This blog is about my company “modeS Group Ltd.” and my experiences with my business. I write about our online shop www.modes4u.com, our business and our products. We sell super cute stationery, fabric, art & craft supply, bags, accessories and more. We have the following brands in our super cute kawaii shop: Tenshi Neko, San-X, Kamio, Crux, Kokka, Cosmo, Michael Miller, Hello Kitty and Q-lia.

I hope you will enjoy reading my blog about my business and my life in Hong Kong.

Thanks,

Sandra

Our Team:

Sandra Boch  Sandra Boch, Managing Director

Alan Mak  Alan Mak, IT Manager

Bianca Kita  Bianca Kita, Copywriter & PR

Gabi Bleisch  Gabi Bleisch, Customer Support

Maggie Ma  Maggie Ma, Internet Marketing

Lok Lau  Lok Lau, Packing Staff

Karen Lam  Karen Lam, Packing Staff

Ho Lam  Ho Lam, Photographer

Marie Ndzie  Marie Ndzie, French Copywriter

Our office and warehouse:

modes4u warehouse

lots of clay sets bento boxes and stationery

modes4u warehouse

shelves filled with cute products

fabric warehouse

some of our beautiful fabrics

stationery warehouse

one of our shelves filled with cute Japanese stationery

modes4u warehouse

our warehouse

fabric warehouse

lots of fabric bolts from Japan and the USA

photography table

photography table

modes4u office

Sandra is working

modes4u office

Alan is programming

modes4u office

Bianca and Maggie are busy promoting our shop

modes4u office

our big packing table where we pack all orders