Doing it for love
Ani Lam dreamt of making her mark in the world of fashion design while studying at the University of the Arts London. Returning to Hong Kong after graduation, she wondered if making her passion a reality was possible.
Inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit that runs in her family, she decided the best way to start was to open her own shop, instead of going to work for a major brand. “The fact that most of my family members have experience in starting up their own businesses gave me confidence,” she says.
“In the beginning, I planned to start a home studio and work on my own. But I was worried that having my office at home would blur the line between work and leisure, and lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. Therefore, I decided to find another place for my studio. While searching around, the idea of turning a studio into a studio shop came up.”
The Lovie Shop sounds like a straightforward name, yet it has a special meaning for Lam. “Lo” implies “Love”, while “Vie” means “life” in French. By combining the two in her shop’s name, Lam aimed to promote the idea of “loving life”.
A passion for fashion
Lam’s passion for the industry makes her something of a perfectionist – a trait she learned from her mother.
“My mum has worked in a clothing manufacturing company for many years. She has repaired our clothes by hand since we were small,” she says. “I used to watch her and gradually my interest towards clothing and design developed.”
Being educated in London, she decided to combine Western and Chinese elements as her design signature.
However, fashion in Hong Kong is dominated by foreign designers – from Europe, Japan and, most recently, Korea. “Made in Hong Kong” has never been a mainstream fashion trend.
Lam is hoping to help overturn the foreign monopoly. By encouraging her friends to sell their handmade products in her shop, she hopes to help boost both the awareness of local designers and the designers’ confidence. “It will be great if they realise that their products are indeed amazing and people do want to have them,” she says.
Drawing on her talent and passion, Lam is a voluntary art team worker at the Chi Heng Foundation. She keeps a corner of her shop for selling bags illustrated by AIDS orphans as part of the foundation’s art counselling programme, with the theme “Fill the world with dreams of love”.
The bags are made by women affected by HIV in rural China. The profits go towards funding the foundation.
Accept the challenge
Lam started selling her own products and worked as a part-time worker while still a student in London, but the real work started when she set up her shop. Without any assistance, she needed to be her own brand’s designer, buyer, treasurer, shopkeeper and administrator. Time management has become an issue – “I must learn to seek help or advice from others instead of doing everything on my own,” she says.
Strive for excellence
Lam believes there are many things she still needs to learn, and that she has only arrived at the starting point. Recently, she participated in a worldwide competition in which the winner will get a chance to design a capsule collection using up-cycled textiles for Shanghai Tang, China’s leading luxury brand. She hopes that by entering competitions she can broaden her horizons, build up more experience and gradually be able to create her own brand, which will focus on vintage design.
Education & Experience
- Graduated in fashion design womenswear from the University of the Arts London – Central Saint Martins
- Internships with brands such as Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi.
Favourite fashion designer: Vivienne Westwood
Favourite quote from a designer: “Buy less, choose well, make it last” – Vivienne Westwood.
The Lovie Shop
Address: Shop 19, G/F, Wang Fai Mansion
2-12 Wang On Road, Fortress Hill, Hong Kong
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11-7PM