‘Please go to my business facebook fan page and click ‘like’, it will help me a lot.’ Annie solicited.
During a lecture break, Annie was doing her advertising campaign.
‘I am planning to expand the business– to rent another cube in Mong Kok.’ She said with a smile containing a tinge of shyness, a sense of content and a gleam of ambition.
Annie, Tai Yan Yi, 21 years old, a journalism final year student in the University of Hong Kong, has recently started a small business by renting a cube in a cube-shop.
The origin of cube-shop business is from Japan. It started to gain popularity in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the mainland China few years ago. Shop keepers divide the shop area into tens or hundreds of cubes and rent them out. The general volume of a cube is about 35mm x 30mm x 30mm.
With few hundreds dollar per cube per month, tenants can rent one or more than one cube(s) to showcase their products. At the same time, they are consigning their products to the shopkeeper. With small capital input and time-saving management business mode, it feeds the entrepreneur hunger of the general public.
Annie rented her first cube in a cube-shop in Shatin plaza, selling accessories such as earrings and necklaces at the beginning of 2011.
There are few pushes for her budding entrepreneur dream.
Studying business in a renowned high school, Heng Send School of Commerce, Annie has always been interested in business.
‘By that time, I didn’t have enough capital and experience. But being a final year university student, with the experiences and money I have accumulated throughout the years, I want to give it a try. Now or Never, you know.’ Annie explained.
Annie was an intern for TVB pearl when she was year 1, assisting the production of the program Money Magazine. Her very first assignment was to cover the emerging cube shop business in Hong Kong.
“We featured few cases, few failed cases.” She giggled, ‘but it has shed lights in my own business.’
She has also worked for Wall Street Journal, covering financial news and business.
‘I have got to know some successful business entrepreneurs. Too often, they started from scratch yet gradually have worked their way up to their present position. It somehow has inspired me, and given me hope for my life path.’ Annie said.
Her aspiration is not without a social context.
There has been a heated discussion on social upward mobility in Hong Kong. A sort of social consensus has been formed: it is getting harder if not impossible, for the post 80s generation to move their way up along the social ladder, especially for those without distinguished family background.
Born in a grassroot family, Annie felt that online business maybe a way out and the current cube business can be a test for her future business plan.
‘The economy of Hong Kong has been dominated by the financial sector, which requires social capital, such as networks, that’s the rule of the game. As a labeled post 80s, I am thinking, if we have changed the rule of game, defining the rules by ourselves, then we can get a niche.’ She said.
Indeed, Annie is trying hard to write her business rules.
She contacts few housewives who are good at making accessories, inviting them to consign their products to her. She markets her cube in different online platforms, such as Golden Forum, the most-viewed forum in Hong Kong; creating fan page of her business on Facebook, where detailed description of her merchandises and how the deal is made are listed; writing reviews of her products and her cube brand in different blogs.
She is in a role of the business founder, merchandise outsourcer, marketing chief, company accountant as well as a delivery girl if necessary.
Apart from being defiant to the social rigidity, fulfilling her humble teenage beauty dream has been the major driven force for her entrepreneur dream.
‘When I was a teenage girl, I wanted to look pretty and special. During my high school years, you know, lots of classmates are from well-off family, they dress up, they look good. But my family could not support me for all those luxurious accessories.’ She said with a little sigh, ‘ then I was thinking, it doesn’t need to have those brand name products to make you look pretty and special. Small, non-mainstream products can stand you out. ’
With the notion to provide an alternative styling and a cheaper way for young girls to dress up, which in turn, compensating the little regrets she had during her teen years, Annie started to search different accessories affordable to grassroot population from different countries, websites, and established her own business.
‘I hope one day, I can have my own shop, a real shop to sell all those small, lovely, affordable products to young girls. It is human psyche to desire to look good, and I am happy to see my products are bringing happiness to those young buyers.’ Annie said with content.
She is coy about her business profit, but it is enough for her to rent another cube in another district.
‘Wait, have you liked my business fan page yet? Please like it.’ She asked, with a smile irresistible for any conversation partner to reject.