Interview with BeCandle
PMQ brings creative space to Hong Kong on a scale never previously experienced. Over 100 creative designers, businesses and entrepreneurs occupy the light and spacious Aberdeen Street location. Some of the first to experience the challenges and successes of this new, untested venue talk to us about their experiences as part of this exciting and innovative venture.
Part of a creative duo of two local brands forming the Glue Associates shop, BeCandle’s designers and candle artisans craft contemporary, whimsical candles. Tell us about your company
Tell us about your company
Glue Associates is a shop co-founded in 2014 by two local creative brands, BeCandle and Studio Mango. BeCandle creates one of a kind candles with a blend of artisanal techniques and contemporary design. Studio Mango designs and produces contemporary lighting and interior products with a humorous touch. We sell our own branded products as well as some collaborative products at the shop. Other than PMQ, BeCandle has a candle-making workshop at Fo Tan.
Before starting the shop at PMQ, we didn’t have experience in retail business. During the first few months after opening, PMQ has hosted some major events like the 1600 Pandas, and the nearly regular Night Markets, which have drawn significant number of visitors, and had very positive effect to our sales.
Our product and price range have been attractive to the general crowd of visitors, including quite a proportion of tourists. We have an affordable range of products like the candles, which keep sales stable, and a range with higher margin like the jewelry, pet houses and lighting products.
We have turned a profit each month until now, and projecting to break even in six months.
We have also gained exposure in the press and TV after opening here, which is very good for our brand building.
It’s definitely a challenge to attract the crowd or our target customers among a lot of unique and talented creators and shops here at PMQ. We hold regular events like workshops, and at the same time use social media to keep and grow a crowd of supporters. Most of the space is shared as a working studio, which is not as cost effective. We are trying to rearrange the space and increase the retail area and our range of products. So more investment would be involved.
Tell us about the process for applying for a spot in PMQ
We submitted a business proposal, which includes a description of our products, brands, past business experience and business plan. And then we went through an interview in front of a panel of judges formed by a group of design professionals and businessmen. After a few months, we were informed about the success of the application and the rental rate. The whole process took about 4 months. Our contract lasts for 2 years, and will be reviewed afterwards.
We did very minimal work for setting up the shop, using plank wood to build the cabinets and divide the space. The wall was sanded and kept white without any extra paint, the floor was polished and remains as raw concrete. We transferred the furniture at the working studio from our original studio to save money.
Would you recommend that a company opens up a shop in PMQ? Any thoughts/tips for potential shop owners that are thinking of launching in PMQ?
I would definitely recommend a company to open up a shop in PMQ, especially for those who are young and building their brands. I think for those who are thinking of launching in PMQ, try to think of it as a community instead of just a mall for designers. The synergy among neighborhoods powers up the community as well as our own brand.