Fingertip ride of her life

Fingertip ride of her life

Rose Ng's school design project became a business creating tiny handmade skateboards to meet demand in fingerboarding

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Rose Ng Yan-tong showcases some of her homemade fingerboards.
Rose Ng Yan-tong showcases some of her homemade fingerboards.
Photo: Thomas Yau
Rose Ng Yan-tong loves skateboarding - with her fingers. The 17-year-old has taken a firm grip - pardon the pun - on fingerboarding in the city by launching her own brand, Life Fingerboard - Hong Kong's one and only.

The game of fingerboarding - a mini version of skateboarding - involves riding miniature skateboards, measuring 3cm wide and 10cm long, with your fingers.

As in skateboarding, the main attraction is the chance to perform many tricks, such as flips, grinds and spins. And just like skateboarders, fingerboarders love videoing their tricks on camera, too. Fingerboards consist of wheels, trucks (the axle), the deck (the board) and tape (attached to the deck for grip). All the parts must fit snugly together - then you're ready to show off your fingerboarding skills on miniature ramps and curbs.

Rose launched Life Fingerboards after spotting a gap in the market for local hobbyists. She specialises in producing handmade colourful decks, although she also sells all the other necessary components.

She moulds, designs and dyes each deck at a cost of US$7, then sells them online - mostly to customers abroad - for US$30. So far Rose has sold about 15 custom-designed fingerboards. She insists that her decks are quality items and her brand is becoming more popular.

Already her products have received good reviews from Fingerboard TV, a website dedicated to the sport of fingerboarding.

"The craftsmanship is really good and the colours of the wood are strong and solid," one reviewer said.

The United States-based Flatface Fingerboards - one of the world's biggest fingerboard retailers - has begun selling her decks.

However, Rose did not set up her own brand for financial gain.

"The money I earn I give it to charity and use for promotion," she says.

Rose set up her business in March 2011, soon after taking up fingerboarding.

"I had the idea when I got a school assignment to design a logo [which would later become her brand's logo]," says Rose, a Year 11 art student at the Australian International School Hong Kong. "Then I got a sponsorship from Prowood Fingerboards in the US."

She has helped the American company to design boards. Last year she created a Halloween-themed board, which was sold at comic stores. She called her brand Life because she wanted it to be associated with products that are environmentally friendly.

Rose says she enjoys making fingerboarding videos to share with others on YouTube. "It's quite fun," she notes.

She also enjoys the business side of her venture - particularly meeting new people.

However, she admits that producing her decks while studying at the same time can be very challenging at times.

Like all brands hoping to branch out, she's taken to sponsorship as a marketing tool to push her brand globally.

She found German fingerboarder Dean Hutter performing tricks on YouTube and understood the kind of appeal he could bring to the brand. So she now supplies Hutter with decks.

Fingerboarding is not nearly as popular as its older cousin, skateboarding, but there's a small group of enthusiasts responsible for its surging popularity in Hong Kong.

At the forefront is Rose.

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