Just a few years ago, crocheting seemed to be facing the same fate as many other traditional arts and crafts. It was seen as something that old people do, and of little interest to young people. However, thanks to a rise in consumer demand for handmade, one-of-a-kind products, crocheting is making a comeback.
One person responsible for this revival in Hong Kong is designer and entrepreneur Annie Wong, who runs her own crochet start-up, the Mint Box Studio. She hopes that by hosting workshops and collaborating with different brands, she can keep the crochet trend alive.
Wong has spent the past two years building her business. Recently, she teamed up with sportswear brand Adidas for their new 90s Revival Ozweego Collection.
“Adidas and I both concentrate on originality. Their new shoe collection focuses on mix and match: using old elements and merging them with modern styles to make something new – just like my own business,” she told Young Post.
Wong was lucky enough to discover her passion at a young age. She first learned to crochet from her grandmother, and what started as a hobby gradually turned into a full-time job.
“I lived with my grandmother when I was young. She had been crocheting for many years and was very experienced. Thanks to her, I guess I had the ‘crocheting genes’ in my blood, so I was keen to learn from her,” she said. “I then studied knitting during my university years in Britain, and that made me want to pursue a career in it.”
Unlike many mainstream shops in Hong Kong, Wong’s studio is full of personality: borrowing from her past experience as a shop window decorator, Wong likes to come up with seasonal displays. Her latest collection of products follows a unicorn theme – fitting, given the importance she places on originality.
“At my studio, I mostly allow customers to choose what they want to make, and give them the chance to add their own elements in their work,” she said.
When coming up with new designs, Wong prefers to simply let her creativity flow.
“I don’t follow any patterns when creating my products. Instead, I find things I enjoy and then incorporate them into my work. For example, if I go to the zoo and see some cute animals, I might use them in my designs later. I like to have a variety of products, though, so I may design them as bags or home decorations rather than plain plush toys,” she explained.
Launching a start-up is a huge and often stressful undertaking. The first few months after Wong opened Mint Box Studio were some of the hardest she’d ever faced. But she was driven by two things: a love of what she does, and the support of her family.
“At first when I faced an unsteady income, my family’s support was vital to me,” she admitted. “I believe that passion is the key. If you love what you do, regardless of the obstacles you face, you can do it.”
Of course, it helps when passion is coupled with a steely work ethic. Wong is careful to stay organised and manage her time well.
“As my work schedule is very flexible, I need to be self-disciplined. Most of the time, I make a weekly to-do list to keep track of my projects. After all, it is very easy to relax too much and become lazy.”
Her advice to students interested in starting their own business is that setbacks are inevitable, so it’s important not to be discouraged by them.
“Persistence is vital when starting your own business,” she said. “At first, it will be a lot more difficult than you think, but never give up.”