This week on FEW Members' Corner, we would like to introduce you to Lisa von Ortenberg, Founder of LvO Boutique, fashion label mixing glamorous energy of Hong Kong and laid back, humorous vibes from Europe.
Hi Lisa, can you tell us more about your entrepreneurial journey?
I'm a German-born lifestyle reporter & editor – who moved to Hong Kong 10 years ago because I had met my husband here upon a world trip. I thought as a freelance journalist I could work anywhere in the world. However, two kids later (now 9 and 7 years old) I noticed how much the media industry has changed and I couldn’t help but look for a second career that would work alongside my family. Since I've always had a penchant for fashion, fabrics and vintage looks, the answer was simple: After years of interviewing other creatives, I felt ready to come up with my own designs in early 2018.
What inspired you to start your company?
Since coming to Hong Kong I’d always found it extremely exciting to create my own clothes thanks to the amazing fabric markets in Asia. I did my own wedding dresses and lots of pieces for my family. But the business side definitely started with some mummy friends from school... One said she would love to have my wardrobe, to which I replied I would be happy to help her. Shortly after I made garments not only for myself but also for other ladies - most of them tall like me who found it difficult to shop for unique styles apart from the high street... at affordable prices! The overall feedback to my first samples was extremely positive – which helped me a lot to jump off the cliff into the new.
So far, what's the most challenging part of your journey?
I’ve named my brand‚ LvO Boutique because I was dreaming of my own concept store in Central, think spaces like Corso Como (Milan) or the late Colette in Paris. Unfortunately, the rents in Hong Kong pose a serious obstacle for aspiring companies. Luckily, earlier this year I found a great space in Central, where I’ve had some really successful pop-ups – 33 Wellington Street. I try to come back every month. This said, I’m happy to invite you all to my next events there from 9 – 15 September and Sep 23 – October 1st. Please come and check out my silk!
Another challenge was finding the right tailor workshop that could provide consistent quality and finding a great web designer. Guess it’s the same in every industry – getting the right team together is key.
A FEW WORDS OF ADVICE
On building teams
So far I rely on a network of great freelancers and media partners whom I often know from my previous work life. I think it’s most important to follow your gut feeling.
On building credibility
I never compromise on quality and try to provide the best customer service I can. Sometimes I even visit my VIP clients at their homes. This is also a great way to build a relationship. One of the best parts of my new career: many of my clients became friends.
On running business
Running a business takes a lot of personal growth and stamina. One of the most important lessons was not to take things personally anymore. I used to care a lot what other people might think about me. However, it's definitely more fruitful if you use the energy of any feedback to better get to know your market. Another one: Start with the one task that annoys (or scares) you the most.
When an opportunity comes along, I try to grasp it. Fast! I’ve heard of two fashion runway shows in Hong Kong this year – applied and rocked the runway twice.
On the top three things to consider before starting your own business…
Do you really want to do this in 10 years time.
Does it work with your personal & family goals?
Are you ok to work overtime?