The fashion duo changing the way we shop
This month we’re featuring not one, but two talented women for our That Girl feature! Abby and Shan Shan are the founders of our favourite Hong Kong dress rental company, YEECHOO. We’ve been big fans of the brand ever since it launched (check out our first feature with their dresses here!), and the girls have since taken Hong Kong by storm with a fierce collection of the most covetable designer dresses and accessories.
Abby and Shan Shan have recently revamped the YEECHOO website and they even have a new bridal section where you can consign your own wedding dress. Say goodbye to any outfit issues, YEECHOO has you covered with an infinite wardrobe of rentable gorgeous gowns for any occasion! We caught up with these two lovely ladies at their new showroom to talk all things shopping and style. Find out why they think renting fashion works in the HK market and what their big plans for the future are…
Tell us about your background and where you’re from.
S: I was born in China, went to school and then started my banking life in Melbourne. After three years of crunching numbers and pumping out slides, I moved to HK hoping to “spice up” my life a bit – I’m still in love with this city.
A: I was born in Jiangxi, China, before I went to Singapore for high school. I then moved to the U.S. for college and after a year on Wall Street, I moved to Hong Kong. I’ve been here since 2011 and absolutely love this vibrant city!
Where do you live? How have you made your home your own?
S: I live near Cyberport – I moved there a few years ago mainly to be near the huge dog park since our 35kg Chow Chow was desperate for a large playground! I used to love adding my personal style to my home using unique artistic deco pieces, cool lamps and calming scents… But now that I’m sharing a flat with a dog, a cat and a one year old toddler, the whole place is just filled with their toys, laughs and screams everyday. Very different, but it’s my source of happiness and where I call home.
A: I live in Happy Valley and my favourite part of my apartment is the 600 square foot balcony, which I’ve filled with plants and flowers. I’ve also decorated the roof with paper lights bought from Thailand and in the summer, I’ll blow up my inflatable swimming pool on the balcony. You can’t beat sipping a glass of wine while soaking in the swimming pool on a hot summer night!
How do you describe your personal style? How does it evolve and change?
S: My personal style changed so much since moving from corporate life to working at a startup. I used to love that sleek, feminine and sophisticated look with a sexy touch; dresses and heels were my best friends! But I have my own fashion startup, I’m pushing myself to be more adventurous and always try something new. Simple + cool + comfort is what I’m working on for March!
A: I love a clean, simple but stylish look. Club Monaco and Theory are my go-to brands for daily wear. Ever since I started going to gym regularly, I’m also a big fan of sport fashion wear (see our post on athletic fashion here). How I look now is so different from my banking days – I used to always be in a one piece.
Where do you shop in Hong Kong? Any secret finds you can let us in on?
S: Having YEECHOO’s unlimited designer collections, I haven’t purchased a single dress for two years! For casual wear and accessories, I mainly shop online on Shopbop, Net-a-Porter, ASOS and YOOX, and of course also from some cool boutiques when we travel to US and Europe for work.
A: I rarely shop in Hong Know now I have YEECHOO. Whenever I have a special occasion, I have this enormous wardrobe to choose from. Yes, I’m quite lucky, and that’s why we’re making YEECHOO accessible for every girl. For personal items, I usually shop when I am traveling in Europe or New York, love discovering those hidden boutiques.
What are your must-have beauty products? Where do you go for hair/nails/maintenance?
S: Methode Swiss thermal intensive hydrating mask is my number one recommendation to anyone. I’ve been seeing Sheila from Kim Robinson for five years now – she’s the only one that can save my ridiculously fine hair… and Eighty-Eight on Wellington Street is a great place for a mani and pedi.
A: I love all kinds of masks! From a Borghese Fango Mask, Rose Face Mask and Black Tea Mask from Fresh, to a GlamGlow Mask and many more. Homemade masks are also great. Try mixing mung bean powder with honey, it’s great for clearing up acne.
Describe your perfect weekend in Hong Kong.
S: I would sleep in a bit in the morning, take my daughter to Maggie & Rose at The Pulse, have a relaxing brunch with my husband while Olivia plays with all the fun toys and other babies, take our dog out for a run in the afternoon, then enjoy a nice home cooked dinner together with our favourite wine… perfect.
A: I’d start the morning early by putting on my new sports wear and head up for the Twin Peaks hike, finishing up in Stanley. I’d then enjoy a long buffet lunch at Mijas Spanish Restaurant, overlooking the water. After, I’d take the bus home to enjoy the mountain and water view, then relax on my balcony. Soon after, I’d start dressing up for a lovely girls night out!
What’s your favourite place in Hong Kong?
S: Since the start of this year, my favourite place in Hong Kong is no doubt Maggie & Rose, the newly opened, most kid-friendly private family club ever! It’s the only place that my husband and I can fully relax over delicious food and coffee while our toddler has crazy fun. The entire place is safe for kids and their kids’ toys are amazingly fashionable!
What are you favourite restaurants and bars in Hong Kong?
S: I can never stay away from spicy Sichuan food for more than a week! Sanxilou in Midlevels and Golden Valley in Happy Valley are my two all time favourites. I also love 22 Ships for their delicious Spanish dishes and TRi for the unique brunch experience. For bars I adore Stockton for its interesting vintage glamour concept and the sophisticated whiskey cocktails.
A: There is a Nan Tei Yakitori at the bottom of my apartment, so I go there all the time. The vibe there makes me feel like I’m not in HK, but somewhere in Japan. Discovering new brunch spots is my favourite weekend activity and my new find is Why 50 in Sheung Wan – their yoghurt is mind blowing! I can’t live without spicy food, so if you’re the same, you shouldn’t miss Yu Chuan private kitchen. Quinary is my favourite bar, not only because my fiancé and I went there on our first date, but also because of the Earl Grey Caviar Martini!
Tell us about your careers and why you decided to start YEECHOO.
A: I started my career in investment banking with Citi in New York, and relocated back to Hong Kong. After two more years in banking, I left finance in 2013. I went on a soul-searching trip – backpacking in Nepal and Bhutan, scuba diving in Hawaii – and I realised that the world outside finance is much bigger. At that time, my co-founder and I started brainstorming. I always believe that idle resources can be utilised in a more effective way. We ladies often purchase dresses we only end up wearing once or twice, so why not create a wardrobe that everyone can share?
How do you select which designers/dresses to add to the YEECHOO collection?
A: When YEECHOO was first launched, we partnered up with mostly well-known designers in the U.S. and Europe, selecting styles based on what we thought would work for our audience in Hong Kong. Now, as the company grows, we have our own database, which helps guide us in choosing styles. We’re also working with fashion experts in the buying process. Besides top designer names, YEECHOO is also extending our offerings to talented emerging designers in the region.
Which Hong Kong designers to you have your eye on?
S: We love Melissa Bui for her ornate and luxurious designs. Sarah Lai’s sophisticated and elegant designs are also very much adored by our clients!
Read more on Hong Kong Designers here.
Which are your most popular styles/dresses – and why do you think this is?
S: Our most popular dress is the black/nude tulle dress from a very hot up and coming US designer, Nha Khanh. It’s a stunning mix of delicate black lace and cloud-like tulle, very feminine and sweet – a style that’s favoured by most of our clients.
What has been your biggest challenge working in the fashion industry in Hong Kong?
A: Graphic design is crucial for any fashion e-commerce company, including us! So we have used our website, newsletters and social media to create our brand identity and tell our story. Finding a great graphic designer that understands our art direction is not an easy task though, we’re constantly looking!
Any fashion trends for Spring/Summer 2016 that Sassy Girls should try?
S: For this spring/summer, a white shirt-inspired dress or top is definitely a must-have. Off-the-shoulder is still very hot for this season; and if you are a fashion forward girl, a designer net should for sure be added to your closet. And to complete the look, a half-moon shaped bag is definitely your first choice.
Why do you think renting instead of buying fashion works – specifically in Hong Kong?
A: Our generation values access more than ownership! We use Airbnb to share housing, Uber to share cars, Spotify to share music, and YEECHOO is here to help us share our closet. You shouldn’t only have access to beautiful dresses by owning them. Hong Kong is the perfect place for our business model: women here are fashionable and stylish, and we love dressing up for different occasions. Every weekend, there are dinner parties, galas, charity balls and events, and we love being seen in different looks. Why buy a dress that you’ll only end up wearing once or twice? Last but not least, Hong Kong is so space conscious, so having YEECHOO as your closet cloud helps free up valuable space!
How do you work together as a team – do you have different specialties/areas of focus in the business?
A: It couldn’t be more fun working with each other! This is something I’m grateful for everyday. Our office is constantly filled with laughter and joy, and this is the company culture we are trying to cultivate – we want to work hard in a supporting and fun environment. The reason we can work so smoothly together is that both of us are extremely open about our thoughts, opinions and feelings. We talk about every little aspect of the business and won’t hesitate to challenge each other with different views. As an early stage startup, we have been doing almost everything together, but as the business grows, we’ve started to have some areas of focus while still overseeing the big picture – I focus more on business development side, while Shan Shan is oversees the creative and fashion direction side.
Who are your Top 5 Favourite Designers and why?
S & A:
– Sachin & Babi – bold use of colours and prints over luxurious fabrics – feminine in a stylish way
– Alice + Olivia – we love the young and playful designs that are never boring
– Halston Heritage – their sophisticated yet stylish designs are perfect for strong, independent and cool women
– Self Portrait – definitely one of today’s hottest emerging designers. The signature below-the-knee dress with leaf-patterned guipure lace and lattice embroidery is simply irresistible!
– Marchesa – the go-to brand for luxurious cocktail dresses and evening gowns – we love the intricate craftsmanship and whimsical flourishes
What are you plans for YEECHOO? Where do you see yourselves in 5 years time?
S: We have already started shipping to the Taiwan and Macau markets and will soon open our showrooms in Shanghai and Jakarta… stay tuned!
All photos taken by the oh-so talented Michelle of Michelle Proctor Photography, www.michellejproctor.com