All entries for Friday 27 February 2015

February 27, 2015

Interview with the Funder of China House

Writing about web page

Interviewer: YIXIU & FATIN


About China House

China House is the first Chinese-initiated social enterprise in Africafocusingon China-Africa engagement. It is a platform to bring young Chinese to Africa to study and improve the sustainable development of Chinese overseas engagement.Weresearch on Chinese overseas investment and relatedsocial environmentalconflicts, help Chinese companies design Corporate Social Responsibility programs and develop sustainable business strategy, and engage in addressing social environmental challenges of China-Africa relationship through the action ofyouth.

Their Service

Corporate Social Responsibility / Impact Investment Consulting / CSR Case Studies – Africa Tech Challenge (ATC)

Feasibility Analysis and Program Design / Event Coordination and Execution

Media Promotion and Corporate Image Marketing

Investment Research Reports

What was your biggest motivation when you started your business?

I have been focusing on “China Going Out” project since 2011 and I witnessed the growing interest in this area with limited existence. Therefore I decided to develop this idea from a personal interest to an actual organisation, calling out to more Chinese youth to contribute to this meaningful and interesting career in Africa. This is how my idea gradually became the organisation China House.

How did you find like-minded people to be part of your business?

It is still one of our main challenges till today. As a founder my recent partners are mostly through the networking I did during my university days in Columbia. Nowadays we tend to attract like-minded people from social media platforms at first, then we would choose through tests and interviews. However, the process of building a good partnership or dealing with new business partners still takes a lot of time.

Were your family and friends supportive of your career choice?

They are quite supportive. Especially my mom. She knows that I am happy about my choice and I learn a lot from this career. I feel thankful.

You mentioned that there were mistakes in certain programmes that you run (eg Chinese African Youth Leader Project)? What kind of damage control steps did you take ? How did you manage that situation?

Yes, we used the UNDP logo without their permission in the Chinese African Youth Leader Project. There were misunderstandings so we explain and apologised to them and also to the public right after it happened. More importantly, we learnt from our mistake and made sure that these mistakes would not happen again within our organization.

How do you profit in the future from a business that is driven by a social cause?

In the future, we will cooperate with different international organisations and try our best to get funding for our research and projects. Also, we plan to offer Chinese youth, especially those who want to study abroad a chance to take part in our programmes in Africa. That could help them enrich their background knowledge for their academic applications and we charge them for our service. In the long run, we aim to provide services for Chinese enterprises in Africa through building partnerships and doing research, which takes years to happen, locally and internationally.

Did culture differences come in the way of business negotiation? How do you deal with the cultural differences when you run your programmes?

We are like a bridge between China and Africa, therefore it is impossible for us to avoid all these cultural differences between Chinese communities and African culture. Honestly we get misunderstandingS from both sides: Chinese thinks that we are on the side of the foreigners while African thinks that we speak for the Chinese government and try to benefit from them. I actually saw it coming and I was totally prepared for all these misunderstandings. It helps me stay positive and work hard to solve these problems. It is the only way to make the others understand more about what we are doing: be patient, make dialogue and communicate.

What would you say is the most important element to be a successful entrepreneur?

Having a clear and long-term goal is the most important thing to me. It helps me to not stray from what I wanted to achieve from the beginning. At the same time, I feel that it is important to be nimble so that I can change my strategy at any time in order to meet my goals.

Interview with a Fashion Entrepreneur

Writing about web page


Interviewee: Audrey

?/2014 ~ Now. Entrepreneur and Creative Director of FELDT - UK

07/2011 ~ 10/2014. Head Designer of YMC - You Must Create - UK

Interviewer: Henry Hyunjun Noh

1. What factors motivated you to become a cultural entrepreneur?

I was quite unhappy at my previous job, and felt like I did not get the opportunity to be as creative as I craved. So it came kind of from a feeling that I just had to get my ideas out there. Not being able to find the clothes that I wanted and knew that other women felt the same way, made me feel really excited and secure to test the waters with my ideas/designs.

2. Were there any reasons in terms of changing your career from a hired professional designer of well-known company to an entrepreneur?

Quite a bit the same as above, but also that I value the thought of being able to travel anywhere at anytime and being able to work from there if so needed. Being my own boss, and making my own decisions is a really empowered feeling. Basically I felt that if the people I was working with/for diddn’t give me the empowerment, creativity , and freedom that I wanted than I was to make it happen for myself.

3. Where does your inspirations come from in the process of designing the products?

The inspiration for our collections comes a lot from basically taking in everything around you on a daily basis. As our brand is meant to be everyday clothing for all seasons, it is important that they work in an everyday basis. From walking the dog, to going to the pub. It is style without sacrificing comfort, and vice versa. The people around me are what inspires the most, I want all the women I know to be able to find something in the collection that they get excited about and can identify themselves with in one way or another. Different artist paintings can inspire to prints and to colours of the collection. Personally I am really inspired by fabrics, for me it all starts with the fabric sourcing. With finding fabrics that inspire me I can start seeing them in different types of styles/garments.

4. What are the opportunities do you think the UK fashion industry has in terms of start-ups?

We haven’t looked into that as much as we should, or will be doing now as we have expanded really quite quickly. I heard that new brands don’t usually sell until the 4th season. But we have sold since our last season, our very first season. And have now expanded quite a bit, so there has really been no time to look into financial opportunities that the UK offer. But we for sure will. One thing that I think is great at least about London, is that everything is around the corner. From cultural inspirations/experiences to fabric agents. We have been very lucky to have been paired up with a great PR and sales agency which of course puts us in front of peoples noses who would have maybe taken longer to notice us otherwise.

5. What are the challenges regarding running the small creative organisation?

The biggest challenges are being able to full fill the minimums for fabrics, and for manufacturing. As being a start up the orders are in smaller quantities. So to be able to buy the fabrics, and pay for manufacturing there is always a surcharge % which increases the cost drastically. Which than brings down the profit drastically. But that is also the part of seeing it as an investment, seeing that a few seasons/years down the line when we hit the minimums our profits will of course than be higher. In the fashion industry you need to always pay everything in advance. As the brand/company you need to pay for fabrics and for manufacturing before receiving payment from the clients/shops. So that is the biggest struggle being a start up, is to actually have the finances to produce after demand.

6. Any advice to the provisional entrepreneurs studying Cultural Entrepreneurship at the University of Warwick?

The best thing that I have noticed for me personally, is that I am extremely happy that I had years of experience in the industry before starting my own company. The experience of working/meeting different people. I have had the privilege to work with different types and sizes of companies to which have no doubt helped me understand things within a company that I wouldn’t have had the chance to get to know had it been otherwise. My recommendation would be to get experience in the field that you would like to start a company in, get to meet people, create contacts. And than always stick to your intuition. Don’t get caught up in what the consumer wants you to do, always stick to your thoughts and what you think is right to keep it true to what you had in mind. I truly believe that is the ticket to making it a success. I am myself struggling with not hearing what buyers for shops have to say, but it is for sure worth working hard to stick to your thoughts and intuitions.

Interview with Emir Cerman from Berklee College of Music

Sorry for the short Turkish speech in the beginning, it was for notifying Emir that I would convert to English at that moment!

This is a Skype interview I made with Emir Cerman, a Turkish musician and an extreme entrepreneur who got in to Berklee College of Music several years ago and has been the reason behind Berklee's action towards opening auditions in Turkey as well. He used to be my guest on my previous radio show back in Istanbul when I was studying my BA degree at Bilgi University and I was struck by his ultimate extraversion, confidence and commitment to who he is doing. He has been leading a creative project called "the Rhythm of the Universe" at Berklee College of Music

Enjoy it!

February 2015

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  • Thanks to Olivia and Oscar for posting this some great questions and food for thought here. by Ruth Leary on this entry

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