CCTV-News / CNTV
creative industry attracts foreign...
October 1, 2012
Chinese creative industry attracts foreign innovators
10-01-2012 17:57 BJT
If you are entrepreneur-minded, China is the place to start a business. But instead of bringing a touch of western life to the urban Chinese population, Dominic Johnson Hill got creative.
He re-packages iconic images of Chinese culture, puts them on T-shirts and sells them to Chinese customers. Lily Lu sits down with him to discover the journey of this unique Beijing T-shirt brand, founded by a born and bred British.
From an old fashioned bus stop to a cheeky play on Beijing dialect, T-shirt designs like this can make you look twice.
Founder of Plastered 8 T-shirts, Dominic Johnson Hill says what he puts on his shirts are images that either conjure memories of the past or give people a hearty laugh. And the idea is so simple, he just wants to spread his own impression and love of Beijing not just on T-shirts, but also his collection of nostalgic collectibles.
19 years ago, Dominic arrived in China as a backpacker. He fell in love with the people here, and saw huge business opportunities as the Chinese economy was opening up. The question is why T-shirts?
Dominic Johnson Hill, Founder, Plastered 8, said, O"What happened is, the first T-shirt I bought in 1993 was a Great Wall. Twelve years later, a tourist worn the same T-shirt. There’s no development in T-shirts. I’ll start a T-shirt brand to celebrate China. "
In 2006, he opened a small T-shirt shop in Nanluoguxiang, one of Beijing’s most ancient Hutongs, where he also lived.
Kang Shulan,Plastered 8 Sales, said, "I was his first employee. He he hired five sales girls before me, but none of them were reliable, one of them even took away with all the money in shop. He was my neighbour, so I said yes when he asked for my help."
Dominic Johnson Hill, said, "Poeple thought I was crazy. But I think with every new idea a good sign is ppl don’t like it. How you’ll make money selling T-shirts. Courageous, not let your dreams be focused. I just went for it. " "Very first design was a Pikini Woman, plastered her on the design. Why did I do that? In China, many restaurant you see plastered everywhere. Simple form of design."
His first design was actually the least successful, but it was the start of a new journey. This is one of his latest designs. Inspired by the stained glass windows in a church, and incorporating with the image of a Chinese hero.
Dominic Johnson Hill, said, "300 USD to make the first piece, 1200 USD selling. Became a T design later. It takes someone from the outside to see what is beautiful around you. "
For Dominic, creativity is second nature. When the business started, he didn’t have money to do marketing and had to go creative by leveraging the local community. He invited the community fan dancing group, all made up of middle-aged local women, to dance in front of his shops to create a buzz. And in terms of customer relations, he also has own way of handling things.
Dominic Johnson Hill, said, "Anyone complains, I take them out for lunch. Someone send a msg on twitter saying you should have different designs. I take him out for lunch. You have a customer has opinions, these are the ppl you listen to. " "Customer, 18-22 yr old Chinese. To sustain a brand in China is to have Chinese customers."
" A 30-square meter space T-shirt remains major product, but they’ve gone further. Here we can see wallets, purses, coasters, key chains. "
Other than having more diversed products, Plastered 8 has gone online. Besides its own website, it’s opened a shop on T-mall, the top e-commerce platform in China. And it’s a new challenge for Dominic.
Dominic Johnson Hill, said, "It is right now our biggest growth area. Right now it’s 15%-20%, a year ago it’s 5%. Get creative on websites. Find ways to get ppl into the online store. It’s a whole new business, a whole new start-up."
A few allies away from the shop, in a quiet shared courtyard, the office of Plastered 8. Dominic thinks this place is conducive to creative work
With eight staff members including two designers, Plastered 8 has gone from a family shop to a small company. It purchases materials from nearby provinces, and uses three factories in Beijing for production.
Dominic and his T-shirt brand are becoming more and more well known. He is often invited on TV shows or to lecture for students.
Luan Huan, Customer, said, "I like what he says on TV. I’ve been here three times, and today I’m so lucky to meet him."
Just when we were in the shop, a group of MBA students from Australia arrive.
Tom Hlt, MBA Student, Australia, said, "We’re interested in coming here to see this because he’s got quite an entrepreneurship and also about how successful he’s been in a market like Beijing and China."
Dominic certainly has a lot to share with these young people. He says it makes him feel good when he knows he can inspire them to think creatively.
Ding Xiaohe, Designer, Plastered 8, said, "I’m the youngest and newest member of Plastered 8. The old things Dominic collects, some of them were made even before I was born. I’m greatly inspired by them."
The unique business idea also inspires others in the creative industry. Mao Chao, a young Chinese who runs his own creativity company shares his thoughts.
Ma Chao, Chief Rep., One Show China, said, "The future of China’s creative industry is to make everyday products creative. So for a company like Plastered 8 that focuses on specific ’creative products’, if it doesn’t go big, it can probably become a contract designer under a big franchise brand. "
But Dominic has his own ideas about the future of his business.
Dominic Johnson Hill, said, "I’m not a greedy man, create a small giant. Keep the two physical stores always changing, slogan "in a constant state of revolution". Small business, I’d gone bankrupt by now if I had 100 stores."
"I would say I’m a very nice bloke."
This really nice bloke rides off home to his wife and four daughters, after another busy working day. And we know one thing for sure - he’ll come up with a new idea the next morning.
CCTV-News / CNTV
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