Nov 04, 2016
In 1978, while I was still working in wholesale cosmetics, a friend of mine told me about this shop located in the then President Shopping Centre in Causeway Bay. It was called Sa Sa, and it was a small underground shop of around 40 square feet. My husband and I felt good about the cosmetics business, so we bought it. We kept the name Sa Sa, originally because it was quite expensive to change the business name, but we’re glad we kept it. No matter if you say it in English, Chinese or Japanese, Sa Sa was easy to say and easy to recognise, and people remembered the name quickly. Business was quiet at first and we could barely make the rent. But we didn’t give up and, gradually, we began to build a steady client base who liked that we greeted them by name and gave personalised recommendations.
One of my favourite things to do was also to teach my customers the five-minute, threestep make-up routine. Bright red lipstick was the trend back then, but I deliberately gave my clients a very natural look, using natural colours. A lot of them came back to buy new products after that. But, ultimately, Sa Sa was successful because it was a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. We were a one-stop shop selling all kinds of skincare and cosmetic products. It was before the time of online shopping. You could say we were kind of like a supermarket. Clients could pick and choose at leisure, and we never took a hard sell approach. Even now, with online shopping and more competitors, we stay open-minded and creative. We host a lot of workshops with online influencers. We also have a mobile app, and our staff communicate with clients using WhatsApp and WeChat.
Apart from my business, another thing that is extremely important to me is my work with Po Leung Kuk. I’ve always loved helping others. Even when I was studying in school, I volunteered in my spare time. Working with Po Leung Kuk for the last 11 years has really opened my horizons and taught me to be brave. Of course it’s a lot of hard work being the chairman this year, but I don’t regret the decision at all. Po Leung Kuk has such a rich history and it’s done so much for the community. One of our key events this month is the Hong Kong Rugby Union Ruck ‘n’ Roll Charity Ball. We are so excited about this first ever charity ball to be jointly organised by the Hong Kong Rugby Union Community Foundation. We have been partners with the union for 14 years and we are so grateful for their efforts in helping us reach out to people. The ball is an exciting event. We even have Don Felder from the Eagles playing at the ball.
The aim of the charity ball is to help underprivileged children improve their English-language skills. This year we also have support from the rugby union. There are so many benefits the children can gain from learning rugby. They’ll establish a more positive outlook and they’ll also have the chance to chat with the English coaches. Managing a successful charity is very much like running a successful business, as I’ve found. It’s really about the people. It’s about brainstorming ideas together. It’s about training and preparing people. No matter whether you’re trying to sell a product or grow interest in a cause, you need to put your heart in it and be creative.