While Eva Chiu and Calvin Sun had clear ideas about what they wanted to be, Tang Wai-ling has become an entrepreneur almost by accident.
Tang has been working as an engineer since she completed her degree in Civil Engineering in the United Kingdom. But she is also the creative director of Déjà vu Creation, a social enterprise that uses abandoned banners to make handbags.
“If it was not for Sue inviting me to start a business together, I would never have thought about starting my own business,” she says recalling an ordinary day in March this year, when her friend called and asked her to be a partner.
It was Tang’s friend Sue Wong Ming-wai who developed the idea of “up-cycling” unwanted materials. They do not call their business “recycling” because that might indicate they were making new banners from old banners.
Instead, they create one of a kind handbags and accessories. Their up-cycling concept brought the partners the Best Social Mission Award in the Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge held by The Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Being an engineer is boring,” says Tang. “I don’t want to do the same job until I am 50 or 60 years old. That is why I looked for a new job.”
Meanwhile, she recognises the comfort of being employed. “The tasks I have to do and the things I get from the job are predictable and stable,” she says.
The business had yet to make any profit eight months after it was started but Tang is in no hurry yet. For now, she is enjoying the fun of designing unique products. Being directly responsible for sales brings her a new source of satisfaction, which she rarely feels as an engineer working for somebody else.
“Indeed, right now is a turning point in my life,” says Tang. She now spends her weekends on the social business while maintaining her full-time engineering job. She plans to be a full-time entrepreneur in one or two years