Monthly Archives: June 2014


Noodles are so synonymous with Hong Kong and what better way to enjoy them than to cook your own. Head to Kang Kee Noodles Ltd, G/F 4 Tai Wo Street, Wan Chai, for a fresh and wholesome selection. They really understand flavours and they get it right. Abalone, scallop, shrimp, fish, buckwheat, spinach and sesame are just some of what is on offer. Apparently the egg ones are best for frying. They also have fresh dumpling skins which you can use with our own recipe here. For delicious noodles and dumplings on the go head to Mak’s Noodle, G/ F 77 Wellington Street, Central, or Tsim Chai Kee Noodle, 98 Wellington Street, Central. Every time I go there after midday there’s a queue, so mornings are best to beat the rush. 


Around and about Tai Ping Shan Street

Just a minute walk off Hollywood Road heading up the hill are Tai Ping Shan Street and Sai Street in Sheung Wan.  Sin Sin Man’s atelier and fine art gallery space, 52 Sai Street, Sheung Wan, has some of the most covetable jewellery, both contemporary and historical – she is considered a pioneer of this bustling area.  Her exhibition space is located right opposite her boutique and always has great installations and things going on.

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A new section on the home page celebrates the lives and careers of expatriates living in Asia. A series of interviews will detail the lifestyles and work of people living away from their homes who have become known for their style, from fashion designers and artists, to others founding successful businesses. The first interview is with Melbourne-born owner of Authentiques, Kate Davies. Kate has lived in Hong Kong for over 17 years – she came in the late-90s to work as a television reporter before moving into the finance sector – and even though she still consults, her main focus is planning and carefully considering the beautiful 18th and 19th century antiques she imports from the United Kingdom and Europe. There is an exquisite sofa upholstered in blue Italian velvet, circa 1910, at her atelier in Sheung Wan, Central  which Stylebrief is currently coveting – the arms and back lift off, making it a perfect bed for a guest room. Read on at The Expats…

Where are you from originally?
Born and bred in Melbourne, Australia.

How long have you lived in Hong Kong?
Seventeen fast years, since 1997.

What were you doing that brought you to HK?
I was a TV news reporter with the Seven Network in Melbourne. I knew Melbourne like the back of my hand and wanted to spread my wings and live in another city. I flew home from a European holiday via Hong Kong and fell in love with Hong Kong’s energy. I asked Seven if they could send me to Hong Kong to report on the Handover of Hong Kong in 1997 but they wouldn’t commit and always sent men on the overseas stories so I thought it was best I didn’t wait around to be rejected and miss out all together so I left and moved on my own to Hong Kong and started working with the Nine Network’s bureau in Hong Kong, plus I called in to a radio station 3AW with updates of the imminent Handover and the changes that were taking place in preparation, like the red post office letter boxes with the Queen’s emblem being replaced by plain Hong Kong ones, the “royal” being removed from the titles of clubs and associations, their signs were taken down and replaced. It was an amazing experience to see the Queen’s Yacht Britannia set sail from Victoria Harbour with Prince Charles on board, collecting the Governor, Chris Patten and his wife and daughters. Thinking about it gives me the tingles. After that I switched in to public relations and then moved in-house to ABN Amro to run their events and marketing team.

Why Authentiques now?
In my thirteenth year in banking/equities the business I was with, Samsung Securities, was shut-down. Two years earlier my husband Steve died unexpectedly when our daughter was only ten months old. The abrupt end to my job gave me a chance to sit back and look at my life and reassess my options. The banking world was in a downward spiral, people were working harder for less reward and I wanted to see if I could step back from it and find another business that allowed me to travel less, see my daughter daily and have the flexibility to juggle my responsibilities better. I noticed that there were no European antiques available in Hong Kong and was reading that the Chinese in China had an increasing interest in them. I grew up with parents who bought antiques and mixed them well with contemporary art and furniture and felt comfortable with my level of knowledge, enough to look in to it as a commercial business idea. I opened the doors in July 2013.

What were the challenges?
There were plenty. I had never run a small business before so I have had to surround myself with very good advisors. I have a business coach who firstly was given the task of keeping me from taking tempting roles in other banks. Giving up a salary was hard, I had become very institutionalized so every time I put my hand in my pocket, I think more than twice. My priorities changed, we go without certain luxuries but I have gained the luxury of freedom to explore on so many levels. Staying positive was another challenge in the first year and my coach has helped me there too, showing me that I am fulfilling my objectives which are very different to those of many of my friends and competitors. I bought in to a block of time that is a highly formative period of my daughter’s life (she is now five) so as well as building a business, I am also supporting her growth and trying to be the best role model I can as a single mother and that’s a constant work in progress. I have an investor as well who I have worked with for ten years. She is very supportive so I can bounce ideas around and know that the advice is sound and sensible.

What was one piece of advice someone gave you that really inspired you to open Authentiques?
Choose something that is scalable without adding much to your cost centre. Selling more furniture doesn’t mean we need to add more staff, it requires better systems, suppliers and organization but not salaries and the HR issues that staff bring. In comparison, opening a restaurant or setting up a consulting company on the other hand requires a team of staff and if that business grows bigger, more staff must be hired, and if the business gets smaller or goes through quiet patches, those staff still need to be paid or let go. I didn’t want to rely on an in-house team. I like shopping around for the best supplier at the time within my budget whether it be the buyers sourcing pieces for the business in Europe or the web designer. There is a lot of freedom in the business model to change as we learn more about the market.

What has been the highlight since opening Authentiques?
Buying the furniture in England and Belgium was a rush. Going from dealer to dealer, learning so much more and being surrounded by shedloads of the most beautiful furniture I have ever seen was like a dream. I met wonderful people who have vast knowledge to pass on to future generations. Antique furniture is very practical. Every piece had a purpose so there are wonderful stories and visuals surrounding each piece. The entire experience has reactivated a creative spirit in me and I get a lot of personal reward from that regularly. Essentially we are all creative but often we repress the need to express ourselves. Facebook and Instagram are two amazing examples of how creative the world is. Everyday people posting phenomenal pictures and observations. We are learning so much more about our friends and other people by what they notice and post.

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I am currently obsessed with amber again. I love the way it looks with denim. I remember discovering it when I was backpacking around Europe in the late 80’s in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. I was recently cleaning out my jewellery and re-discovered some of my amber but realised you need a few pieces to make it work. One lonely string just doesn’t look right. When wearing beads I think you have to layer and have at least three different lengths of the same one around your neck. The wrong beads can ruin any outfit so you have to be careful with how you wear them. You don’t want to end up looking like you have off-loaded your entire jewellery box to around your neck and it’s your first outing for the year. For amber we suggest you head to Pak Kwok Hung’s shop, 428, Jade Market, Yaumatei, Kowloon. He really does have some lovely pieces. You have to remember to use your bargaining tools. I always love this about the Jade Market in Hong Kong. Remember less is more does not apply to amber. 


Louella Odié

Louella Odié by mother and daughter design team Karen and Lauren Mead, is fast becoming known for its artworks and other lovely products to swoon over. Hong Kong-born Karen is a trained print-maker and her collection of lithographs are sublime. Everything is done by hand and there is always an ‘East-meets-West’ twist in her work. Her floral lithograph that hangs in her workshop is a constant on my wish-list. Karen studied her craft in Britain; daughter Lauren started in fashion branding, and was working for UK label Jack Wills before she went into business with her mother. Now based on Hong Kong’s Lamma Island, the pair has certainly come full circle, and neither could imagine working with anyone else. A ride over to their atelier and workshop is guaranteed to produce delight at their interesting body of work.  

Why Louella Odié? 

Karen: As an artist I am never going to stop making my personal work, but I have to be realistic about finding an outlet for it. I recognised within my work there was a commercial element and I’ve chosen to develop that into Louella Odié.

Lauren: I’ve always wanted to work for myself, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. 

How did the name Louella Odié come about?

Karen: On the first day I met someone who is now one of my very good friends, she said I didn’t look like a ‘Karen’ and named me ‘Louella’ instead. The name stuck with a large group of my UK friends and I have been Louella ever since. Odié is my mother’s maiden name and as we have a history of creative women in the family we wanted to reflect it in our business name. 

Some of the things you might do in a day?

Karen: I try to make sure I draw every day, even if it is just a quick sketch or a scribble. Drawing calms me down. I often spend an entire day working on a print, but could just as easily be found walking around Sham Shui Po looking for fittings for bags. I also teach classes at the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, so once a week I am with my students in the studio there. 

Lauren: Louelle Odié is a small company, so every day is different for me. Some days I spend locked on my computer organising things for a big trade fair we are going to in September. Other days I spend walking around meeting retailers, or – my favorite – meeting bloggers who we can collaborate with!

Describe your style?

Karen: I have no clear idea what my style is, but I am always drawn to extremes, even though I don’t go that far myself. I admire people whose style is decidedly quirky, such as Charlotte Olympia or Lulu Guinness. 

Lauren: I now live and work on Lamma Island which has meant a change in style. Gone are the high heels, jackets and pencil skirts, suddenly I am channeling laid-back resort wear that is perfect for island living. 

Can you name your three best traits?

Lauren: We’ve decided to pick for each other (so clearly, trust is one trait we share). So, for Mum, I think her three best traits are her intuitive nature. Mum often picks up on body language, colour trends and subtle clues that come from her ability to be permanently observant, even when she isn’t consciously aware she is doing it. Secondly her sense of the ridiculous – Mum can always see a disgusting joke in everything. Finally it goes without saying that Mum is creative, but more specifically her creative problem solving abilities are key to our business. She can create something out of nothing and see solutions I would never spot. 

Karen: You soon realise when you meet Lauren how driven she is, to the extent that you wouldn’t stand in front of her for very long because you’d get squashed. She is organised and makes paperwork and all the stuff I hate look easy, but she has a great sense of fun and I love to see her dissolve into giggles. 

Who or what inspires you?

Karen: I get visual inspiration from everything around me, but in Hong Kong I particularly like the juxtaposition of the man-made and the natural. 

Lauren: I have a number of business women I look up to and am inspired by. This would include Stacey Bendet, the founder of Alice and Olivia, for her own driven nature and her ability to beat to her own drum in terns of style. I would also include Tamara Mellon and Tory Burch on my would-like-to-meet-list. 


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