June 28, 2013

My Last Day

Today was my last day at my office job. I feel excited, relieved and, above all, motivated. Excited about moving forward, relieved of some pressure, and motivated for my new project.
My lovely online shop is doing well, and I think the timing to leave my full-time job and start focusing exclusively on my shop is just the right one. When I quit my job on May 31, my store was only a week old, so it took a lot of courage to present my resignation letter at the time. One thing I knew for sure was this is my dream, and I have to pursue it no matter the risks. Besides, because of my company's one month notice policy, I still had to spend a long month in the job after I resigned, so I'm glad I did it early so that now that I feel I can make a living out of my shop, I am free do focus entirely on it. This month didn't go by fast, but THE day eventually arrived, and I finally said bye to what has been my life for the past year and a half. 

To celebrate this new stage of my life, J and I are going on a trip to Osaka, Japan, tomorrow until Tuesday. It's been four years since I last went to Japan, so this is something I've been really looking forward to! Besides, we want to have a baby next year and I read it's not entirely safe to travel to Japan when you're pregnant because of the radiation, so it was now or never! 

If you purchase at my shop during these 4 days, please note that I will ship your order on Wednesday when we're back, as I already mentioned on Frill Me's blog. I might also take longer than usual to reply to any enquiries on facebook or info{at}shopfrillme.com.

As usual, you can follow my instagram or my facebook page to see what I'm up to in Japan. Have a lovely weekend, or an even nicer long weekend for all Hong Kongers :)

June 26, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: More from my bachelorette party because...

Today I wanted to post these unpublished pictures of my amazing bachelorette party because... my dear friend and bridesmaid-to-be, Eva, just gave birth to her first son last Saturday! Now with this said, this is more of a Motherhood Monday post than a Wedding Wednesday one, but here it goes anyway :) 

Eva is the first of my closest friends since childhood to become a mom, and I'm beyond touched by her new mama happiness. I can't wait to meet the little in my wedding three months from now!

The first "baby-shock" of my life was five years ago, when my cousin, who is two years older than me, gave birth to her first daughter. I remember waiting in the hospital hallway for a long time for her to come out of the labour room and, when she finally did, I burst out in tears and couldn't stop for like 10 minutes! It was the first time someone so dear to me became a mom and it was more than emotional me could bear with. Have you ever shed tears of joy like that? Words cannot describe!

June 24, 2013

Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong

Yesterday was high tea day again for me! I went for afternoon tea at the InterContinental Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui with Chloris, my maid-of-honor-to-be in my Hong Kong wedding. I had only ever dinned here once and it was long time ago, back in 2009 for the Valentine's Day buffet lunch! The views from this hotel are magnificent. It occupies a very privileged location right next to the harbour next to the Stars Avenue, overlooking Hong Kong Island in an impressive way. It's one of the best places to spend New Year's Eve if you want to have a good view of the countdown fireworks! Not that I'll complain about my amazing views from the boat this last New Year's Eve!

Back to the InterContinental, the afternoon tea is served from 2pm to 5pm at the Lobby, and there is no reservation. I don't really get why venues like the InterContinental or the Peninsula don't accept bookings for afternoon tea. It is SO frustrating to queue up for tea, when tea is supposed to be a relaxing afternoon experience! Anyway, this time I didn't have to queue at all, in fact, I arrived at 1.45, and was the first to be seated at 1.50. Ha! Here is my personal tip how not having to line up!!!

I got to the Lobby Lounge at 1.43pm, ready to queue up for the 2pm tea. To my astonishment, there were about 10 couples in front of the restaurant, but none of them was really queuing, just standing there without any order whatsoever. I asked the front door waitress about the afternoon tea, and she said the queue didn't start yet, and asked me to take a seat on the Lobby sofas. {Don't go! That's too far away and by the time the queue starts, you'll be the last one in the row!} I ignored her and stayed VERY close to the door, more than the rest of the couples. Then after a couple minutes a waiter came out with two sticks and a rope and asked us to queue on the right-hand side for afternoon tea. Well, guess what, I jumped in for the first spot! Haha. And that's how it's done, my friends ;) 

The most important in any case is to get there around 1.45pm. After 2.30pm the line is CRAZY and, trust me, you don't want to line up for this afternoon tea, because people come here to relax and spend the whole afternoon, so you can end up queuing for a VERY long time...

So since we were the first in line, they allowed us to seat about 10 minutes before 2 o'clock, in a gorgeous table for 6 people {all for ourselves!} overlooking the harbour. I made a video on instagram, you can't miss it!

The scones come in a basket to keep them warm!

The InterContinental has three afternoon tea sets to choose from: the Champagne Set, the InterContinental Afternoon Tea set, and the Chinese Set. We went for the InterContinental one, which is the classic afternoon tea, with scones, savory bites and petit fours. Food wise, I'd say it was a 4*, because the scones were not that good, and the rest was good but could be better. Overall though, I was really satisfied because the atmosphere is really good with these nice views and live music! I also loved the fact that there was a very good Mariage Frères tea selection, and that the tea pots were from Le Creuset, so chic!

Me holding a complimentary strawberry shake they gave us

Visited on: June 23, 2013
Overall Quality: 4* (venue is great; tea selection is superb; no reservation is a minus; and food is good but not the best)
Price: HK$568 + 10% service charge for the InterContinental Afternoon Tea Set for two
Value for Money: 4*
Would I recommend it? If you don't mind spending more than HK$600 for an afternoon tea set, then go and give it a try, because the venue is all worth it. Food wise though, there's better choices in town for this price! Check out my favorite one

June 19, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Guangzhou's Wedding Street

Here is a post I know a lot of you have been waiting for: the wedding street in Guangzhou. Ever since I first talked about the hidden gem, I've received many comments, emails and facebook messages asking for more information. This is indeed precious info, as the majority of the most renowned wedding gown brands produce their dresses in China, so here you're bound to find real beauties with prices slashed by more than a half from what they would cost in Europe.

Even though its name is Wedding Street, the truth is this is far more than a street. It's a whole area, with several streets and shopping malls, all of them exclusively selling wedding gowns. You'll find some small shops selling bridal accessories, too, like wedding shoes, accessories, fabric flowers or clothes for the flower girls/boys.
The name of the biggest street, the one that is usually referred to as wedding street, is Jiangnan Avenue North (江南大道北), so now you know what to look for in the map! One thing I can tell you, if you come here, there is NO WAY you're leaving without finding a dress you like. There are just so many shops, it's basically impossible not to find a match. There are some cheap dresses that would probably not be up to European / US standards but, believe me, there's also the high quality, stylish, gorgeous ones!
To get to Guangzhou from Hong Kong by public transport, you have at least 3 options:
1. Take the MTR intercity through train at Hung Hom, which takes you directly to Guangzhou East Railway Station in a bit less than 2 hours.
2. Take a bus to Guangzhou (around 3 hours). There are several stops in Hong Kong, I have never taken the bus because I think the train is more convenient but the good thing about the bus is once in Guangzhou, there's a stop right next to the wedding street: 海珠广场. From here you just need to cross the bridge and you're already in the wedding street!
3. Take the East Rail Train to Luo Hu (羅湖)  (Shenzhen), and change to the Shenzhen-Guangzhou train there (also departing from Luo Hu station, and arriving at Guangzhou East) (around 80 min.).

Once in Guangzhou take the subway to station 市二宮站 (The 2nd Workers' Cultural Palace) on the blue line, or ask the taxi driver to take you there by mentioning you're going to the wedding street, he'll know :) Once in 市二宮站, take exit D and tadaaaaaaa hundreds of wedding dress shops will appear in front of you. It's not a dream, it's real, the highest density of wedding dress retail shops in the world! Wedding dresses prices range from CNY500 to CNY4000, (50-500€), (US$80-650), or slightly higher for the best boutiques. You can bargain in most of the shops, so don't buy without trying to get a discount first!


June 16, 2013

Afternoon tea at Portal - Langham Place Hotel

Tomorrow set

We've been to the Langham Place Hotel in Mong Kok today for afernoon tea. I hadn't been to afternoon tea for quite a while now! The afternoon tea at the Langham Place Hotel is served at Portal, on the 5th floor, a modern bar perfect for working with your laptop while having a cup of coffee. I didn't like this kind of atmosphere for afternoon tea, as I prefer more classic or cute venues.

The special thing at the Langham Place Hotel is there are four afternoon tea sets to choose from! These sets are: Forever, Sinful, Tomorrow and East. We ordered the Tomorrow set but upon arrival of the set to our table, we asked to change to Forever, since we were quite hungry and the Tomorrow set consisted of really tiny stuff!

Forever set

The Forever set was overall a disappointment. The best thing were the scones {3 plain and 3 raisin}, then the sandwiches were not really good, and same goes for the sweet petit fours on top. J told me I had to take price into consideration too, meaning that at HK$316 this is a cheap high tea set, but the truth is there's other tea sets out there for about the same price that are way better, like the one at Le Gouter Bernardaud, LGB

We had a nice and relaxing afternoon, but I wouldn't really recommend coming here for afternoon tea! Their food is just not worth it.

Overall Quality: 2.5*
Price: HK$288 + 10% service charge
Value for Money: 2.5*
Would I recommend it? Portal is a nice place to sit for a while and enjoy a cup of coffee, but I wouldn't recommend their afternoon tea set.

June 13, 2013

Beach Please

So... it's already Thursday! That means I missed my Wedding Wednesday post yesterday awww :( Well, don't worry I didn't have much to say this week! Yesterday was a public holiday in Hong Kong but that doesn't mean I got to rest! I had a 10-hour shooting for a tv commercial... I'm exhausted!

This post is kinda overdue too, it's from two weekends ago when J and I went to Long Ke Beach in Sai Kung! As I mentioned when I first blogged about it, I think it's the best beach in Hong Kong, so perfect, so calm, so clean! I was wearing this nice one-shoulder ruffled swimsuit from my fashion and accessories shop, Frill Me. I love it, the quality is great and it fits my body so well :)

To get to Long Ke beach you need to walk around 20 minutes, but the whole journey is perfect, overlooking the beach from the mountain... Just priceless.

June 8, 2013

Miniature Hong Kong in Telford Plaza

The Pawn in Wan Chai

Telford Plaza in Kowloon Bay is having an amazing exhibition going on these days. Iconic stores and places from Hong Kong are being displayed in mini size! An awesome way to get to know more about Hong Kong by looking at its miniature landmarks. All the places are real and exist currently or existed before, and each construction has a tag with the name of the store/place. I loved it! Some residential constructions do really seem doll houses, so pretty! Expect to find stores, restaurants, houses, a hospital, a cinema, a pig slaughterhouse, and iconic places like The Pawn in Wan Chai! 
I work in Kowloon Bay and had never seen a better exhibition in Telford Plaza, so this week I asked J to come pick me up and take a look together while snapping some pics to share it with all of you! Then this morning TVB (Hong Kong's main TV station) was talking about it, so I expect Telford to be crowded this weekend :) Take a look and discover this amazing city that is Hong Kong...

Chinese Jewelry store

Dim Sum Restaurant

Western Bakery

Lovely Easter party

Western bakery

Chicken stall at the street market

Worship products store

Chinese pharmacy
The hospital, where someone is trying to steal a baby, that was a bit creepy -.-'

Cage houses in Hong Kong... This is a side from Hong Kong you probably didn't know about. Hong Kong real estate is one of the most expensive in the world, and some people can't afford anything else than these cages...

Cage house. Only one person fits in it.

Pig slaughterhouse

One of my favorites! The place to hit bad people heheh A very old Chinese tradition, you bring the pic of your enemies to these people and they will hit them and wish them bad luck xD

And this is me next to Antique Patisserie! I've actually been to this place and blogged about it, it has one of my favorite afternoon tea sets in town! :)

June 7, 2013

I'm loving my cute iPhone!

You have no idea how in love I am with my iPhone at the moment  

It had never looked so great!!! All thanks to the cute products from my online store Frill Me: the baby pink blossom case for iPhone4 and the blue bow anti-dust plug. Isn't it just lovely? Aww! ^^

Go take a look at my store, and remember we have a worldwide free shipping promo going on until June 15! :)

June 6, 2013

The inspiring successful story of an e-commerce business based in Hong Kong

Two days ago I had dinner with Aurora, a lovely Spanish girl living in Hong Kong who contacted me after coming across my blog. It was a delightful dinner, for she is a very interesting person, and we had much in common. She has been working in the e-commerce field for a long time, so you bet we had much to talk about! One of the most interesting things I learned from her was the story of a successful online shop based in Hong Kong and targeting Europe/US, basically the same business idea as my new online store Frill Me.

This online store is Modes4u, currently specialising in cute stationery from Japan. It was founded in Hong Kong in 2007 by Sandra, an Austrian girl who had very clear she wanted her own business. Basically she started sourcing fashion and accessories from Asia (Thailand, China, Japan), and sold them on her online store as well as eBay. After a while, and when she got a clearer idea of the market needs, she started specialising in cute Japanese items exclusively, and she soon became an official wholesaler for the San-X products (brands such as Rilakkuma) for the European and North-American markets, and then evolved her business from there. You can take a look at her blog, which has been up since 2008, and offers a good view on the whole business process since she set up the company until currently, when she has her own office with warehouse/showroom and about 10 people working for her, including her husband! That's the best part because this is exactly what J and I would love to do, working together in our own business! My parents do the same thing and are really successful so I have no doubt that we will eventually get there as well :)

Sandra, if you happen to read this, know that I'd love to meet up and get to actually know you! You have a fan here :)

PS. Aurora and I will be at the Spanish Chamber's Happy Hour at View 62 by Paco Roncero in Wan Chai tonight from 7pm to 9pm. Do come say hi if you happen to be around!

June 5, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: The truth about my wedding dress

This might be one of the most shocking posts I've ever written, maybe even more than the one in which I announced I quit my job. This is the truth of what happened in Guangzhou this last Sunday, when I went to do the first fitting of my wedding gown. No one knows about this, {except for J, his parents and my parents}, so even my best friends will find out by reading this... 

I was SO excited to finally have the first fitting of my dress this last weekend. The wedding gown is one of the most important things for the bride on her big day, and I was all over the moon about finally trying THE dress on.

We arrived to the store right after lunch and our sales assistant greeted us enthusiastically. Last time we had been there she kept saying how perfect I looked on that dress, and taking pictures of me in it, really crazy haha, anyways, she was really into it because she didn't do the same thing for the other clients, so it was all really from her heart. So there I was, ready to try MY dress, the one that had been tailor-made from a small size to fit my even smaller body. I changed to my nude bra, put my wedding shoes on and... finally tried the wedding gown! {As I mentioned previously, we are doing the dress search thing Chinese style, that means bride and groom go to choose the dress together, unlike Western tradition where the groom doesn't see the bride on her wedding dress until the big day.} So I went out of the changing room to take a better look in the big mirror, and to let J see. At that moment, I wanted to cry. And those were not excitement tears, touched by the magic of the moment or anything like that. I JUST DIDN'T LIKE THE DRESS ANYMORE! 

Crazzyyy, I'm totally nuts and I know it. The sales lady was still super excited and jumping all around me while snapping some more pics, but I just didn't see that dress as THE dress anymore. I thought the material didn't look that good and it was a bit too sparkly, and I just said in Chinese "I want to cry", and the whole store went aghast. The sales lady went white like a ghost and stopped moving, the store owner put his hand on his mouth in astonishment, and J looked at me in disbelief. Yes, the dress that I said was SO princess-like, SO royal, So perfect, suddendly looked TOO sexy, TOO sparkly, and just not a match for the kind of wedding I wanted. J knows me too well to even think I was kidding. He said the dress was gorgeous but nothing could change my mind. We altered some parts of the dress and it looked better, but still not like my dream wedding gown. Maybe not elegant enough... I don't know, I just felt it was not the one. J asked me not to panic, said our wedding was still 4 months away {exactly 4 months away tomorrow!} and the most important was for me to be happy and very sure about my choice, so if I wanted to buy another one it was not a problem whatsoever. I felt immediately relieved to have such an amazing husband-to-be, and I told him I wanted to go to some other store to take a look at some more dresses and see what I would end up doing. 

Little did I know back in March when I ordered my dress, that I'd still be hunting for THE one three months later. Sigh. So there we were, back to where it all started, and looking at everything all over again. We went back to the store where everything kind of began back in early 2012. In spring 2012 J and I were still not engaged but knew we would eventually be {because we are just meant to be!}, and we were visiting the Canton Fair with my parents for some China sourcing {yes, this was J and I's first business, but you might not know because I opened this blog later on and never really talked much about it, except for in my about me section}. Anyways, at the Canton Fair I suddendly spotted a wedding gown stand from Knightly, a Chinese brand from Shunde {that's the city where J's family comes from by the way! Hello fate?}, I went in and loved their dresses. They were like the ones in Europe only at Chinese price, how awesome :) We found this store online and I kept an eye on it to make sure I hit their store as soon as J proposed. After our engagement we did indeed go to one of their stores from wedding street in Guangzhou, but as you all know I didn't end up picking a dress from them. But Knightly made it to my life again during our pre-wedding pics, where I wore 5 different dresses, picking one from Knightly on purpose and... the team forgot it in the studio when we were already an hour away from the city ready for the shooting!!! They asked me to pic any other from the ones in that other location and I refused. I had to have my Knitghly dress! So they did send someone to get it for me! Ha! It's the dress I'm wearing on the picture above, and we will be using one of the pics from this dress for our wedding invites, so of course I had to have it! {By the way, I'm not sharing my pre-wedding pics with you just yet because as you can see from the one above, the haven't been photoshoped yet!} .

Back to this weekend, we went into one of the Knightly stores, and saw some dresses we had already seen previously, and some new ones. Among these new ones there was one that caught my attention, so I decided to try it on. I LOVED IT. Not only it had all the elegance I was looking for, it was extremely special because of several details that will certainly not go unnoticed, and it had a complement that matched our wedding theme perfectly. Awww I so wish I could tell you more so that you knew what I'm actually referring to, but of course I can't. I told J: "This is it." He thought I lost it, because I seemed so sure about it and we hadn't even seen much stores yet. I said: "I want it! I want this dress!" He advised me to go take a look at some more stores before making the final decision, and so we did, but my mind was set. So we did go back to the store and... I GOT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This time yes, my wedding dress, and it matches everything: my style and our venue! I'm SO thrilled!!! 

You must be wondering whatever happened to the other dress. Don't worry, I got it too, and I will be wearing it in my Hong Kong wedding on December 29 where I need to wear from 3 to 5 dresses, so you'll be able to see it too :) How crazy is this story? For Chinese people it may seem not so weird since they use so many dresses for their weddings. For us westerners buying a second wedding dress after you didn't like how the first one you picked came out is like unimaginable. Well and specially because wedding dresses in Europe cost a fortune! Oh well, all's well that ends well! Now let's hope for the best when I try my new dress in two months :D