1 April 2003
Staying Ahead(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 02,2003)
Handiwares Co Ltd
|Premiums supplier Handiwares Co Ltd goes the extra mile in quality, style and finish to please demanding clients worldwide|
Steven Shair's latest big deal sticks vividly in his mind because the product is only about the same size as the lid on a large jar of coffee, yet he needed a hi-cube container to send the 100,000-plus shipment to Europe.
The item is a nifty little plastic shampoo brush and scalp massager. The clutch of soft, yet firm "spikes" on the working surface gives the user a thorough and satisfying scalp massage, while a finger-hugging grip makes it easy to hold as the user shampoos his or her hair under flowing water.
Hong Kong-born Shair, managing director of Handiwares Co Ltd, worked with designers in Hong Kong to craft the item's handy feel and fine-tune the degree of elasticity in the semi-soft yet firm spikes. The brush-massager is unaffected by hot water, and is odourless.
The big shipment was a one-off order for a European company specialising in hair products, and the item is now being used in a successful promotional drive for a popular shampoo.
The brush-massager was made at Handiwares' partner-factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland. Interestingly, despite the global economic downturn, Shair landed the deal less than a year ago.
Handiwares specialises in household items, kitchenware and stationery items, and is looking for more promotional tie-ups with established companies.
Another of its handy products is a paper stand that is smaller than a computer mouse but firmly holds a sheet of paper, that makes it easier for computer operators to copy drafts, documents or data.
"Much better than cluttering up your desktop with an old-fashioned clipboard," says Shair. "Even leaves room for a cup of tea or coffee."
The paper stand is the key component in the company's range of basic office stationery covering plastic tele-indexes, staplers, cutters, tape dispensers and magnetic memo holders.
All are produced in matching colours ranging from watermelon pink to soft blue, green and yellow, and are designed more to catch the eye of a secretary rather than her boss. Shair calls it "stationery with passion".
The paper stand is also proving an attractive promotional item. Companies buying bulk lots bearing their logos include airfreight giant UPS, Sony and Harley Davidson. They were also distributed to buyers at the recent Hong Kong Total Fashion Fair in Japan.
Shair recollects launching Handiwares in 1977, with "lots of optimism and 10 employees brimming with enthusiasm".
He notes that the company developed a solid core of customers, mainly in Canada and Europe, "but then the mainland began to open up and our buyers switched to products made there. Of course they were cheaper, but the quality was often not comparable and as a result many items were easily broken or even unsafe."
So Handiwares built up alternative markets in Southeast Asia. The spread of prosperity in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia was bringing upgraded lifestyles to many people, and the company's products, especially housewares, found good markets in these countries.
"Today we're looking for exclusive and attractive new items that can be used either in the office or the home, and lend themselves to use in promotions," says Shair. "We're now finalising the designs of several new products that I'm quite upbeat about."
WRITTEN BY GEOFFREY SOMERS
Handiwares Co Ltd
6/F, Austin Commercial Centre,
4 Austin Ave, Tsim Sha Tsui,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
E email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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