12 Oct 2005
Bags Of Beads(HKTDC Fashion - Leather Goods & Bags, Vol 04,2005)
Chi Sun Beaded Handbags Fty
"Everyone likes Oriental arts and crafts," explains proprietor and manager Chan Yin Ching, referring to the enduring popularity of Chi Sun's colourful array of stylish handbags sporting delicate beaded embroidery.
He stresses that the company's products are 100% handmade. "Machines can embroider straight lines, but can't handle the curves necessary when it comes to depicting more delicate items such as people or flowers."
Chi Sun's Hong Kong showroom is a riot of colour, with more than 1,000 elaborately-beaded designs that offer a touch of sophistication to discerning women worldwide.
The company's huge range includes elegant beaded evening bags comprising beads, sequins and satin, everyday bags studded with beads and colour flakes, beaded and embroidered bags, knitted bead bags, metal mesh bags and beaded bags, belts and laces.
The handbags boast a rich variety of beads ranging from glass to plastic, embroidered onto sumptuous fabrics such as satin. "Our collection features exquisite design and superior quality and is available in different colours while remaining affordable at competitive prices," Chan claims.
Chi Sun, which takes OEM orders, also produces beaded motifs and lace.
"We provide customers with a one-stop service, including design, production and shipping, to ensure on-time delivery," he says, adding the lead time is usually about 45 days.
He maintains that Chi Sun's comprehensive services offer customers added convenience. "The integrated services also eliminate middleman expenses, enabling us to offer lower prices," Chan believes. "This in turn increases our customers' own competitiveness."
Chi Sun has come a long way since Chan founded the company in 1975. "At that time, beaded handbags were very popular but not many factories were making them," he recalls. "It was a very small business in the beginning with 5-6 people, including embroiderers."
However, the lack of skilled embroiderers in Hong Kong forced Chan to move Chi Sun's production, first to Macau and later to the Chinese mainland, to take advantage of the skilled workforce and lower labour costs.
Now, Chi Sun is staffed with more than 200 skilled embroiderers and handbag designers who produce some 15,000 beaded handbags a month at mainland factories in Shantou and Hunan Province, which have a combined floor area of more than 3,000 square metres.
"We truly understand our customers' needs, having been in the business for more than 30 years, and have built mutual trust and good relationships with our clients," asserts Chan.
Much of this customer satisfaction is due to Chi Sun's commitment to meeting customers' needs, Chan says, citing Chi Sun's minimum order requirement. "A standard minimum order should be 500 bags, but sometimes we accept orders as small as 100-200 units and our customers appreciate this flexibility."
Chi Sun's customers are importers from all over the world. "Our largest market is the US," Chan explains, adding that the US accounts for some 50% of the company's sales volume and 30% of its turnover.
The company's other major markets include Europe, particularly the UK, Italy and Turkey, as well as Japan. "Europeans and the Japanese tend to like higher-end products," he observes.
This acute awareness of market needs and trends has helped Chan and his company weather a variety of recent storms such as the 1998 Asian financial crisis, the September 2001 attacks in the US and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, when orders dried up virtually overnight.
He attributes Chi Sun's resilience to its conscientious staff and flexibility.
"Our employees work hard - sometimes overnight," Chan says. "We also pride ourselves on keeping costs low, which further increases our flexibility."
Little wonder he is optimistic about the outlook for Chi Sun. "Although competition is very keen, we have a strong foundation and are now in a better position to weather difficult times," Chan insists. "Beaded handbags have been popular in the US and Europe in recent years and look likely to remain in fashion for the foreseeable future."
WRITTEN BY LIZA LEE
Chi Sun Beaded Handbags Fty