An elevator convo with Johanna Chan. See here for more from our Next Up series.
What you do you?
I am building an ethical fashion label called RIL CREED, the first brand under the company my mom and I co-founded called LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability). I teach hot yoga by night.
How does your business work?
RIL CREED redefines the handbag as a tool to collect experiences and as a companion in a woman’s journey to change the world. We empower women with sustainable leather goods designed in Tokyo. Combined with age-old craftsmanship from our family-owned workshop, we are revolutionizing handbags by promoting slow fashion using offcuts and up-cycled leather from all over the world.
How did your business get started?
It started in 1984, when my dad saw a classified ad for a small handbag workshop in Hong Kong for sale. My family has been manufacturing handbags for different brands since then. RIL CREED is one of our recent clients from Japan. We started distributing the brand internationally since September 2014 due to its versatile timeless design.
I have seen a large amount of good quality Italian leather offcuts being wasted during the process of large quantity production since I was young. When I returned to Hong Kong from Boston, I decided to make use of the resources we have to make a change one bag at a time.
Who are your clients?
Our clients independent women from 25 to 45 years old who are conscious about society, the environment and making an impact on the world. They see handbags not just for their luxury appeal but as an accessory to carry with them while achieving their goals in both their professional career and private life.
What is a day in your working life like?
I start my day with 30 minutes of exercise, alternating between swimming, HIIT and yoga during the work week. I usually spend the morning in the office planning and managing the back-end of the business and the afternoon at our new Fashion Walk store with meetings in between. My favorite part of the day is when I get to spend time chatting with customers and learning from other industry leaders.
At night, I teach hot yoga in Discovery Bay. I end each day writing in my grateful journal. No one day of my work life is ever the same, and I truly enjoy every part of the ride — good and bad.
Where do you see your business in the future?
I see RIL CREED being recognized as a community of strong #RILwomen who come to our stores to experience how powerful it is when women empower women. I see the business being the most radically transparent and sustainable handbag label in Asia. We are looking forward to expanding our footprint to Singapore and Taiwan this year and to the States by 2019.
In terms of LOHAS Trading, we are looking forward to introducing more sustainable lifestyle brands from all over the world to Asia.