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The Best Of Hong Kong
Lifestyle News
By Joseph Lam | December 5th, 2019

Faye Bradley is the founder of Cha Siu Papers, a cute and quirky craft business which hand-draws bilingual puns on plantable greeting cards, tote bags and reusable coffee cups. At 22, she’s been able to combine her love of art, design and greener pastures with her day-to-day profession as a copywriter. She opens up to us about using wit to bridge cultural and generational gaps, from her Point of View.

Best of both worlds

My dad is English and my mom is Chinese so I grew up with quite a mix of both cultures in Hong Kong. I feel like growing up Eurasian has let me into two completely different cultures and allowed me to embrace the best of both, celebrating both family traditions. My grandfather, on my mother’s side, was very traditional and didn’t merge into the western side of Hong Kong, while my father’s side doesn’t know much about Hong Kong — I suppose you could say it was kind of a lot of “switching” cultures.

I can speak Cantonese despite attending an English-speaking school, and I think it’s really beneficial to have access to both languages in this international city. I also have quite a lot of mixed-race friends who had similar experiences so I think it might be generational. My parents, however, are very integrated and have also come to be part of both cultures, too. After finishing high school in Hong Kong, I moved to the UK for the first time and studied art and design in Leeds.

Chai Siu Papers, Crafts, Cards
Bilingual wordplay works well Cha Siu Papers

Puns to bridge the cultural gap

I think there are many bridges between Hong Kong and western culture, hence why my customer base is so mixed — people seem to pick up on the east-meets-west puns very easily nowadays. There are a lot of fusion restaurants, products and shops around now which is also very encouraging. Food is also something that everyone seems to love, so I use a lot of these, particularly dim sum like “siu mai” — a definite favorite.

With Chinese puns, I have been trialing these, but at the moment I’m quite excited by the mix of using both in a line to evoke humor and quirkiness. I have asked my mother for advice with puns in Cantonese but it doesn’t seem to be a thing yet.

Creativity meets practicality 

I’ve always enjoyed writing, particularly creative writing, so I had my own travel blog before I started Cha Siu Papers. I went through a lot of freelance writing with different companies in fashion and travel, which expanded my knowledge of different markets and helped me with creativity in puns too. My parents aren’t into copywriting, however — they have both always been very passionate about starting businesses and trying new ventures so I think this definitely inspired me. Their wittiness has helped with the word play too.

Chai Siu Papers

From paper to table 

I made my very first design last year using my favorite dim sum, cha siu bao, and contacted several businesses and restaurants to see if they would be interested in customized cards or stocking my new products in a kind of a trial run before producing and designing more. It turned out to be a bigger success than I was hoping, and the response rate was so great I continued on. I made cards for restaurants like Fang Fang and Honbo, before making stock for boutique shops and cafes around Hong Kong, such as Oelili and Tuckshop by Social Club. I’ve always been passionate about art and design, in fact I drew and painted a lot as a child. I really enjoyed doing this and that’s how I found and continued my passion. I thought it would be cute and ironic to set my name as something of a pun in itself — for lovers of dim sum and the creative arts.

It starts young

My first memories of art were probably during the first few years of school. My mom signed me up to many types of classes as a child, and I remember loving the arts and crafts lessons and getting a lot of praise for my work. I used to make my own products and birthday cards and send them to my friends and family, so it was refreshing to start something completely new and for myself this time. It’s been really encouraging seeing people get excited about my own creations.

 

Tote bags by Cha Siu Papers

Eco is the new black

I think the use of eco-friendly crafts is definitely up and coming and I’ve hopped on the bandwagon with 100 percent recycled paper. I’d like to see more of this in the future and I have a lot of faith that this is something that is in the process of coming, with green supermarkets and shopping. When I was in the UK earlier this year, I discovered “Plantable Seed Paper” cards, so I ordered a bunch and started printing some cards on this paper instead. I wanted to keep the hand-feel experience of receiving cards as opposed to e-cards and this completely biodegradable method which sees the cards turn into flowers, herbs, and plants offered exactly that. The prices are slightly more expensive because of the costs of making sustainable paper, however it all goes toward making a change for better. It’s a project I’m very excited about and hope is going to be the new way forward.

More from our Point of View series.