Lion Rock Press Founder Claire Yates On How The Coronavirus Inspired Her
In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters.
The art of stationery was passed down for more than 120 years before reaching Claire Yates, who comes from a family of paper merchants. In 2013, she decided to put her own spin on the family business and launched The Lion Rock Press: a go-to for eco-friendly, Hong Kong-themed premium stationery and gifts.
In seven years, her business has expanded from a tiny stall at a Christmas fair to one of the most coveted stationery brands in Hong Kong. Alongside cards, candles and puzzles, Yates is known for her No Plastic Mm Goi water bottles, which combine her twin loves of Hong Kong and the environment.
At the beginning, I was just making a few cards and delivering them by hand. I launched at St John’s Cathedral’s Christmas fair. The owner of Bookazine was there and she told me she wanted to stock everything I made from then on. That was an amazing vote of confidence.
I entered a competition for Hong Kong’s best startup in the last hour it was open and I won. It gave me access to a co-working community—before that I’d been working out of my bedroom—in which I really came alive. The prize also included advertising dollars and an e-commerce website, so that helped kickstart the marketing of The Lion Rock Press. That’s how we took off.
I got involved in [advocating for] the environment when I started seeing single-use plastic, embarrassingly enough, from my own eco-range, No Plastic Mm Goi, which I started from a totally commercial point of view
I realised there were no Hong Kong-themed Christmas decorations, so decided to make some. The first set was transport-themed: a taxi, minibus, tram and Star Ferry. I ordered about 200 of each and I remember thinking, “That’s a pretty punchy order; my friends are going to have to make some pity purchases here.” We ended up selling 10,000. This year, we’re bringing out two more sets—one of which is virus-themed, with a lucky cat and snowman wearing masks.
See also: Gen.T’s Christmas Gift Guide For Entrepreneurs 2020
I got involved in [advocating for] the environment when I started seeing single-use plastic, embarrassingly enough, from my own eco-range, No Plastic Mm Goi, which I started from a totally commercial point of view. The press were asking me for soundbites to go with the range but I didn’t know enough about the subject, so I started to research it and realised I didn’t want to be responsible for this plastic waste any more. From then, I asked suppliers to use sustainably sourced paper instead of plastic wrap and made sure the boxes the bottles came in had no plastic window.
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I want to celebrate what is unique and amazing about this city. We print our products at a printer in Kwun Tong, and though we could make them much more cheaply over the border, it’s important for us to keep our money here. There is so much cool stuff in Hong Kong and many small businesses that need our patronage. It’s important to shop consciously and vote with your dollars.
See more honourees from the Media, Marketing & Advertising category of the Gen.T List