Cynthia Lui’s jewellery designs narrate her own life story.
This Hong Kong-based contemporary jewellery designer and mama-of-one knows just how much love goes into every drop of mother’s milk. So much so that following the birth of her daughter, she started her own jewellery line dedicated to breastmilk gems. Now, she is helping other mums in Hong Kong capture this magical time in their lives with unique breastmilk jewellery. Cynthia Lui’s Jewcells Jewellery has carved a unique niche for itself in Hong Kong. We caught up with Cynthia to find out about her work, family and how she has turned her passion into a business.
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Has jewellery design always been your passion?
My interest in jewellery design grew when I was a jewellery salesperson for the brand Links of London, here in Hong Kong. The brand focused on timeless style designs and assigning a particular meaning to each collection. I found that each piece of jewellery could tell a story and trigger strong memories. That was the inspiration for me to continue my studies at Sheffield Hallam University Degree in jewellery and metalwork.
After my studies, I worked as an accessories design assistant in Calvin Klein Jeans before I started my own brand, Jewcells Jewellery.
How and why did you start Jewcells?
I started up Jewcells as a part-time project. I set up a metal workbench at home and created the pieces from sketches to final products by hand. Initially, it was just because of my interest in making jewellery gifts for my friends and family.
As I soon realised, it’s not easy to develop a brand while working part-time. It’s not only about designing and creating pieces but marketing and branding them as well. I quit my full-time job and decided to concentrate on creating a proper jewellery brand.
What gap did you perceive in the market?
All collections in Jewcells have been designed with different concepts based on my own life experiences. The biggest change happened after I gave birth to my daughter, Galia. As I went through my own breastfeeding journey, I felt that this was what I have been looking for.
“I believe most of the mums who breastfeed their babies must have gone through some difficulties, and are looking for ways to treasure their last drop of breastmilk.”
That’s when Jewcells transformed into a brand with mummy and baby jewellery designs (which is rare in Hong Kong and ideal for push presents) and I also launched BreastmilkGems™ to help the mums to keep their memories. As my customers are mostly mums, being a mother myself helps me understand them and their needs.
Other than selling jewellery pieces, why do you also offer workshops?
I always encourage our customers to come into our workshop and create the pieces with their own hands. That way, whenever they see their jewellery, it can trigger the memories of making the pieces in the workshop and the reason for making them.
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Currently, how many workshops do you run and how many orders do you take per month? How do you strike a work-life balance?
We do 12 workshops a month, usually on Friday and Saturday. We also take around 20 to 30 custom crafted orders in a month. I know that Sunday is the most popular day for a workshop but I don’t do that as that day is reserved for my family.
I usually take Mondays off to spend time for myself. On weekdays, I head to work after sending my daughter to school and make sure I am home before dinner so I can spend enough time with her.
What are the future plans for the business? Do you plan to expand further?
We are hoping to expand our brand overseas, but we are doing it step by step. The next milestone for us is to attend our first tradeshow – the baby fair in Hong Kong, so more of our target customers get to know about us.
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How and where did you meet your husband? Does he play a role in your business?
We met through friends and found that our interests matched. I am a person who loves arts but is very bad at maths, so my husband, who is strong at accounting, definitely helps me with the business!
How do you and your husband divide parenting roles?
In some families, I know that kids rely more on the mum or dad, but in ours, we have split parenting roles quite fairly. We both can manage all our daughter’s daily needs, so if there is ever a day when one needs the day off, the other steps up!
COVID has affected all businesses and impacted families in many ways. Has it affected yours?
Although our classes were suspended, we still had a stable number of orders. So thankfully, we weren’t too badly affected.
How have you changed after becoming a mum?
I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to get everything right and not have any regrets. After I became a mum, I realised it doesn’t always work that way and some things are just not under our control.
It took me some time to stop pushing so hard, and learn to accept changes and difficulties.
“I guess I am learning more as a mum as well. I really enjoy “growing up” with my daughter together and making precious memories.”
Which achievements are you most proud of?
The biggest achievement in life is giving birth to our daughter.
What do you most enjoy about living in Hong Kong? Do you like bringing up Gaila here?
I am a true Hongkonger and I do enjoy bringing up our Gaila here. There are plenty of activities and everything is conveniently located.
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What do you enjoy most about being a mum?
Watching a little person growing up is magical! I keep wondering how and when she grew taller – did she grow at night?! I am someone with quite an imagination and I often wonder and daydream about what she will be like when she grows up!
What is most challenging about being a mum?
The most challenging part is finding the right method to communicate with Galia. All children have their own unique personalities and we have our own ways of communicating. I think we need to observe our kids and find a way to build a healthy relationship with them.
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After a long day, what’s your favourite way to unwind?
I love to dance at home after a long day! It helps me to release all the stress!
What are your top three tips for those looking to set up up their business in Hong Kong?
Stick to your goals.
Find a unique characteristic and build your brand around it to stand out.
Don’t get overstressed or else you will lose interest in what you love to do!
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All images courtesy of the talented Janelle of ByJanelle Photography. Follow her work on Instagram here and Facebook here.