Introducing the ultimate outdoorsy dad, creator of eco-friendly and sustainable sports kits and Hong Konger, Andrew Chambers
Your kiddos or their sports team and uniforms probably don the homegrown sports wear line, Tsunami Sport. In this edition of That Papa, we are introduced to the man behind the infamous brand, Andrew Chambers. As a champion for producing sustainable and eco-friendly sports kit, he has been providing quality sports wear for Hong Kong students to the Tonga rugby team for the Rugby World Cup to being the official sponsor for Hong Kong’s Paralympics Team. Beyond the business, lies an ethos for living life to the full, embracing the great outdoors and passing that passion for an active life to his sons. Andrew candidly shares his best parenting moments, lessons he’s learned running a business and why family is his number one priority.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? What brought you to Hong Kong?
I am very lucky to have arrived in Hong Kong in 1982. My Dad was an engineer for the MTR and we came out as a family. We moved into Hang Hau Wing Lung Road, in Clearwater Bay, which looks very different today from back them.
What sparked your passion for sports and getting into the clothing industry?
My sports bug has always been with me. As a young kid, I’d play any sport. I wasn’t the best academically in the classroom and found that playing sport was my escape. Mum and Dad had always encouraged us kids (my younger brother and sister and I) to enjoy sports and give things a go.
It was my involvement in rugby that brought me back after university. I began my career working at the HKRFU. After a great two years there I founded the company Tsunami Sport Ltd in 2003. I had no textile or merchandise experience, but in typical Hong Kong fashion, I was presented with opportunities with suppliers who supported our vision and we took off from there.
Tell us about Tsunami Sport and how that came to life. What’s the story behind the name?
In 2003, myself and my then business partner felt there was a great opportunity to fill a gap in the custom sportswear market. At the time, Hong Kong had some very low quality, cost driven sports kit vendors. Beginning with what we knew about rugby kit, we went out to try and provide quality, custom sports team wear. The name was established from a rugby team we both played for at University called the ‘Tsunami 7’.
The brand continues to stay true to our initial objective. To provide highly functional, quality products that are original in design. In 2005, our focus shifted and we began to think more about the environmental effects the textile industry has during production, packaging, shipping as well as the afterlife of the products life cycle.
We have a huge focus on sustainability and through our fabric development now offering fabrics produced from 100% recycled plastic. We have our trademarked collection of eco fabrics named Eco Fit®. These are specifically designed for the school and corporate uniform market.
This is only the real start of where we want to go. With exciting developments on the horizon with our fabrics, we believe that we will be closer to our goal of being the industry leader in sustainable practice for the team wear market and driving change within the industry.
What has been your biggest lesson learned as a business owner? What would you do differently?
We have a running joke in the office that we make one big mistake a year. These mistakes are unnoticed to the outsider but have always shown us an important lesson. From failure to trademark our company name and logo at the start, to trusting distributors with our supply chain secrets. It’s been a magical and at the same time stressful learning curve.
A clear lesson we have learned is staying true to your beliefs. Once you deviate slightly from this you lose your direction. Everyone can copy. Everyone can sell cheap. So staying true to your product quality and goals and not devalue the work that has gone into our end product and service levels is so important.
What has been your most memorable team to kit out and why?
We have had a few special and iconic moments. From the first time we provided a school with 100% eco uniforms, to the national team of Tonga playing at the Rugby World Cup in our kit. The company was born with rugby at the heart so seeing our kit on the grandest Rugby stage of the year was an incredible moment. On a more local level, 2 years ago we set a goal to try grow our support of local Hong Kong sports. This lead to us sponsoring the Hong Kong Paralympic team. It has made me immensely proud to be a Hong Konger and support my home team at the Paralympic games.
What sports are you and your family into? Have you had a big influence over your kids and what sports they play?
We want our kids to find the sports and activities that they like. So, it’s a real focused effort to expose them to everything we can. From dance, golf to rugby. The character and temperaments of our boys is very different, which we love. Gemma, my wife, comes from a big running family and I come from a team sports family. So running, rugby and football take up a big chunk of time.
We believe it’s important they have an active outlook on life. It worries us when we see the future generation unable to catch and pass or just play outside without some guidance. It’s certainly a goal for us to make sure our kids are not like that. It’s a big reason why we live were we do.
Read more: The Importance of Child-Initiated Play
What was your reaction to the news of your wife’s pregnancy?
I was so excited. Best news ever. We had always talked about starting a family which was something that was important to us.
How did you choose your children’s names?
We choose Freddie and Jude for such different reasons. Freddie was the name of 3 from 4 of our Grandads. It’s a strong name within both families. We also liked the more traditional names at the time. Jude was a bit different and a little less sentimental. We both just really liked it and couldn’t think of an uncool Jude we’d ever met. He is living up to that theory!
What was your experience like changing the first diaper?
The fact I can’t really remember it specifically tells me it couldn’t have been that bad. But I do remember being amazed that something so small could make such horrendous smells!
How hands-on were you during the birth process?
We went with the public system which was nothing short of amazing. Yes, lacking a little in the empathy side of birth but incredibly professional in what they do. I was present at both of the boys’ births and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Gemma was in labor for 32 hours with Freddie and it was over in hours with Jude. Two amazingly different experiences. My respect for you ladies has no boundaries.
Who do your boys look like, you or your wife?
Freddie is without doubt Gemma in terms of looks and personality. And the same goes with Jude for me.
What’s your favourite part of your parenting routine?
I don’t have anything that stands out. I look forward to weekends so much. Just being active with them is something I love. We have Dad vs Boys football in the garden which I love. More for me than them at times! Our house is run by Mum. She nails it and us boys don’t mess with it!
Who plays good cop and bad cop between you and your wife?
We tend to mix it up. But Gem plays bad cop the most for sure. But they know when I am unhappy, it must be bad. Well, I like to think that anyway!
What do you typically do with your family on the weekends?
These days play dates and birthdays seem to be a key event. But we do try to have some structure. Friday nights are movie and pizza nights. Saturdays mornings we will go out as a family with the dog. Golf is now on our schedule so we head off to KSC Golf course for their lessons. As for the rest of our Saturdays, if we are free, we are at the pool or in the garden. Although we do like to get up to watch the Tigers rugby team play when we can. Sundays is an early start with Mini Rugby. We then try and have family time. We are super lucky that we have both sets of Grandparents, uncle and aunties in Hong Kong. We have Sunday dinners with them if we can get everyone or some together.
Favourite kid friendly places and activities in Hong Kong?
We were big fans of Bounce which sadly has just closed. Core Water Park has been a big favourite this summer. We love the outdoors: Trio Beach, cycling Tai Po Waterfront, and junk trips are all favourites. We often end up at the Kowloon Cricket Club for bowling, swimming, and tennis.
What is your favourite pitch to play in in Hong Kong?
Our back garden. It’s named the ‘Talent Identification Centre’ by family and friends as we have set it up with everything you’d need. Pool, zip-line, treehouse, swing, tether ball, swing ball, balls galore, scooters, bikes, football goals, rope ladders and more! We are not a competitive family at all!
Favourite travel destination for your family?
This is a super tough question, but must say the snow. We all love skiing and it makes for an awesome family holiday. Japan is just a mega place and we have enjoyed a few great trips to the snow there. Love the people, food and culture.
How do you keep the romance alive after having your kids?
Maybe have to ask Gemma on this one! I’m absolutely useless. We are a very affectionate family and very supportive of one another’s passions and goals. We still have our date nights and try to have dinner once a week. It used to be on Fridays, but that is now movie night! So we take the window when we can.
Favourite date night spots with just your wife?
Apparently, we are weird, but we love to run with each other. So when the cooler weather and those snakes have gone to bed, we like to get up on the trails for a night run. Sai Kung is blessed with great trails. We are a little lazy when it comes to eating out as once we’re home in the Sai Kung area we don’t usually head back into town. We love Sai Kung local spots like The Conservatory, Diner (hard to go without kids) or amazing service at Jaspers with Sing.
What’s the hardest part of being a dad?
I just want to hang out with the kids all the time. I truly enjoy their company and their energy. I love my weekends as we get great time together. So being away for travel is tough or not making it home before they have crashed out.
What’s the best part of being a dad?
Watching the kids develop into good people. It’s so important to Gem and I that we bring up well-rounded kids. I think we are winning this battle, but I could be biased. Seeing them play sports and express themselves in how they play and their different temperaments is great to see. I absolutely love watching them play sports.
How do you avoid the dad-bod?
Thanks for saying I avoided! Gem and others would say differently. I struggle as I’m a terrible, terrible snacker and I love chocolate and crisps. I’d personally say I’m not in great shape but I love sports and an active lifestyle, so it does allow for me to indulge!
What are your favourite characteristics of your boys?
For Freddie, it’s his affectionate personality. He loves to smile and socialise which is something he gets from his Mum. He is just a happy guy who will get on with anyone. With Jude, it’s his incredible dedication to perfect something. He is a tenacious little guy and I love his determination and competitiveness. What I really love is how different they are.
What do you hope your children get from you and what do you hope they don’t get?
I really hope they are full of grit. I hope they pursue their dreams and battle through obstacles to achieve what they want. That for me is something I hope they take. The one I don’t want them to get is my hangriness! I’m terrible without food!
If there was one trait your children could take from you and your wife, what would it be?
Willingness to give everything a try. This is more from Gemma. She is open to try anything and I hope the kids take that same approach. It opens opportunities that maybe they’d never been exposed to before.
What’s the funniest parenting story you can share?
We’d just had Freddie and we’d decided to go for a run together one afternoon while he was asleep. I had left my running top on his change mat that morning and Gemma during a slightly messy nappy change had used it to make the final touches of Freddie’s bum. In my rush to go out I’d just grabbed it and chucked it on. While running I noticed that I absolutely stank. It was only when I come home and Gemma shared with great pleasure and giggles, that I had Freddie’s poo smeared all over the back of my top. It was a genuine sick in your mouth moment!
What do you know now that you wish you knew before becoming a dad? Biggest lesson learned?
I’d have started earlier. I was always worried about having enough money to bring up kids in Hong Kong. I remember sitting with my Dad having a drink and he gave me the best advice ever. He said, “Mate, you will never have enough. Get on with it and deal with it as it comes along”. A typical Dad attitude.
Do you have any tips for soon-to-be dads?
Enjoy the moments. The middle of the night feeds, the tiredness. They grow crazy quick and you get your life back in no time. Make sure you are involved. Share the work load and don’t see kids as inhibiters to stop doing what you used too. Take them with you and adapt – it is the best thing we can do.