Inside of ceramics store Phoenix Design, kids' clothing line Tang’ Roulou (also, those sugar-coated hawthorns we love) offers some of the cutest threads your renminbi can buy.
The company making the pint-sized qipaos was started more than a decade ago, when French co-founder Pierre-Yves Babin started coming to China while working in the art industry. Today, the collection reflects his perception of Beijing and is also an affectionate nod to his home country.
Below, he tells Time Out Family what starting a business in Beijing is like.
Pierre-Yves (right) and his business partner Amelie
What does it take to launch a business in Beijing?
We registered the brand Tang’ Roulou in 2008, and the process was a little long but somehow not too difficult. The advice I’d give to those looking to start a company here is, first and foremost, be patient. Developing a business takes time – when it’s in a country with a different culture to your own, it takes even more time and energy.
Second, have a deep interest in Chinese culture. This will naturally help you to understand both your partners and targeted customers. Finally, you need to be brave because it’s a lot of work running a company.
How has the business scene in China changed over the years?
The biggest change I’ve seen since we’ve opened is definitely the fast development of e-commerce. We now send parcels everywhere in China with people buying our creations on our Taobao store. We even get customers purchasing from outside China through our international e-boutique. We’re also getting tonnes of feedback from customers asking for bigger sizes – even adult sizes.
How do you find inspiration for new designs?
My business partner Amelie and I always have an open dialogue. We share new ideas and develop Tang’ Roulou collections in our Beijing studio in the hutongs of Dongcheng, together with our tailors and handcraft experts. Amelie and I both have a real passion for fabrics and patterns.
We love going to explore fabric markets all over the country, and end up buying ones we love, even if we’re not 100 percent sure in that moment what we’ll be using them for.