This week I’m thrilled to introduce you to the amazing women behind the beautiful Hong Kong based business, Workshop Weddings!
I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon at MANA! Cafe hearing Christine’s, Jenny’s and Lauren’s highly considered and deep responses to my questions that focused on clarity, confidence and connection in their lives and business.
These girls are simply amazing. They have cleverly combined their abundance of creativity, generous spirit and obvious friendship to build a business that fills a gap in the Hong Kong wedding scene.
I’m excited for you to learn more about each lady’s unique passion, how they found each other (very interesting!) and their grand plans for their inspiring business! Enjoy!
I’D LOVE YOU LADIES TO SHARE WITH US ABOUT YOUR LIVES IN HONG KONG, YOUR PASSIONS AND HOW YOU CAME TOGETHER TO START WORKSHOP WEDDINGS.
Christine: My family and I moved to Hong Kong when I was 2 years old… So it’s been a while! I moved away for university and decided to come back to start a career back home, which was much harder than I thought! I have always been very visual so, despite my degree in marketing, I ended up working in design and graphics – which has become a passion. I worked with some incredibly talented people who are still my inspiration – from their creativity to their work ethics.
My husband and I got married in 2013. The idea behind Workshop Weddings started there – as I could not seem to find a fun, involved wedding planner for my own wedding. Everything in Hong Kong seems to be pretty cookie cutter and, being a very detail-oriented person, it just wasn’t good enough.
I invited groups of friends to come over over weekends to help put the wedding together – and it was incredible! We had the most amazing time – and we were able to add the levels of detail that made our wedding more ‘us’.
Jenny: My dad’s job brought us to Hong Kong when I was two years old. After graduating from high school I attended university in Canada and then spent four years post graduation living in Mainland China.
I spent over 9 years working as a Corporate Social Responsibility consultant for MNC’s, as well as working with the Red Cross in Beijing. I started Naturally Better – a company advocating conscious consumption – products that come through clean supply chains and do not have any negative impact on our environment and its inhabitants.
My other passion has always been art and design – I studied Communication Design & Development studies, so I jump at any opportunity to engage with other creative people.
I fell in love with Christine’s personality and Workshop Weddings while planning my own wedding with her. We had such fantastic chemistry that I basically begged her to let me work with her. Lauren was the missing piece that made the three of us whole!
Lauren: I first came to Hong Kong when I was 4 years old. In many ways it’s home for me. I grew up hopping around between Asia and the U.S. and I’m culturally all mixed up like many people in Hong Kong, which makes it an easy place to exist and relate to others.
My love for design probably has something to do with the 19 moves I’ve made in less than 25 years, reinventing “home” every time, plus a particular fascination with the surreal. I love spatial transitions and environments that urge the senses to heighten and emotions to deepen.
I’ve worked in art curation, studio and installation management and later transitioned to interior design. Now I try to combine my technical training and supplier network with my work in creating atmosphere.
I was a bridesmaid at Jenny’s wedding, and I met Christine then (dashing around in the background!). The wedding details were so heartfelt and beautiful. One day a while later, the three of us sat down together and something clicked. I’m finding that Workshop Weddings strings my passions and working style together. The process is personal, hands-on, and human, and the end result is magical. I’m excited to work on more, and also excited to take this same concept into branding services.
WHAT DOES ‘CLARITY’ MEAN TO YOU? WHEN YOU’RE LACKING CLARITY IN LIFE OR BUSINESS, HOW DO YOU GET ‘UNSTUCK’? WHAT PRACTICES OR STRATEGIES DO YOU USE?
Christine: I guess clarity to me means a clear, visual strategy – be it in my schedule or designs…? At the moment my life is my business and my clients… so it’s hard for me to draw a line…
Jenny: Clarity is finding my inner calm and listening to my instincts. I love to be surrounded by nature, so if I can get out of the city and into the mountains I will. If not, then I’ll go on a stroll with my dog Blue and let my thoughts shed their weight as I walk.
Lauren: Simplicity and organisation are my clarity. But in between times of clarity is always a lot of chaos – imperfections aid in new perspectives, unexpected problems foster original solutions, and it’s often after days of sleep deprivation that my frayed brain makes the clearest connections. I’m also starting to believe material possessions can hinder clarity. So I’m trying to get rid of stuff.
I’D LOVE FOR YOU TO SHARE A TIME WHEN YOUR SELF-CONFIDENCE HAS BEEN AT AN ALL TIME LOW AND WHAT YOU DID TO PICK YOURSELF UP AND GET BACK OUT THERE.
Christine: I realised that, once I started running my own business, my life would take me on very high highs and very low lows. I realised that I do deal with ‘nothingness’ very well – so when times are quiet, I guess you can call this a ‘low’ period of my life. Luckily I also teach yoga – so when events aren’t keeping my busy, I try to work on sequences and new asanas, to teach my students.
Jenny: I’ve only found steady footing in my self-confidence in the last few years. I’ve never been shy about who I am and how I’d like to impact the world, but it wasn’t until I let go of other people’s expectations and superficial insecurities that I’ve come into my own. How did I do this? I surrounded myself with people that inspire me, I looked in the mirror and started to appreciate my reflection inside & out. It’s not something that changes over night, it’s something I work on every day. Being around wonderful & confident women like Lauren & Christine inspires me to love myself more.
Lauren: When I hit my lowest, which was a few years after college, I moved home to be with family, and went back to school. I created things in my art classes I never thought I could do and got inspired. By choosing to break a cycle of decisions that were taking me further from my dreams, even if it seemed like a “set-back” at the time, I gave myself total freedom, and with that came confidence. It really helps to surround yourself with inspiring and caring people. Remove yourself from the negative ones!
HOW DO YOU STAY CONNECTED TO YOUR PURPOSE AND YOUR PASSION?
Christine: My passion is embroidery and creating dresses. I often return to Paris to learn new techniques from the masters of the trade – and being surrounded by them, their attention to detail, reminds me that all beautiful things cannot be rushed. Something we often lose sight of in Hong Kong.
Jenny: They are part of me every day. My purpose is to wake up and live. To be kind, balanced and patient with myself and the people around me. I channel my frustrations and discontents into my art ..and sometimes something ugly becomes something beautiful.
Lauren: Staying connected to my passion is not even something I have to think about. It’s in my leisure reading, its in my morning coffee, its in who I choose to spend time with, it’s in my relationship and my home. It’s my purposethat takes more self-awareness. I think there are much better ways than my current method, but I find myself consciously reconnecting with my purpose only a few times a year, when I come across an old journal which reaffirms that my intentions then and my actions now are in alignment. To me it proves that my subconscious is really running the show.
WHO AND/OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Christine: Many things inspire me. I love to be inspired by the couples I meet, their style, their attitude and the little things that make them tick. My partners also inspire me heaps, by always pushing my boundaries to places I never would have thought was possible.
Jenny: The women & men in my life, the literature and visuals I fill my mind with. And of course the people & animals that the universe randomly places into my path.
Lauren: I’ve been fortunate to have some amazingly talented bosses – incredible individuals who fused their intense passion with determination and action. I have a very creative family that influence me deeply, and my husband and my gleaming little boy are all huge sources of inspiration for me. Since joining Jenny and Christine, I am just constantly amazed by their levels of energy, positivity, and talent.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU GIRLS AND WORKSHOP WEDDINGS?
Christine: The next steps we are focusing on is growing and going international!
Jenny: We are just at the beginning of our journey…. =) the world is our oyster. I can’t wait to tell you more in a year!
Lauren: Beautiful things! Teamwork. Imagination. Travel. And a daughter!
AS YOU ALL GREW UP HERE, WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT LIVING IN HONG KONG?
Christine: I love my home. While the convenience is a bonus for everyone that lives here, my most favourite thing about Hong Kong is that you can really meet all sorts of people, from all corners of the world. This is truly an international city where backgrounds don’t seem to matter.
Jenny: It’s home. I love that the mountains are a walk away from the city. I love that I always bump into someone I know wherever I go! I love that I constantly meet wonderfully inspiring individuals!
Lauren: I love the contrasts here. For example, as refined as Hong Kong pretends to be, it really has a lot of grit.Plus, I can live in a lazy beachside village next to mystical mountains and be in high-gear suit central in 40 minutes.
MY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR YOUNG WOMEN ABOUT TAKING THE LEAP AND FOLLOWING THEIR DREAMS WOULD BE….
Christine: Be prepared for anything! Life has a way of throwing things at you when you least expect it… and it doesn’t necessarily become easier! But these are the wonderful little twists that will also make you stronger!
Jenny: You only have one life, live it the best way you know how. – and be kind to yourself along the way!
Lauren: Whatever you don’t know by now.. you will figure it out!
AND FINALLY DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE OR A DAILY MANTRA YOU USE TO KEEP YOU FEELING CLEAR, CONFIDENT AND CONNECTED WITHIN YOUR BUSINESS AND LIFE?
Christine: In life: Don’t give up. Never give up.
In business: All good things come with time.
Jenny: Nope 😉 the world is full of too many beautiful words & thoughts to choose just a one to live by. READ as much as you can!
Lauren: “Think big, start small, iterate quickly.”
Wasn’t I right!? The girls are awesome!
I was so appreciative and thrilled that the interview with Christine, Jenny and Lauren felt like a group of old girlfriends catching up for coffee! Their warmth and genuine nature is definitely magnetic! I too agree with the girls’ comments that one of the best things about living in this city is the amazing people you meet from all walks of life and far flung corners of the globe. As we sat and chatted I pictured my life a year and I never imagined that I would be interviewing amazing women like the Workshop Weddings girls and the likes of my other ‘Date With Ains’ guests. Truly blessed!
Workshop Weddings started almost as soon as Christine got engaged. Not being able to find a detail oriented planner or decorator in Hong Kong, Christine decided to get everything done herself… with a little help from her friends.
Through workshops arranged on weekends, Christine and her friends put together the most magical night Christine could remember, full of little details and messages to the guests. Her motto: Hosting through the art of your decorations. Never leave any leaf un-turned!
Christine Ritter (L)
Born in Seoul and raised in Hong Kong, this Korean French designer finds inspiration in the modern skyscrapers and in the hidden cultural gems of her hometown. Culture, heritage and nostalgia are important in her designs, as is the natural, organic flow of the feminine silhouette.
Having studied haute couture embroidery with Lesage in Paris, Christine brings her talent to Hong Kong to introduce a fine art to brides and women looking for something a little different, with extra attention to detail. With a background in graphic design and menswear, Christine also incorporates neutral elements in her prints and embroideries, as well as menswear details in her designs.
Lauren Eli (M)
Lauren Eli is a co-owner and stylist at Workshop Weddings. Having split a ten-year career between Arts Management and Interior Design, Lauren infuses her technical skill set with an imaginative approach to realise a wide range of applications. She styles for interiors, events, and photographs.
Previously, Lauren was a Senior FF&E Designer and Stylist for the international hospitality design firm ABConcept. Before going into interiors, she worked in Beijing as Studio Manager for world class artist Liu Wei, and Project Manager for renowned curator Karen Smith.
Lauren has a B.A. in Art History and East Asian Studies from Middlebury College, and spent three years studying Interior Design at SCAD.
Follow Lauren on instagram @loonynoodles
Jenny Kim (R)
Jenny is one of the co-founders of Naturally Better Limited, a company advocating conscious consumption, as well as one of the co-owners of Workshop Weddings, an event styling and decorations team.
Prior to starting Naturally Better Limited & Workshop Weddings, Jenny spent two years as a CSR Manager for CSR Asia. Jenny has also held roles as an Associate for Shanghai American Chamber of Commerce, a subsidiary NGO of the Chinese Red Cross, Bright Angel Fund; facilitating financial aid grants, education and employment opportunities for the blind, as well as working as Government Affairs / Business Development & CSR Manager for South East Asia at PPG Industries Inc., a USD 16 billion manufacturer of coatings, chemicals, glass and specialty products.
Jenny is a proud third culture kid that grew up in Hong Kong, loves to dance and has a deep love for learning as many languages as she can!
Jennifer holds a BA in Development Studies, BA Communication Design, as well as a diploma for Mandarin language studies from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.