We dedicate this special section to the makers of Beijing – the entrepreneurs, crafters, and movers and shakers who provide new ways of experiencing this great city. We know there are many out there who have exciting endeavors in mind but are just waiting for the right moment. So we hope that you find inspiration in each maker whom we’ve invited to participate in this feature.
“Dressing well is a form of good manners,” according to fashion designer Tom Ford. It’s very fitting, especially for young men who want a polished and presentable appearance wherever they go. Achieving a gentlemanly look can be challenging in Beijing because it’s a specialist niche, but Justin Kwan and his team at PrincipleM are ready to spruce the guys up for different occasions. Kwan’s shop offers premium tailored clothing labels, accessories, classic menswear, and other heritage brands that help gentlemen stay in style.
beijingkids: Tell us what inspired you to put up your business/brand. Is it something related to your profession or hobby? Or perhaps a childhood dream?
Kwan: In university, I worked part-time in retail at Macy’s and always had a strong interest in clothing and menswear. I studied management in university and was always interested in entrepreneurship. So, I guess the two interests and my passion lead me to start Principle M.
How did you face the first few challenges that came along your way?
In the early days of starting my brand, the biggest challenge was convincing people my designs and products were worth buying. I decided to start a brand that offered classical tailored suits using some of the best fabrics from around the world and adopting the best tailoring methods to be sure I can deliver a quality product. Our style is also very classic, comfortable, and fit. We’ve always been product driven; I believed in the beginning that if we could deliver a great product, customers would seek our product. It worked.
Share with us a memorable story with your customer/patron and how did that help you build your brand better?
Since tailoring a suit is a process with measurements, fittings, and designing, the actual suit is delivered around 5 weeks after our initial consultation with a customer. So I get the chance to get to know my customers quite well and make recommendations based on this personal relationship. The most gratifying part of my job is when they try on their new suit and take a look at themselves in the mirror and give a smirk of satisfaction. That means I did my job well.
We know that Beijing is a land of opportunities so what can you tell people who are planning to set up small businesses?
It takes a lot of passion and perseverance. You need to love what you are doing in order to be motivated to get through the early stages and most difficult times.
What’s that one thing that keeps you in Beijing?
I came to Beijing shortly after I graduated from university and have been here ever since. It is hard to say what one thing keeps me here since its a combination of things. One thing is how I’ve grown my business here and have mutual loyalty with my customers and things have been going great with business. But there are other things such as the local food, culture, and people that I really enjoy.
Mon, Wed-Sat, 10am-7pm. Principle M at 2F Shang Plaza, No. 20 Xinyuanli Xi, Chaoyang District. 北京市朝阳区新源里西20号楼金尚2层201 (8405 9158, principlem.com)
This is the exclusive digital version of the Making the New Beijing feature article in the beijingkids November 2018 Beijing Makers issue
Photo: Lens Studio