This is a very special edition of Meet Your Micro Maker. Today we talk to Billy Lau, a name many may recognise from the various Facebook micro brand groups but to a smaller circle he is known as one of the best micro brand watch manufacturers in Hong Kong.
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your company.
Thanks for inviting me to participate, I’m happy to share. My name is Billy Lau, I am a representative of a watch manufacturer from Hong Kong and I am passionate about personalized designs. I just love boutique brands as they offer new innovation and put details on each area of the watch.
I am now a Project Manager at Evertime-Orologic, a watch company that design & production services. We work with materials like Stainless steel, bronze, ceramic, titanium & grade 5 titanium, Forged CarbonFiber, Glass fiber, Carbonate fiber, Meteorite, Damascus steel…etc
With the rise of crowd funding campaigns, there are many new brands and new comers. We focus on helping new comers to convert their ideas into real products and making their dream come true. We offer “microbrandized” quality of timepieces with our experience and understanding on the market.
How did you first get involved in the watch industry?
I studied in a design institute before I was hired by one of the biggest watch company in Hong Kong as a designer trainee. With various promotions and change of jobs, I have experienced duties from design, costing, prototype, production, inspection, quality control to delivery. Also taking responsibilities from dealing with clients & factories, monitoring the production, tackling & solving issues to controlling the schedule. It sounds like a tough workload but its enjoyable when you have the passion.
What services do you offer?
We are offering one-stop service in watch manufacturing, from design to technical drawing, sampling to production. We use 2D rendering with assist of 3D rendering to help clients and potential buyers get more understanding about the shape & appearance before sample is made.
Regarding to the rise of local-made-ism, yes, localmadeism, it does inject extra value to the product if it is assembling or making in Germany, USA, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore locally…we do help some clients to manufacture some parts instead of a complete watch. Anything we can contribute to the micro-brands market, we will help.
Part of your service is assisting with design, where do you find design inspiration? What does your ideal design look like?
Sounds a challenging question…Lol…We have to be sensitive on everything near you in your daily life. We are not only making a design but a product which carries value and a sense of life style.
Big luxury brands lead the trend but they are conservative in design as they have to make a widely welcomed & marketed piece.
We have to take reference to the luxury brands for the size and styles in advance. We could also get ideas from toys and machines for inspiring technical designs and new constructions. New material inspiration comes from other industries with styles featuring in retro car, boats, bicycle, camera, optical wears, diving instruments, vintage stuffs, knife, pistol & jewelries.
You have helped many micro brands get their first start in the industry, for many it was their first experience dealing with contract manufacturing and Chinese manufacturing in particular. Are there any pitfalls new comers commonly make and can avoid?
Some of them may think it is an easy business but we all know it is never easy. You have to build trust and confident with the customers & supplier/ brand. For any first project, money is not the main priority, how you build your brand and how you achieve the goal with targeted quantity are the key.
Quality is a must! All consumers are wise enough. They can compare your product with other brands easily and spread the word rapidly.
Focus on design elements that link up with the lifestyle you want to present. What it carries and how you advertise it is pretty important. Simplicity is not a problem to me but try to present how you could bring more details & value to avoid comparison to potential competitors. And I strongly recommend new comers try more advertisement on non-watch media to get new audience which is easier.
Strategy, both pricing strategy & quantity strategy, this is very important to discuss with your supplier. We want to make it happened and we never want to squeeze each other. Remember this is should always be a win-win game.
Backup game plan, what would you do in case of failure? Would it be a comeback campaign, change to pre-ordering campaign directly? This is not only your plan but a plan with your supplier.
Micro brands have become very popular on crowdfunding platforms, where do you see the future of micro brands heading?
Micro brands start with watches but they could be building a brand with a diversity of products.
It could be electronics involved with a smart watch, it could be jewellery with gent’s bracelet & sunglasses. And there are some brands doing this.
Also microbrands are started from online direct selling, B2C (business to consumer) mode. Perhaps we have to shift into B2B, we have to be price oriented with specification change. And it is an old style business mode to go through distributors, dealers, retailers & stores. Microbrands may rely on online dealers to have regional business in order to maintain competitiveness.
Thanks Billy! If you are interested in starting your own micro brand and would like to talk to Billy you can reach him at [email protected]