The Tatler 10: Anson Shum of OOKONN
It is hard not to spot a bit of a philosophical streak in Anson Shum. One third of the creative brains behind luxury luggage brand OOKONN (pronounced as "woo-cone"), which the young entrepreneur and avid traveler founded with friends Alan Tsui and Paul Sze just over a year ago, Anson speaks with forward-thinking insight and a blasé spirit that runs through OOKONN’s brand DNA—and as it seems, its co-founder too.
Having worked in the luxury and fashion industry for 12 years, the craftsmanship which Anson brought was no surprise. But it is the rare marriage of quality and rebellion, vintage and experimentation—as found across the brand’s products including its signature patented circular carry-on bag—that makes the Bluebell Group-backed brand an exciting travel lifestyle name to watch.
In our latest edition of the Tatler 10, a column where we pose 10 questions to Hong Kong-based entrepreneurs about their businesses, Anson tells us about the perks of running his own business and the importance of gaining perspective through travelling.
What does Hong Kong mean to you?
Born and raised in Hong Kong, I wasn’t wise enough to appreciate this gem when I was younger, like the Chinese saying “The moon seems fuller in foreign lands”. Now that I have travelled and lived in other cities, I realised I already have everything I ever need right here—my home, family, closest friends and all the seeds for happiness.
Summarise your business in one sentence.
Made for a unique journey.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Sitting here doing this interview with Tatler? (laughs) My definition of accomplishment is not limited by objective measures of outer wealth or physical achievements, but closer to a good feeling; so even something simple like having the freedom and possibility to do things that I like can be my proudest accomplishment.
See also: The Tatler 10: Olivier Dauchez
What do you love most about running your own business?
It puts you in a unique position to create the life you want—what work do we really want to do? Who do we want to collaborate with? You can build things from scratch, like writing your own story book. Your story could end up playing out in a number of ways based on your decisions, much like life itself. Every decision you make matters, which is exhilarating but also scary at the same time.
What advice can you offer budding entrepreneurs?
I’m slightly allergic to advice. Everyone has that non-stop internal voice, with a lot of it coming from others’ opinions and ourselves. They get in the way of reaching our potential. It feels safer not to try, than to try and fail.
I believe that we are our own biggest supporter or our own worst detractor, and the best solutions come from our own experiments and through learning. The internet has created an environment where it’s easier to push out information than ever before. As an entrepreneur, we have to practice awareness when we receive information so that we’re not sucked into believing that the suggestion is surely comprehensive or appropriate for me.
See also: The Tatler 10: Angela Huang
As an entrepreneur, what do you think sets you and your business apart from the competition?
We create not just a product, but an intimate, emotional connection.
Who inspires you and why? This can be one person or different people.
Anyone who makes an effort to plant a good seed that inspire us to move forward in life with enthusiastic hearts are those that I admired greatly, be it a scientist, a teacher, a film director or a small shopkeeper.
Looking back do you wish you had done anything differently?
Whether we think we have a lot of regrets, or we think we don’t, we're right. We can always dig out countless things that we could have done better or differently, but I have learned to reduce that overthinking habit.
Everything that has happened has contributed to me as a person. You can’t change what’s happened, you just have to look towards the future and try to move on.
What's your end goal?
Simply to be happy.
What are your words to live by?
Do what you can, when you can.
Find out more at ookonn.com
See other Tatler 10 interviews with Stephnie Shek, Natalie Chan and Pearl Shek.