You may know Kay Tse as, first and foremost, a Cantopop singer helming the hit song “Wedding Invitation Street” (囍帖街), her most beloved, in 2008. But these days, the songstress sings to a new tune; one decidedly more preoccupied with the worlds of fashion, beauty and consumer retail. Below, Tse speaks on her brand Kaytiquette, her newest “What will I grow up to be?” collection – available for purchase at STORiES’ new flagship store on Hollywood Road – and what it was like creating the adorable parent-child designs with her daughter, Kakaball.
What’s the story behind Kaytiquette?
I portray Kaytiquette as a little book filled with vignettes of daily life where every new episode released is either a serialised novel, a collection of short stories or a poem of the moment, written by me and co-edited by various designers. Contents are about life, self-love, our respect for each other, our intimacy with nature and mindfulness.
In the name of Kaytiquette, I have poured my heart into sustainable projects in collaboration with local designers and a variety of labels. We call each collaboration an “episode”. Each episode is to be serialised like a collection of short stories. We hope to offer good vibes and thoughts for our audiences, with respect to green values, to advocate a more sustainable lifestyle through different aspects and angles.
By launching different episodes one after another, I hope that this little book will be full of inspiration, and our content will become richer and more exciting as the stories develops.
What does a “mindful atelier” mean to you?
I started to practice and focus on mindfulness during the past years. To “be in” and realise my being in every present moment and observe my true feelings and emotions with different circumstances. I found that I have great passion in appreciating and preserving nature. I feel the urge to follow and share ideas on how to maintain a lifestyle with harmony of the wellbeing of both human race and our Mother Nature.
“Kaytiquette” stems from the word “etiquette”. “Etiquette” means respect and to have manners. I named this passion project of mine “Kaytiquette” as a representation of my preferred manners to take good care of ourselves while respecting others and presenting our love to our planet.
A “Mindful Atelier” is a demonstration of the concept of life and harmony. Through different episodes and collaborations with respect to different sustainability ideas and details, I sincerely wish we can all learn to “choose well” – to have deeper considerations before making each choice regarding values and the fundamental meanings behind.
For example, in the production of Kaytiquette’s first episode, we chose only durable yet light and soft natural fabrics with no chemical bleaching or dyeing to fabricate our minimalist designs that would effortlessly stand the test of time. We used recycled paper box to ship our parcels and none of the items are wrapped with plastic bags. Rather, we give out cotton laundry bags for free to hold the items inside as a more sustainable option for packaging. Care instructions are printed inside the garment and there isn’t a price tag or hanging tag used. Information is either printed on the item or available on our website. All these little details represent our efforts at communicating with our audience about the sustainable options we are trying to provide. To me, “mindfulness” also embraces the meaning of awakening; understanding the importance of self-love, environmental preservation and sharing all these wonderful ideas with others for a harmony of humankind and nature, not only physically but also spiritually.
Entrepreneurship is very different from your other vocation as a singer! Was branching out into retail always something you wanted to pursue?
I cherish Kaytiquette’s sustainable collaborations as my passion project, something I truly love and care about other than music. Speaking of sustainability, I do wish Kaytiquette would sustain and grow into a well-known name for sustainable options for the public. My focus is on how to raise public interest on a preferable eco-conscious lifestyle which I see as a major trend and direction that is already flourishing. I am happy to contribute and honestly some of the undergoing projects are actually not aiming at profits. We have purposeful plans to donate part of our earnings to organisations with environmental protection and education contributions. I would rather consider Kaytiquette as a “life-form” that exhibits possibilities and flexibility for any meaningful ideas that would help promote sustainability.
What were some difficulties and challenges you’ve had to overcome with Kaytiquette?
The first things that come to my mind are “Time and Team”. I have different identities: singer, songwriter, producer, actress, company owner and a family member. Time management is definitely a challenge for me with this new change. I strongly felt that, with a small team like ours, we have to be really in sync for any direction and decisions to be made. It is very crucial to keep up with great morale. Since the beginning of 2022, we have made efforts to act in accordance with our plan and have successfully launched four different collaborations ranging from womenswear, handmade eyewear, vegan skincare to our latest parent-child attire – and we still have more collaborations in the coming months to launch before the year ends – with a team of only eight people including myself. At the same time, I take time to produce several new songs and MVs, and also have had my concerts earlier during the summertime. The workload is intense. Without a team which fully supports me, I would not have achieved everything I have.
Where did you love for fashion and beauty come from?
I would say it was gradually developed after I became a singer, when I have more exposure to the fashion world and have the need to maintain a good physical and mental state for work. Learning from mistakes and gathering more and more information out of curiosity, I discovered my interests and preferences bit by bit. As a singer, it is very much a privilege to be able to appreciate the latest fashion trends up close and personally. It definitely opened my eyes and heart for fashion. After all these years, I found myself very comfortable with a lot of different styles but also leaning on more simple and minimalist options for my daily life, off-work choices.
Can you tell us more about your newest collection?
Our newest collection, “What will I grow up to be?”, is a parent-child clothing series. The idea emerged from a conversation between me and my daughter Karina, her nickname is Kakaball. One night, she asked me what it would be like when she grows up. I told her that she should learn to listen to her heart and make good decisions according to her own true feelings. I told her to ask herself some questions: What kind of person does she want to be? What kind of life does she want to live? What kind of friends does she want to make? I hope that she would learn how to read her own mind and follow her inner voice from this very young age.
I found the conversation with Kakaball very interesting and touching. So, I put down the conversation on paper and shaped it into a poem as a gift for my daughter so that she could read it later when she grows up. I imagine that would be really wonderful and heart-warming for her to read the conversation again many years later. I went on to share this conversation with our collaboration designer Rex Ko, who has a four-year-old daughter, and he took this as the inspiration to create this parent-child clothing series. He even had my poem printed on a neckerchief as one of the highlights of this meaningful and memorable series.
Tell us about working with your daughter, Kakaball, for the new collection! Which is her favourite piece from the collection? And which is yours?
It’s a lot of fun to have a photoshoot with her. She is very cooperative, and I would honour her performance as very very professional. [laughs] Being a five-year-old kid, she managed to stay calm but active for a stretch of four hours of outdoor shooting, under bright sunlight and in humid pre-storm weather. It’s not an easy task but she handled it well. I can see that she enjoyed participating in my work and she really did a good job. That makes me very proud indeed.
I haven’t asked her what her favourite piece is but I personally like the Princess Audrey Jacket very much. It looks very nice on both adults and children. It’s a light-weight jacket with vintage French details such as puff sleeves and the ribbon at the collar. A very nice balance between looking dressed up and laid-back at the same time. When not buttoned up and with the ribbon let loose, it goes very well with more casual or even sporty styles.
Kaytiquette’s episodes have ranged from fashion to eyewear to beauty to kidswear. What other avenues are you keen to explore?
To further note our priority on sustainable emphasis, we would really go further to widen our scope. We have series of some totally new projects coming up next year and we hope to give our supporters a nice surprise.
Who’s the Kaytiquette woman? Can you describe the person you design for?
My ideal Kaytiquette person would be radiant with love and kindness, full of passion and energy, respect nature, eco-conscious, comfortable with their own style and, most importantly, FUN! Fun is the best fuel for leading us to go on and grow.