Nicely Made in China

China news on quality products, lifestyle, design and services.

LONGMA EQUESTRIAN PRODUCTS

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In its never ending search for quality products made in China, Nicely Made in China met Nicole Bernard, the owner of Longma, an Australia-based equestrian equipment company that makes all its products in China. From Tennessee where she was born, to Alvie (pop.60) near Melbourne, via Beijing where she spends half of her time, Nicole has traveled a long way. She stopped by at the Bookworm in Beijing to talk about her passions for China and horses, and how these two passions recently became intertwined.

Nicole, can you tell us how you started Longma?

A year or so ago my riding coach -Chris Smith 1980 Australian Olympic show jumping rider- came to visit me in Beijing- , and while discussing the equestrian market in Australia we realized it is bipolar: you either find very high end and very expensive gear or cheap junk. Horse riding is called the sport of kings and it is an expensive hobby. People who spend a lot of money on a horse care about what they put on their horses’ backs. I thought that hard-working people who love riding deserved high quality equipment at decent prices and that’s what Longma has been trying to provide for a year now. While I will not compare Longma with Australian master saddle makers, I can say that we’re trying to achieve a level of quality that these people respect.

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NORLHA SHAWLS

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At an altitude of 3200m in Gansu province, the company Norlha produces the most exquisite shawls. These shawls, made mainly of yak wool (khullu), have become much sought after in shops from Paris to Shanghai. Nicely Made in China spoke to the owner, Kim Sciaky-Yeshi, to find out what makes them so special and successful.

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ARK SURFBOARDS

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After the coast of Fujian, Nicely Made in China takes you to the South China Sea to meet Adam Healy one of the two owners of Benpat International. Based in Shek-O on the South-East coast of Hong Kong Island, Benpat makes quality surfboards -as well as kiteboards, skateboards, nipper boards and stand-up paddle boards- all made in China and sells them all over the world. Adam, 26, is Australian and was raised in Hong Kong. He sat with NMiC and explained how surfboards are made.

Adam, can you give us some information about your company?

Benpat International was created in 1990 by John Patkin and I came onboard in 2008. Most of our production is for exports, mainly to Australia, the UK and the US.

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NICOLAS FAVARD-JEWELLER

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Nicolas Favard, a 30-year old Frenchman and an extremely gifted craftsman, has lived in China since 2004. He opened recently a new shop in a quiet street just on the West side of Sanlitun North Village. Nicely Made in China had a conversation with him on how he became a jeweller, what inspires him and the meaning of jewels.

Nicolas, when did  you decide to become a jeweller?

I got the bug when I was 12.  Our teacher told us it was time for us to think about what we wanted to do later in life and I found an article about becoming a jeweller in a book.  The bug hasn’t left me since. Read the rest of this entry »

Mr. GAO ZHENMIN-LUTHIER

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This week Nicely Made in China gives centre stage to Mr Gao ZhenMin, a luthier, owner of Huaming Bass. Mr Gao Zhenmin lives in Hebei and makes his speciality to build and repair double-basses and cellos with his wife, Ms Wen YaXia. NMiC paid him a call in his Hebei workshop where a collection of stringed instruments await his attention between fragrant Sichuan maple and alcohol-based home-made varnish.

When did you open your workshop?

In 2004, after working for 7 years at the oldest Beijing instruments-making factory where I was assembling, adjusting and testing the instruments. While working there I met a lot of music professors who told me there was a niche market in making instruments for high-end classical and jazz musicians. That’s how it started.

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SHANGHAI TRIO / FASHION & ACCESSORIES

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This week Nicely Made in China presents the brand “Shanghai Trio” (上海组合). 12 years old this year “Shanghai Trio” was born in Shanghai as the name suggests. It is now expanding to Beijing and also has a shop in Paris among other places. NMiC spoke to the owner Virginie Fournier.

How did you have the idea to start “Shanghai Trio”?

When I arrived in Shanghai in the middle of the 90’s my head was full of expectations of what I would find in China: the finest silk and  as well as all sort of craftmen working in the streets. Read the rest of this entry »

ELISABETH KOCH-MILLINERY

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This week Nicely Made in China puts a profession under the spotlight: Elisabeth Koch is a milliner – the word originally referred to someone who came from Milan – . The young U.S-born Dutch woman tells NMiC all about her birth as a hat maker and about making headpieces in this part of the world.

Elisabeth, when did you start Elisabeth Koch-Millinery?

I started as soon as I arrived in China 3 years ago. I was coming from Brussels where I was working in the marketing department of major banks.  As soon as I knew that I would be leaving the European Union capital Read the rest of this entry »

BLUE SHANGHAI WHITE

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The Nicely Made in China product of the week is as old as China itself.  Chinese ceramics, since it is ceramics and porcelain we’ll be talking about, are back in fashion again. Hai Chen, Blue Shanghai White owner and main designer grants NMiC an interview.

Hai Chen, how did you become a ceramist and when did you start Blue Shanghai White?

I studied fine arts and ceramics from 1987 to 1991 at the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts and at Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts & Design from 1992 until 1996. I created my company in 2003.

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HUANG YUE – FASHION DESIGNER

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This week we introduce Sichuan-born fashion designer Huang Yue (42).

How long have you been a fashion designer?

I have been a designer for over 10 years. I studied at the the Academy of Arts & Design of Tsinghua University.

We opened the studio in Sanlitun Read the rest of this entry »