An­son Shum

Co-founder of Ookonn lug­gage

Prestige Hong Kong - 40 under 40 - - Contents -

When we heard two years ago that PR guy An­son Shum was shift­ing gears in his suc­cess­ful ca­reer to launch a line of lug­gage and travel ac­ces­sories, we thought he’d lost his mar­bles. How wrong we were. Co-founded with two part­ners, the Ookonn brand now sells in 16 coun­tries via part­ners that in­clude Neta-porter, Lane Craw­ford, 10 Corso Como, Shine and Kapok, while Shum’s in­no­va­tive and fun cir­cu­lar lug­gage has been fea­tured in sev­eral de­sign an­tholo­gies. It seems he’s hit all the right spots.

“As there’s no proven track telling you what you should and shouldn’t do, it turned out OK,” Shum says. “Be­ing in a start-up is like an ex­per­i­ment — chal­lenges arise on a daily ba­sis. Not a day goes by with­out some is­sues, so we just have to learn to be friends with chal­lenges.

“Run­ning your own busi­ness puts you in a unique po­si­tion of be­ing able to cre­ate the life you want. Some­times it’s scary, but at the same time it’s also what makes it so in­ter­est­ing.”

What was the im­pe­tus to shift gears when things had been go­ing so well? “PR was only one of the many phases of my en­tire ca­reer path,” says Shum, who stud­ied fash­ion de­sign at Cen­tral Saint Martins in London. “I’ve worked as a sales as­sis­tant, a vis­ual mer­chan­diser and fash­ion de­signer. Ookonn is a won­der­ful play­ground where I and my co-founders can make use of the skills we’ve learned over the years. It was like a dream-cometrue mo­ment. How could I re­sist?”

Be­fore tak­ing a leap, Shum rec­om­mends care­ful plan­ning, but not over­think­ing to the point of sti­fling am­bi­tion. “I be­lieve that we’re our own big­gest sup­porter — or our own worst de­trac­tor. [My part­ners and I] al­ways had this idea of start­ing a busi­ness to­gether since col­lege days — we didn’t know ex­actly what and when, but we’d talk about it from time to time, so I guess Ookonn is a re­sult of all the suit­able con­di­tions that came to­gether a decade later, and ripened.”

When con­sid­er­ing the other busi­ness peo­ple on our 40 Un­der 40 list, Shum ad­mits that he finds mul­ti­task­ing dif­fi­cult. “That’s why I al­ways ad­mire those se­rial en­trepreneurs,” he says. “For me, to do one thing and do it well is chal­leng­ing enough. But I’m sure every­one has their own chal­lenges — it’s ris­ing to the chal­lenge that makes one a suc­cess.”

“Run­ning your own busi­ness puts you in a unique po­si­tion of be­ing able to cre­ate the life you want. Some­times it’s scary”

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