Dream Catcher // 追尋夢想,尋著夢想

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As the saying goes, “if you never CHASE your dream, you will never CATCH them.”  Stephen
shares with us how God gave him the vision and courage to start up a children’s brand called As Little As. Let’s chase after the dream of our hearts that God has pre-destined for us as you partner with Him on the journey!

俗語有說:「如果你不去追夢,又怎能够達到夢想呢?」Stephen和我們分享神如何給他異象和信心去開創名爲As Little As的童裝品牌。讓我們也追尋神放于我們心上的夢想,在人生的旅途上與祂同行!

Giving Up On My Dream

My name is Stephen. My family has always been in the business of manufacturing female knitwear, which explains my deep interest in garments, but I never dreamed of establishing my own children’s clothing brand.

I was born into a well to do family and I was the youngest.  When I was in my teens, I immigrated to Toronto in Canada with my family. My grades were mediocre.  I lacked confidence and was rather introverted.  I only liked art and idling in my daydreams.

One of my first dreams before entering university was to enter the show business.  While I was very introverted, I had this desire to showcase myself.  I really wanted to join the talent recruiting programorganized by the local TV broadcaster but I knew that my family would definitely be against it so I just gave up on this dream.  I ended up attending  University of Toronto to study a subject that only required me to communicate with machines – computer science.

During my university years, I attended a Christian conference with my high school friends and I gave my life to Jesus.  However, at that time, I was not in a serious pursuit of faith.  After a while, I began going to church less and less frequently.  Until the year 2000, after I moved back to Hong Kong, I started to attend North Point Alliance Church and began to gain a deeper understanding of God and what it means to believe in Him.

After graduation, I worked in the computer science industry for a couple of years.  However, I started feeling lost and kept questioning myself whether this was really my dream.

I was almost 30 at that time.  I thought, “What if I attend the talent recruiting program and become an actor? Way too old for this now!”  Nevertheless, I still decided to give it a go.  However, after a couple setbacks in the process, I again thought of giving up.  Also, no one supported me so I once again officially gave up on this dream.  At the end, as a matter of course and also the easiest route, I joined my family’s female garment business.

 

Returning to Family Business

Because our family business had been established for years and it was of a certain scale, work was rather monotonous. I was mainly in charge of the brand image and marketing.  At first, I felt like this job could utilize my artistic skills and talent, but as time went by, I realized that I wasn’t very interested in woman’s clothing at all.  Nevertheless, I thought to myself, “Whatever! I don’t know what I can do anyway and how else I could be in a managerial position, I will just keep doing this for now.”  And just like that, I was at this job for six years.

Six years later, I felt lost once again.  I felt that life was too calm.  I wondered if my life would just calmly pass me by.  Was this how God wanted me to live my life?  When I grew older, what kind of story would I have to tell my grandchildren?

So, at the age of 35, I was determined to leave my calm and steady life, leave my family business in search of my dream once again…

 

Chasing After My Dream

When I left my family business, my eldest son had just been born, so I had a lot more time on my hands to both take care of him as well as think about possibilities ahead.

At that time, it felt like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Should I become an actor? It would be a joke to even think about or consider acting at 35! Should I start my own business? What about a Japanese hot pot restaurant? Camera trading business? Camera supplier? A magazine targeting camera-frenzy ladies?! I was on the verge of turning crazy (literally) after brainstorming idea after idea. A year passed by and I still couldn’t find my “dream”.

I kept thinking and pondering, and finally, on Christmas Eve, I decided not to use my own wisdom anymore but to lay down all that I had to God and let him guide me.

The Lord led me to this verse shortly after:

“Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

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The pure heart of a child is what adults in today’s world lack the most. It is actually the parents’ task to pick clothes for their beloved child, so I really wanted to create a children’s brand to share “God’s love” and “the gospel message” to young children. At the same time, my vision was to extend this invitation of love to adults and for them to encounter a personal revelation of a pure heart and the importance of the gospel message. From that God-given vision, “As Little As” became the brand name. From that day forward, I finally found my dream!

 

Persevering Towards My Dream

Creating my own brand name as an entrepreneur was not without challenges. Basically most of my family and friends were against the idea. But I thought, since God gave me that vision, shouldn’t I persevere and trust in the HIM to make my paths straight?! To top it all up, I was already in my mid-thirties, so if I did not passionately fight for my dream and persevere now, I was afraid I would not have the courage to chase my dream later on!

When I first started this brand, I faced many challenges from the nitty-gritty design work to finding reliable factories to partner with. On top of that, the designer who initially joined suddenly resigned. Everything seemed so out of my control and unexpected and on certain days I doubted whether I really heard God’s voice. I knew that people around me probably thought with my character, I probably would give up sooner or later.

Just when I was close to giving up, I met a professional designer by the name Jovi who was also a Christian! I must say, that the process of Jovi joining the As Little As team is a miraculous act of God. Given that As Little As was just a start-up company with many uncertainties, with Jovi’s extensive experience, it was not likely for her to stay here. However after generously helping out for a couple of weeks, she felt that the Lord called her to stay at As Little As and she officially joined our team!

The hard work finally paid off! Although timing was a little late, we finally launched our first Autumn Winter collection. However at the time, we did not have a sales point. At the time, without a sales hot spot, the thought of giving up came back again. However, I thought again, and decided that if did not passionately pursue my dream now, fight and persevere, I may never have a chance to make this dream come true!

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The Fruits of Perseverance

After four months of waiting (it felt like four years to be honest!), right before winter 2012 came to an end, with the help of our Heavenly Father, family and friends, another miracle happened! Our children’s collection was finally being sold at two major department stores!

In addition, people around town started getting to know more about this children’s brand that was filled with love. Every time I saw the little ones wearing our collection, I would get a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart and couldn’t help but give thanks to our Heavenly Father.

Nonetheless, we are still in our small and humble beginnings, there is still a long road ahead, I believe there will be new challenges big and small waiting ahead for us to conquer! But for the sake of every little child’s and “big child’s” (aka adults) dream, our team will continue to trust in our Heavenly Father to persevere!

“What about you? For the sake of your dream, how far are you willing to go?” (**quote from the movie “The Way We Dance”)

For more details about the brand As Little As, visit their website at: www.as-little-as.com/about-us.html

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放棄夢想?》

我是Stephen, 因爲家族做著針織女裝生意 ,從小就已經與服裝結緣,但從沒想過會創立自家的童裝品牌。

我生長于一個小康之家,在家中排行最小,在初中時跟家人移居加拿大多倫多。成績一直也是中等, 缺乏自信,又有點自我封閉,只喜歡藝術及在自已的世界裏發白日夢。

我第一個的夢想可算是入大學前所做的演藝夢, 雖然自我封閉,但不知爲何卻很有表演慾, 很想加入演藝訓練班,但因感覺自己的親人必定會反對,所以便輕易地放棄了這個夢想。最後在多倫多大學選了只需要與機器溝通的電腦科。

而我是在大學期間,跟着自已的中學同學在多倫多的一個佈道會,決志信主,但當時對信仰沒有很認真的追尋,過了一些日子,便少了返教會聚會。直至我在2000年,回流香港後,才在宣道會北角堂回轉及對信仰有更深入的認識。

畢業後從事了幾年有關電腦的工作,並開始有點迷失,不禁問這真是我的理想嗎?

可是當時的我已將近三十歲, 心想:「莫非現在才去參加藝人訓練班做演員?超齡了吧!」但最後也有嘗試,但為了一兩次的碰釘子,便又想「算了」。也因沒有人支持,便再一次正式放棄了。在這之後因著 順理成章而且最容易,便進入了家族的針織女裝生意。

 

《回歸家族生意》

在家族生意中,因公司已有多年的歷史,而且具有相當的規模,所以工作都比較優閑,我主要負責品牌形象及市場推廣的工作。最初也覺得這份工作可用到我的藝術細胞,但是漸漸地覺得自已對女裝的興趣不大,可是心想「算了吧,反正都不知道有什麼可以做,又可以有一點權力管理員工,暫時先做著吧。」沒想到一做便做了六年。

六年過後,我再一次迷失,發覺生命太安逸,想起莫非一生就這樣安逸地渡過?神是否要我就這樣生活下去?那我年老時,又可以跟自已的子孫訴說一個關於自已什麼的故事呢?

因此在我三十五歲時,便毅然捨棄安逸,離開家族生意,嘗試再一次去找尋夢想…

 

《找尋夢想,尋著夢想》

離開時,我的大兒子剛出生不久,因此有了更多的時間照顧他,而其他時間便用作不斷思考自已未來的方向。

當時實在有點像大海撈針的感覺。做演員?這個年紀才開始不免給人貽笑大方! 做生意?日式火煱店?燒烤店?相機買賣?相機批發?女性相機雜誌?!當時實在想到快傻了!幾乎有一年多尋尋覓覓都找不著夢想。

想來想去也想不通,最後在聖誕節前夕,我決定不再用自已的智慧,放下一切交給天上的父。

接著我便從聖經看到以下經文:「我實在告訴你們,你們若不回轉,變成小孩子的樣式 (as little children),斷不得進天國。」(馬太福音18:3)

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當時我想,小孩子的赤子之心,正是我們成年人常常失落了的。而挑選衣服給小孩子,主要也是家長,故此我便想用自家品牌設計的童裝來把「神的愛」和「福音」的好訊息傳遞給小孩子,同時亦希望大朋友也能從中領悟到赤子之心和福音的重要。因從這理念命名,所以as little as 就成為這品牌的名稱,這刻開始,我終於找到夢想了!

 

《堅持夢想》

但開發童裝品牌的這個概念,基本上大部份家中成員及親戚朋友都反對,不過我想,神給了我這個異像,我能否堅持讓神帶領我去行前面不明的路?!況且人已到中年,若不再爲自己夢想「熱血地」奮鬥和堅持, 恐怕以後就再沒有勇氣追求夢想了。

剛開始開發品牌時,設計丶尋找工廠等都遇到重重困難,再加上設計師突然離職,一切比想象中困難多倍,因此不禁常常懷疑自己是否聽錯神的聲音。大家心中必定想,從前的我如此容易放棄的性格,應該會放棄吧。

正當接近放棄的時候,我遇上一位同樣是基督徒的專業設計師﹣Jovi!Jovi 加入的過程,我會用「神蹟」來形容。因為以她的資歷,本應不會留在我這間小型及前景未明的公司工作,但她卻在「仗義」幫忙做了數星期後,她告訴我認為天父呼召她留在這公司,而Jovi亦正式加入了。

憑藉著大家的努力,雖然出貨期是延遲了一點,但最終也把第一批秋冬的服裝製作完成,只可惜原本計劃銷售的地點都沒有了。當時對著那麼多的製成品,沒有銷售的地點,放棄的念頭再一次湧上我心頭。不過一再細想,若不以自己夢想「超級熱血地」奮鬥和堅持,恐怕以後再沒有機會了。

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堅持夢想所帶來的收穫 》

經過差不多四個月的等候(感覺尤如四年之久),在2012年冬季結束之前,因得到天父,家人,朋友的幫助, 奇蹟再一次出現!我們的童裝終於在兩大百貨公司開買了… 並且漸漸開始有人認識這充滿愛的小小童裝品牌。每當在街上看到有小朋友穿著 我們設計的童裝,心中便有感恩及一份暖暖的感覺!

然而,現在還只是剛起步的時候,前面尚有一條漫漫長路,相信仍然會有大大小小不同的挑戰在等著。但爲了一個可以讓小孩子和大朋友都蒙福的夢想,相信我和這團隊,必定會靠着天父堅持下去!

你呢?爲了你的夢想,你可以去到幾盡?(**套用電影《狂舞派》的對白)

想了解更多關於 As Little As 的資料,請瀏覽他們的網頁:www.as-little-as.com/about-us.html

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