Service and Trade Innovation: China's Hangzhou city helps UK small businesses
In Nottingham, central England, a cultural and creative exchange center has been praised as a launch pad for service and trade innovation. It's been a starting point for businesses and artists from eastern China's Hangzhou city to showcase their products and explore the British market. Xi Jia tells us how it is also helping change the fate of some small businesses in the UK.
DEBBIE BRYAN Designer and Company Director "So that was my first experience. We nearly sold out. We didn't sell everything, but we nearly sold everything. So, that was really a special experience for us. And then we were in trade. We were like 'okay, so we've been successful, so what now'?"
Debbie Bryan started her business in 2007. Two years later, she set up this small gallery near Nottingham's Lace Market. She says it never occurred to her then that China would become one of her main markets.
DEBBIE BRYAN Designer and Company Director "I think this opportunity has only happened because of the cooperation of the center of Hangzhou, and because of the special relationship between Nottingham and Hangzhou. I think it's highly likely there wouldn't be any opportunity for us if we haven't got on that first trip of thing."
Debbie had a chance meeting with a Nottingham City Council employee, who recommended that she join a collaborative project between the council and eastern China's Hangzhou city.
DR. JASON YU China Relations Manager Hangzhou Cultural & Creative Industry Exchange Center "Under the support of Hangzhou Government, we recently established the Hangzhou Creative Industries and Cultural Exchange Centre (Fusion) in Nottingham. This has become the gateway of promoting services and businesses between China and the UK. As a result, we have successfully delivered at least 5 missions to Ningbo and Hangzhou, and supported over 50 local businesses to attend the International Creative Industries Expo in both cities."
The center has introduced nearly 40 Hangzhou brands to the European market. It has also led to regular business exchanges between artists and organizations from Europe and Hangzhou.
Debbie, for example, has traveled to Hangzhou four times over the past two years, attending events like the Cultural and Creative Industry Expo and China Craft Week.
XI JIA London "Attending these events has helped Debbie expand her customer base. Her WeChat contact list now consists of more than 800 Chinese customers. She has also taken 40 independent artists and designers under her wing to make crafts for her exhibition trips to China."
DEBBIE BRYAN Designer and Company Director "Our core value and our core idea is just maybe amplified when we have been at the show and I think businesses who get opportunity to work with Hangzhou should grab with both hands. They should see the real opportunity actually to develop their business practices beyond what you could ever imagine."
Debbie says she has gotten much more from the collaboration than just a boost in business. She says a renewed understanding of a different culture and civilization has changed her life forever. Xi Jia, CGTN, London.
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