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The future of Macao’s economy looks promising in the eyes of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) thanks to the continued growth of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Better connection with neighbouring regions means greater opportunities and local SMEs are moving fast to ride the wave of change.

Fashion fast forward

The manufacturing of clothing was once the backbone of Macao’s economy in the 1980s until the industry started to go downhill later on. That however does not mean the fashion industry has vanished entirely from Macao. Quite the contrary. A new generation of small, individual local brands are now attracting the attention of local fashionistas.

Nega C. Fashion Macau, a homegrown vintage reproduction design house, is one of Macao’s up-and-coming fashion brands. Founded five years ago by local fashion designer Isabella Choi, Nega C. is taking its own spin on vintage-inspired style. Located at Avenida do Ouvidor Arriaga, Nega C.’s stylish boutique dedicates half of its space to in-house designed clothing items, footwear and accessories, whereas the other half of the shop sells imported trendy clothing items from South Korea and other regions around the world.

Nega C.’s own creations are inspired by fashion trends in England, where Ms Choi pursued her degree in fashion design. “Vintage elements, floral prints, playful colours and feminine touches are the signatures of my creations. Our production line is in small runs. Every piece of clothing is well-made with durable fabrics under very strict quality control at our production studio, so what we offer are perfect for sophisticated shoppers who seek fine details,” explained Ms Choi, Creative Director of the brand.

The vibrant clothing racks at Nega C. are full of clothes in all different shapes, colours and details. They are anything but dark and dull. The best way to keep customers interested, is to keep up the hype and excitement of new products, Ms Choi said.

Nega C. launches a new collection every one to two months and introduces 60 to 70 new styles every season. “From design to production, retail to marketing, I’m involved in the front and back line of the business, which enables me to understand the market trends and determine better strategies for promoting sales, cutting costs and bringing in new opportunities,” Ms Choi told Macao Image.

Fast fashion and a growing online shopping culture have dramatically changed the global retail landscape. Moving fast at lower prices leads to major competition among brands and sellers. To cope with the fast-changing business environment, Nega C. is planning on establishing their presence online. “Pinkoi is a renowned platform for original designer brands. We’re preparing to join the platform and start selling overseas through the partnership,” said Ms Choi.

Jumping into a competitive environment requires a lot of effort, and Nega C. believes marketing is where their focus needs to be. “Brand awareness can lead to sales opportunities and much more. Currently, we are upscaling our marketing strategies through online ads and active participation in trade fairs. Through these means, we hope to connect with more potential buyers and lead to greater brand development in the long run,” she added.

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“Pinkoi is a renowned platform for original designer brands. We’re preparing to join the platform and start selling overseas through the partnership.” Isabella Choi, Founder of Nega C. Fashion Macau

Southeast Asian flavour in Macao

“The Three Lamps” area near Rotunda de Carlos da Maia is home to many overseas Chinese from Southeast Asia who have returned to Macao to live. Visitors to “The Three Lamps” will discover the area dotted with colourful little eateries and mini-supermarkets offering authentic Southeast Asian delicacies, dry goods and ingredients.

The flavours of Myanmar are very popular among both local and foreign workers in Macao. Every afternoon, you will see a long queue of people waiting to get into QQ Food World – a tiny grocery store at Rua da Madre Terezina. The shop offers a few hundred varieties of ingredients, spices, snacks and dry goods from Myanmar and its neighbouring countries. Among the long list of products, QQ Food World’s homemade belacan sauces – a type of shrimp paste – are without doubt, their best-sellers.

“We’ve developed various recipes with localised flavours. For belacan, we always source the highest quality dried shrimps from Myanmar to ensure the best taste,” explained Sanny Lou, Chairman of QQ Food World. Mr Lou is Chinese and has returned to Macao from Myanmar. In 2007, he started his own Southeast Asian food product wholesale business and runs a small Myanmar eatery in “The Three Lamps” area.

Taking the original belacan recipe, QQ Food World made a few more tweaks to create a few more varieties such as dried fish belacan, dried beef belacan, dried squid belacan and XO sauce belacan. “Southeast Asians love belacan, which can be mixed with noodles and rice, and work as an enhancer to countless dishes. Basically, no meal is complete without belacan,” Mr Lou said. As more and more people are concerned about leading healthier lifestyles, one of QQ Food World’s goals is to launch their first-ever vegetarian belacan product made of mushrooms in the near future for their vegetarian customers.

Belacan is also becoming more appealing to the Mainland Chinese, so Macao’s very own master of belacan sauce plans to seize this opportunity to export his products to the Mainland China market.

“We are actively participating in tradeshows throughout different Chinese cities to promote our products, and we are also working on expanding our production line in a modern factory space,” Mr Lou told Macao Image. “On top of this, we are also launching our products on Taobao and opening another small eatery near the Red Market. I believe these moves will definitely have a positive influence on our future developments.”

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“We are actively participating in tradeshows throughout different Chinese cities to promote our products, and we are also working on expanding our production line in a modern factory space.” Sanny Lou, Chairman of QQ Food World