In honour of International Women’s Day in March, we’re celebrating the incredible achievements of women around the world, including in Hong Kong. We chatted with half a dozen talented and dynamic female entrepreneurs of different ages and backgrounds about the unique businesses, initiatives and projects they’re involved in here – across fashion, books, homeware, wine, composting and plant -based food! In this instalment, we shine the spotlight on FREDERIEKE VAN DOORN, founder and director of FREY women’s tailoring.
Where are you from and what brought you to Hong Kong?
I’m from the Netherlands; I studied fashion at university in Amsterdam and have worked in high-end fashion, specialising in men’s tailoring, for over 20 years, including 12 in mainland China. We moved to Hong Kong as a family three years ago and travel between here and the mainland when we can. I like to think we have two homes, as my two little ones were born there.
Tell us about your business.
Working in men’s tailoring, I started to realise that women simply did not have the same high quality formal wear options as men. Today, so many women are required to dress formally at work, but we have limited choices available. When COVID-19 began, I was unable to travel to the mainland on a weekly basis, so I had more time to think about tailored women’s wear. I soon recognised the need to create a female tailoring brand that offered women the same level of luxury as men.
FREY officially opened its doors in September 2021 and we offer both an Off The Rack collection (with a variety of comfortable, timeless wardrobe pieces at affordable prices) – and a Create Your Own option.
We understand that on some days you need the power of a navy or black suit, while on other days you want to stand out and shine with a splash of colour. The versatile, feminine styles with playful details have been created with every schedule in mind.
What else sets the brand apart from other tailors?
I’ve always been passionate about creating pieces that require exquisite craftsmanship and utilise natural materials, as the end result is a timeless garment that can be worn comfortably season after season. Purchasing FREY’s clothing contributes to a more sustainable wardrobe, as fabrics are sourced from dead stock and 90 percent of the material is natural and biodegradable.
What’s your role? Give us an insight into a typical working day.
I usually start my day with an early morning workout, then I get ready and drop the kids at school and arrive at the office around 9am. As a young company, we are all hands on deck and no day is ever the same. I’m involved in all areas of the business from sales and marketing, to design and operations.
What are you excited about from a work perspective for 2022?
We’re extremely excited to help more women style up their wardrobe with sustainable, everlasting pieces. We’re also looking to expand to Shanghai in the near future.
Has the pandemic presented a particular challenge?
As a retailer with a flagship store in the city, our foot traffic has suffered. This can be challenging, as when women come to our store, they feel at home. We have a specialised team who help with exact fit and material choice, and an in-house tailor who can alter any off-the-rack pieces, if needed. When a garment fits well, we feel comfortable and empowered. But we do hope to overcome this by letting more women know about our online store where you can shop the full collection.
Outside of work, what are your hobbies in Hong Kong?
I enjoy working out and keeping fit, socialising with friends, and spending time on the water, boating and wake surfing. I love being near the ocean – that’s why we live Southside!
Like this? See more in our International Women’s Day series in our Living in Hong Kong section.
This article first appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.