Kristy Tong loves soya beans so much she's made them part of a healthy business practice. Designs for Mulberry Moments, her growing line of charming and quirky greeting cards, are printed using soya-based ink on recycled card and are easily biodegradable.
We all feel good about separating our paper products to put into the recycling bin but the fine print is that 'regular ink is made from petroleum, [which] takes a long time to break down, cannot be reused and is toxic to the environment', the Hong Kong native says.
'Vegetable-based ink is a lot easier to separate from paper [in the recycling process] and much gentler on the environment when it breaks down. There are chemicals in it but a fraction of what you would find in 'normal' ink.'
Tong has found only a handful of printers in Hong Kong who carry soya-based ink, unlike in the United States where 95 per cent of newspapers (with circulations of more than 1,500) use soya-based ink. Even though it is more expensive, Tong chooses to print locally to avoid shipping; she keeps the costs down by using every square metre of the cardstock possible and eliminating paper wastage. Tong prefers the look of the soya colours, finding them 'stronger and more vibrant'.
The best ideas for business start from personal need and Mulberry Moment is no exception.
'When I first came back to Hong Kong [from New Zealand] and got sucked into the career life, a lot of my relationships were neglected or fizzled out. When an overseas friend had a birthday or special occasion, I could never find nice cards that were affordable, so I'd end up sending a quick e-mail.
'The reason I wanted to do these cards and a stationery line was to re-instil that personal touch in connecting with loved ones. I started sending home-made cards and messages to friends and colleagues and the feedback was good.'
So good, in fact, that a series of whimsical caricatures - which Tong calls her 'momumen' - began to populate her cards.
Mulberry Moment cards and stationery are available at Graze cafe (G/F, Chao's Building, 143 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, tel: 2850 7766) and through www.mulberrymoment.com.