Ich bin ein Hongkonger. Berliner sees plenty of space to spread her wings

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 April, 2010, 12:00am

Not every new immigrant to Hong Kong is from the mainland. Some expats, like ex-Berliner Ulrike Pohl, arrive here because they like the accelerated pace of our entrepreneurial fast lane. Since touching down less than nine months ago, she's not only started a business but leased a four-storey building at 39 Staunton Street to house a coffee shop, fashion and gift boutique and an art gallery.

'I come from a family of entrepreneurs,' the former architect says. 'I was the head of a company. Then I sold it and wanted to do something else. I have some great friends here and I'd come for a visit a couple of times and love the place, so I just decided to move here. I always wanted to do a retail store so I created a business plan. I source everything myself - some Japanese stuff, some from LA, some Germany - but everything is picked by me.'

Her concept boutique Forest Bird - from a line in a Henrik Ibsen play: 'a forest bird never wants a cage' - opened its door last Wednesday night for a party on the building's roof. It was DJ'd by the gallery's current featured artist and a fellow Berliner, who goes by the moniker of Nomad. Pohl may be impulsive but obviously this forest bird feels Hong Kong's concrete forest is where she can spread her wings. 'The place is organic. It's nasty and pretty, people are open-minded. I feel super comfortable here. Berlin is cool but there's no money. Europe is fed up with everything. Things are new here.'