Wendy Siu Sheung-yuen is an old-fashioned girl. Born in Hong Kong and educated in the US, she became a sales manager at British Telecom International, then business development director of General Electric, Hong Kong. She excelled in both positions. But when she fell in love with investment banker Anthony Siu, like a good Chinese girl she gave up her job to become a tai-tai. But her business training and acumen could not be suppressed for long. She formed a company in 1997 to sell the accessories of a wealthy life-style: crystal, fine china, silver and linen. Her company, Heather and March, became a member of Le Comite Colbert, the association of French luxury companies. Recently, she was awarded the highest civilian honour of France, the Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Merite by President Jacques Chirac. She is only the ninth person in Hong Kong to receive the honour. Asked how she managed to make a success of a luxury business during a time of recession in the retail trade, she said the secret was active promotion and marketing. She partnered with the French Trade Commission in arranging a series of cooking, lifestyle and etiquette classes at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, when notable French chefs demonstrated their dishes and she lectured on dinner parties, table settings and home decoration. She organised several dinner parties at the residence of the French Consul-General Serge Mostura and invited leaders of industry, society and government. 'There is more to life than working for a big corporation, so when I married I decided to become a home-maker and planned a family,' she sid. 'Although I had a successful career, I am at heart a homebody. 'Then I travelled in England and France and saw the opportunity to introduce beautiful things to Hong Kong people and to shape their tastes in home decoration. I began by importing English china and crystal, but became seduced by French products and the French l'art de vivre.' At first it was a home-based business. Then she opened a showcase in the Ritz Carlton Hotel and later a small shop in the Prince's Building. A year ago, she opened a spacious shop on the first floor. 'It took me upwards of two years to break even, but now we are making a modest profit and the future looks hopeful.'