Michelle Lai, founder of local accessories brand Mischa, talks about the challenges of running an independent fashion label in Hong Kong. What is the concept behind your current pop-up at PMQ? “It’s called Cabinet of Curiosities – I’ve always wanted my own greenhouse and I have a habit of trawling antique shops for treasures. That, and visiting lots of botanical gardens, was the inspiration behind the spring-summer 2015 collection. We’re presenting brands we’ve found and love.” Travel is an important part of your lifestyle. What are your favourite destinations? “Travelling takes me out of my comfort zone. Paris and Kyoto are my favourite places to get inspiration. Everything from the sights, people, food, architecture, fashion and music trigger ideas. I spend a lot of time in markets, temples, parks, museums, hanging out in cafés and meeting friends. And I’m a beach bum when it comes to ‘unplugging’. Once a year I go on a yoga detox holiday, which is actually hard work but very necessary.” What do you never leave home without? “My phone and one of my bags. It’s a shame how much I’ve come to rely on my phone, but it allows me to work from anywhere. Like right now, I’m writing up these answers in a café in New York while it’s snowing outside!” What is the reality of running an independent fashion label in Hong Kong? “It’s stressful, you make a lot of sacrifices and you don’t ever switch off. It’s a challenge to balance different aspects of a creative business and life. I don’t want to complain too much because I get to do things on my own terms and meet so many amazing people. If your heart can handle it, it’s a roller-coaster ride every day.” What are your long-term plans for Mischa? “I started with handbags but I think that’s just the beginning. I want it to become a lifestyle brand encompassing more product categories. Eventually, I want it to incorporate aspects of wellness and education. We’re launching our own scented candles and there’s more to come.” You started off by selling clutches made from vintage obis. Tell us how Mischa has evolved. “The vintage obi clutch bags spoke to women who appreciate a touch of artisanal craftsmanship. Those women have become muses for Mischa. They’re on the move, have great personal style, shop both luxury and high street and know what they want. I wanted to create something that was the essence of my passion project but fitted alongside my/their everyday needs and could have longevity. It’s been four years since the launch of my signature hexagon-printed Travel Series; you can spot us in cities around the world. It’s much more than I had imagined.” Mischa’s pop-up, Cabinet of Curiosities, runs until the end of this month at Kapok, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, tel: 2858 8170.