The co-founder of her eponymous womenswear label on why you should never give up

Cynthia & Xiao may have launched in 2014 but the duo are already making an impression in Hong Kong and China’s thriving fashion scene. Cynthia Mak and Xiao Xiao met in the dormitories of London’s prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, where Cynthia was pursuing a degree in fashion marketing and design, and Xiao was studying knitwear—they became fast friends and soon moved out into their own flat together.

After graduating, they both decided to gain experience in their respective areas with Cynthia doing stints at Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Roksanda Illincic to name a few. After a couple of years of gaining a better understanding of the industry and of the markets, they decided to come together to launch Cynthia & Xiao.

In our latest edition of the Tatler 10, a column where we pose 10 questions to Hong Kong based entrepreneurs about their businesses, we asked Cynthia about the perks of running your own business and what sets her label apart from the rest.  

What does Hong Kong mean to you?

Hong Kong has and always will be home.

Summarise your business in one sentence.

Cynthia & Xiao is a womenswear label that I co-founded with my best friend—to sum up our aesthetic, I guess you could say our use of bold graphics is what we’re best known for.

See also: The Tatler 10 : Kayla Wong

What is your proudest accomplishment?

There are so many unexpected moments that I’m so proud of, the first thing that springs to mind is when we were selected for Asia Vogue Talent to create a capsule collection.

What do you love most about running your own business?

The flexibility of time and being able to do something you love. To create something from scratch and see it grow, I think it gives you a very satisfying feeling. 

What advice can you offer to budding entrepreneurs?

Be patient, positive and work hard. Always have some kind of plan and things will slowly take you in the right direction.

As an entrepreneur, what do you think sets you and your business apart from the competition?

One of our specialisations is in graphic knitwear. There aren’t a lot of brands that do this. We also love playing with handcrafted details such as weaving, which is done completely in-house. Weaving is something that takes a lot of time and patience to do, but it is what also sets us apart and makes us unique.

Who inspires you and why?

I find inspiration in a lot of very different people, however, my father has had a very big impact on me. He is the nicest and most patient person I’ve ever met. He always has a big smile on his face and is full of curiosity. 

See also: The Tatler 10: Harris Chan 


Looking back do you wish you had done anything differently?

Honestly, looking back I wish I had picked up Mandarin when I shared a flat with Xiao in London as the majority of our market is China-focused, I now realise how important it is.

What’s your end goal?

To continue to grow the business and to increase our global presence.

What are your words to live by?

Whatever you do, never give up!

See other Tatler 10 interviews with Elsa Lepeu and Johanna El Iman, Cassandra Choi and Carmen Choi.