PMQ Corner #17

M for Mommy, Not for Monster

513 Paint Shop

Written by Kit Chan
Translated by v_p
Photos by Kit Chan

Maybe it’s mere coincidence, maybe it’s meant to be, Eunice’s business always had something to do with kids.

It all grew from the love for a sweet pea. A friend of Eunice, who is a French painter, wanted to paint a baby chair as a gift for his newborn niece, but could not find any 100% natural, kid-safe paint in Hong Kong.

Eunice, who was an interior designer then, saved the day by ordering an eco-paint from Iceland and Sweden for her friend, which later sprung into a business venture. Together with a female partner, the duo opened a shop to sell this one-of-a-kind paint in Hong Kong, free from harmful VOC (Volatile organic compound), such as formaldehyde and benzene. With a high vapour pressure at room temperature, an oversaturation of VOC could cause allergies, watery eyes, headache, long term damage to the liver, kidneys and nerves, and increase the risk of cancer.

VOC is one of the usual suspects that leads to Sick Building Syndrome, a much talked about issue in recent years. While most people are aware of the harm of paint, what they don’t know is that VOC stays in the air even when the smell is gone. “One year after renovation, half of the VOC is still around, even if you can’t smell anything, it can still affect your health.” Eunice explains.

The paint shop is as elegant as a grocery in Europe, with paint canned up like little jars of jam, all mixed uniquely by Eunice, with romantic and imaginative names: “Marshmallow” stands for white paint, while “Banana Split” is bright yellow, “Figue” is for violet, and “Camomille” is beige… how about “Typewriter”? Light Grey, that is!

Paints are sold in small jars, making it easier for customers to try them out at home. 100ml of paint would be enough to decorate half a wall, a piece of furniture or tote bag, renovating your home without wasting too much paint.

Since business started, many of Eunice’s customers were mothers who care about their children’s health; and within half a year, Eunice fell pregnant too. Suddenly realizing what being a mother is all about, it changed her perspective as a shop owner to a mother, just like her clients.

“It was quite scary.” Eunice smiled with moony eyes. “I kept surfing the net and making friends with other mothers, our conversation just goes on and on.”

The paint shop business that started off as an impromptu also became more personal. “When you think about it, having natural and harmless furniture is definitely not enough to raise a child.”

Eunice did not turn into another monster parent. What her concern was not which playgroup or classes to take to pave way for her children’s future, but the environment they are growing up in.

“Very often in restaurants, I would see parents busy gazing at their smartphones, while their son is babysitted by an iPad!” Eunice does not see this eye to eye. “If children are used to getting what they want by pushing a button, just imagine what kind of person would they become!”

She would rather keep the children’s world as old fashioned and simple as possible. There is a special corner in her shop for them, filled with nostalgic and traditional handicraft, such as coloring books, eco-friendly wooden toys, detective riddles and simple do-it-yourself artwork.

They also started holding family workshops, encouraging parents to do artwork with their children, even as simple as doodling. “At least their eyes can rest and leave their little screens for a while, sharing an experience and moment by completing a task together.”

She understands that a lot of modern couples have reservations on raising children, even her own mother. “To her, the world is in a mess, there’s way too many people, which would just make life and harder for kids.”

Nevertheless, Eunice chooses to believe that life is a circle, and there is always light at the end of the tunnel. “I would try my best to raise my son as a good person, so that he could contribute something good to the world in future, and not be a victim.”

Her son is one and a half years old, getting a grip of his little brush, slowly filling in the white paper Mommy gave him, with flying colors.

Address:513 Paint Shop, S513, 5/F, Staunton, PMQ

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