Hip new store keeps it green, street-smart

Updated: 2011-05-17 19:01

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

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Hip new store keeps it green, street-smart

Cheng Yang, one of the founders of Begins, says he and his partners chose Beijing as the place to set up shop because it accepts different cultures from all over China. Zhou Bichang, a singer and a former Supergirl runner-up, is also one of the shop's owners. Photos by Zou Hong / China Daily

Hip new store keeps it green, street-smart

As well as clothes and shoes, the store sells cups, umbrellas and bags to attract customers to a natural and simple lifestyle.

Shared passions inspire partners to make a dream career come true

Roaming along Gulou Dongdajie, visitors see many fashionable stores but a new one with striking decorations, a famous co-owner and environmentally friendly operating methods is attracting a lot of attention.

The store, which is called Begins and has been open since May 6, looks like a vintage subway carriage full of items in the style of the American west.

The store, which first caught attention through a micro blog at the start of April, was founded by three young people who have a great passion for street culture, a free and relaxed lifestyle, and for trying new things.

The first and most famous of the three, Zhou Bichang, a singer and a former Supergirl runner-up, told METRO that for her Begins is a dream come true.

"I have always been addicted to street culture, especially fashionable sports shoes," Zhou said. "I wanted to open my own store when I was in college, but I didn't get a chance to do that until I met Lin Zijun."

Lin, 26, a cofounder member who also likes sneakers, met Zhou in 2008 and quickly learned that they shared a passion for street culture. They soon began to discuss opening their own store.

"We both think that what suits you is the best choice, instead of blindly pursuing trends," an excited Lin said. "People should try to achieve their goals rather than hesitate or just daydream about them.

"We don't want our store to be full of complicated and luxurious products. What we want to promote is a return to nature, to transmit a positive spirit to people who often face great pressures in a big city and are always bound by having to wear work uniforms."

Lin said the store also aimed at providing a space for office workers to relax and enjoy street culture.

Eventually, Cheng Yang, a journalist working for a fashionable magazine under the Guangzhou Daily, interviewed Zhou last year and expressed an interest in joining them in the shop venture.

"So we three finally invested in this store," he said. "We chose Beijing as the place where we would start this career because it's a city that accepts different cultures from all over China."

Begins provides environmentally friendly bags for customers and on the first Friday of each month it promotes green ideas or holds parties that focus on environmental protection.

"In our latest activity, we organized customers to plant trees in the countryside around Beijing to compensate for the carbon emissions produced by our store," Cheng said.

The name Begins refers to the fact that people tend to stay passionate about the things they like at first sight.

Cheng said that as well as clothes and shoes, the store sells cups, umbrellas and bags, because street culture is about a natural and simple lifestyle not just about clothes.

"We hope Begins can have a unique voice among similar stores and can attract older people who want to keep an eye on street culture," Cheng said.

"After all, only innovative product designs and good operating methods can ensure a bright future for Begins, and that is the biggest concern for us, especially Zhou."


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