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PEOPLE

Local Passion Projects to Inspire You to Start Your Own

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• The founders of Streetsignhk, Hong Kong Shifts and Soulistic share their stories to inspire you to start your own passion project.

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Sure, you might already have a day job, but a passion project can bring a host of benefits: it keeps you motivated, helps relieve stress, fosters personal growth, and makes you happy. But as something additional to your current role, how do you get started and what will keep you going? Take inspiration from these incredible local passion project owners.

Ken Fung and Kevin Mak, Co-founders of Streetsignhk

Their profession: architects

Their passion project: Streetsignhk, a cultural conservation platform that promotes and preserves Hong Kong’s signboard streetscape through photography and exhibitions

Their story:
Ken: “As an architect born and raised in Hong Kong, I’m passionate about contributing to the urban environment here. However, the projects at my day job are mostly overseas, so I felt my work was quite detached from the city. This has changed with Streetsignhk. It began with a fascination for the local signboard culture, which has been disappearing due to new building regulations. That led us to set up a platform in 2017 to raise awareness and facilitate rescue actions. In a way, this project has connected me with my own city.”

Kevin: “When we first got started, we didn’t know how much we’d be able to do, from handling signage rescues to meeting supporters. Everything just happened naturally. The project has opened up ways to step up conservation actions on top of simply photographing signboards. This keeps reminding me to get out of my comfort zone and stay open to new perspectives.”

Their tip: “Identify what you really care about. Then, find opportunities to take the first action in that field – you’ll learn what you need as you progress.”

Cynthia Cheng, Co-founder of Hong Kong Shifts

Her profession: lawyer and design and communications consultant

Her passion project: Hong Kong Shifts, a social impact storytelling platform that shines a spotlight on shift workers

Her story:

“We all have a number of passions that may not appear to be connected – mine are writing, social impact and Hong Kong – but if we keep doing what we enjoy, they’ll eventually converge. In my case, it all came together two years ago when I co-founded Hong Kong Shifts with lawyer and photographer Maxime Vanhollebeke.

The idea was born when we realised that shift workers (like cleaners, taxi drivers, and stall vendors) are often taken for granted despite their hard work to keep our city running. So, we wanted to share the stories of these unsung heroes. Since then, we’ve profiled over 100 people.

The project has connected me with many inspiring individuals. It’s also boosted my confidence – as an introvert, the idea of approaching strangers was daunting; but I’ve learnt that we can connect with anyone, as long as we approach the interaction with openness, curiosity and respect.”

Her tip: “Don’t let your passions become burdens! Take regular breaks and allow yourself some healthy distance from your project every now and then.”

Tiffany Lau, Founder and Chef Owner of Soulistic

Her profession: event manager and producer

Her passion project: Soulistic, an online vegan shop with a focus on wholesome snacks

Her story:

“I used to have a food blog as I’d always enjoyed eating. But I also felt that something was missing – a purpose. It wasn’t until after I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety that I discovered my passion for healthy cooking. Having experienced the side effects of antidepressants, I looked into the relationship between diet and mental health, and experienced first-hand the positive effects of veganism. It then became my purpose to help others with similar problems. So, I went to culinary school, studied nutrition, and launched Soulistic in 2019.

Running Soulistic while keeping my main job is challenging, but it’s really trained my focus and time management skills. I’ve had to learn to say no more often, which is something I struggled with before. And even though it’s been a stress test, I’ve also become more resilient – doing what I love gives me a sense of fulfilment that keeps me going.”

Her tip:
“Having a side hustle is demanding, so keep your support circle close! You don’t have to do it alone.”
What else can passion bring out in you? Find out from FWD’s Jeff Wong as he shares more on the Power of Passion.

Do you have a passion for music and theatre? PROJECT AFTER 6 is returning soon with a new musical production! Find out more in our interview with director Lindsey McAlister.
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