Bringing China To Waimea
By Wei Wei Shen
Owner Hidden Dragon Imports
Tell us about your business. I sell unique items hand-picked from Asia. I have vintage and new products, as well as teas like jade, handmade teapots and artwork like embroidered scrolls. I’ve been in business in Waimea for seven years.
Where are you from? Shanghai, China. I moved here because of my husband Rick Viescas in 2000.
Why this business? Because I like Chinese art and Chinese antiques. China has a lot of history, and ever since I was young I’ve had interest in these things. And I personally love to drink tea, so I like to introduce many fresh Chinese teas to the island.
How did you get started with this business? I had a friend across the street where I used to shop for antiques. She actually encouraged me to start a business and said I had a good eye for the right merchandise.
What sets your business apart? I have hand-picked items that aren’t derived from wholesale places like Chinatown somewhere. I go back to China every year and go to many places to find interesting products. I’m going back this month to Yunnan where many minorities live, so they have lots of handmade clothes, tablecloths and those kind of things I’ve always loved. And every spring in China they have new teas, and so if I go in the springtime I can get the freshest teas. I will stay there for one month and return the end of April. At that time, I’ll have a tea party to introduce my teas and demonstrate how to brew the different varieties in different teapots.
What motivates you to get up and go to work every day? I love the things I buy and I love to meet the different kinds of people. Many of my customers are my friends. I’m a people person and I like to talk to them. I was an accountant for many years and it wasn’t my personality, and now I’m doing something I really enjoy.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your business? The location and the economy. The location wasn’t too bad before, but the economy makes business difficult.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your business? Meeting all the people and learning things from them.
How do you measure success? I’m not really a very ambitious person who wants to do huge amounts of business. I just really wanted to enjoy the things I sell. And I’m lucky to have the chance to travel and find the treasures.
What are your plans for the future? I want to keep the business, but maybe change locations. Other options are selling my teas to the North Shore or at fairs and doing some wholesale.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Accounting. That’s the only other thing I know.
Hidden Dragon Imports 9814 Kaumuali’i Hwy., Waimea
Open 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday 338-1688