Exclusive Interview With Brand: A New Leaf

An exclusive interview with the founder of A New Leaf Jewellery, a plant-based jewellery brand based in Hong Kong.


1. Would you share a bit about yourself and where you’re from?

My name is Shirley, I am originally from Hong Kong but have been living in Thailand since more than a year ago. I came from a Luxury brand background but since I have become a mother, I have trained to become a wellness specialist as well as a sustainable accessory designer.

2. How did it all start?

With A New Leaf, I first started the brand Lantau Ren since I loved the beautiful Lantau Island in Hong Kong after my daughter was born. We lived by the beach and were surrounded by nature. I was so inspired by our habitat that I started to have ideas come to me.

I designed and developed a number of products that were very popular. However, with baby No. 2 came along, I downsized to focus on small fashion accessories.

One of the focuses was A New Leaf, in which I was very fortunate, through the connection of our family friend (who’s the founder of high-end Japan Tour ‘Maction Planet”) I started to work with a family jewel-making business based in Chiangmai. They turned designs into realities by using plants.

The majority of my designs were made out of leaves sourced from natural places like jungle, or buy off from flower vendors’ leftovers. Then coated with 24K gold. It was a very skill and labour-intensive processes.

3. Was it always the intention to become a sustainable and ethical designer?

It was totally by accident and also due to the principle of “not settling for second best”. I had a design of a pair of earrings that was inspired by a Chinese fan.

I could not get any jewel maker to produce it through the generic jewel-making process. They came back with many counterproposals that were basically moving farther and farther away from my design.

I was not happy with that so decided to put the design aside. One day, my daughter’s godfather visited Tokyo and I shared with him my frustration. He connected me with his long-time friend who’s become a plant-based jewel maker. This atelier got my design right away. Then the rest became history. They made A New Leaf all-time best-seller Chinese Fan Earrings, in different colours. And I went to them for all my designs ever since.

4. What was it that first raised your awareness of the issue of fast fashion?

My work experience in the fashion houses. I witnessed first hand so many perfectly fine products were destroyed. Hence I always focus on small production and using sustainable materials.


1. What have been some of the biggest challenges for you on this journey?

Small brands mean we do not have an extra budget to spend or waste on marketing. Hence we really appreciate a platform like Smthgood to gather us together and help us shine.

2. What do you want to achieve personally with your brand?

Every design in A New Leaf Collection has been carefully thought through. Especially on how versatile it could be with any outfit, or occasion, also to enhance confidence and outlook. The designs are always delightful, classic, timeless, and versatile for various occasions.


1. How would you explain the importance of brands like yours making steps to become more ethical and sustainable to someone who isn’t well-versed in what that means?

Most people think sustainable fashion means dull colours, rags, or overpriced.
If we look closer, we can find these days sustainable brands make beautiful products, that are of top-notch quality with fine materials.

2. For the consumers, what are the easiest ways that we can all be more sustainable in our approach to fashion?

Buy something that you can think of more than 3 occasions to use. You can use it multiple times for years to come. You can tell a story about the product. It makes you feel good by wearing it. Not because you want to show off with it. That would only fuel your insecurity further.

3. In your own eyes, how has becoming a sustainable designer changed your life?

I focus more on what I am creating, whether it’s making a difference, or just adding another piece of junk onto the planet. I do not produce collections around the clock like most big brands do. I only create when inspiration comes.

4. People say that sustainable fashion is too expensive or too difficult to do. How do you usually respond to that?

Many of the costs are actually going to expensive retail real estate and marketing. Hence by supporting small brands, you are paying mostly for the actual products.

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