An artist once described Taipei as “a city of temporality”, reflecting the importance of mobility and portability in its citizens’ everyday life. Street vendors and scooters are a common sight in this city, and what matters for most would be getting things done the easiest and quickest way.
Fred Tsai and Jo Liu are the co-owners of Good Thing Creation, a brand that prints vanishing, old-time Taiwanese landscapes on t-shirts. Every night they come to the mini night market in front of a 24-hour bookstore located in Taipei’s hippest “East Side” area, with a suitcase geared with LED lighting to illuminate its own story.
They are both 26 years old, having graduated from a university masters program in industrial design. They decided to start their own brand a year ago after retreating from the army, because having an independent brand for them means self-assertion and autonomy as designers. They traveled around the island to take photos of vintage architecture and historical sites, and then printed them on clothes. Their works illustrate fancy for the old world, freezing the beauty of time and preserving cultural identity in an age of globalization.
They see the street market as a perfect place to start a business—no rent, no utilities, just a suitcase or a rag and you’re ready to go. Vendors build tight friendships with each other as well. When the patrolling cops come around, one vendor would make a sound and everyone else pack up their wares and retreat. Street vending allows one to build immediate relationships with customers– once your name card is distributed, people can find you on Facebook.
Funds for the business come from salaries earned from their daytime jobs. Fred works as a graphic designer at one of Taiwan’s biggest newspapers, while Jo is a full time staff at the 24-hour Eslite Bookstore. For them, working in corporate companies is just a stepping stone to help them gain more experience and network with people. Eventually they would like to focus on the brand when it is more mature and ready to expand.
Their partnership is vital to the business. They are more motivated working together, and more people means more perspectives for the business. Their families and friends support their ideas as well. In the future they would like to develop more products, have their own shop, and recruit more people, because at the end of the day, accounting really isn’t the strongest suit of these two young designers.
Photos by Ivy Hsu