Alexis Holm is designer and founder of Squarestreet, the little store in – you guessed it – Square Street, that sells all things cool and Scandinavian, from watches and leather goods.
Originally from Stockholm in Sweden, Alexis came to Hong Kong and opened up 15 Squarestreet with his good friend and fellow designer, David Ericsson of VOID Watches. A self-taught designer, entrepreneur, graphic designer and photographer, he started a footwear brand called Gram Shoes in 2005 – a label he still designs for.
Under the Squarestreet brand, Holm designs exclusive products and brings in brands that are aligned with the brand’s design aesthetic – think labels such as All Tomorrow’s Parties, Cornelia Webb, Aark Collective, From Tiny Islands and VOID watches – and takes care of the local retail and international distribution of his products. We chat to Holm about life running a business, future plans for Squarestreet – and, of course, his wardrobe essentials.
How long have you lived in Hong Kong? Why did you pick Hong Kong to start your new venture after gram?
Hong Kong represented the antithesis of Sweden. Anything you can think of to compare is most likely the complete opposite. Culture, taxes, weather, you name it. I guess I needed that contrast. But now that I’m in my seventh year, Hong Kong’s silver lining is slowly oxidising.
What’s the mission of Squarestreet?
To bring Swedish design, style and sensibility closer to Hong Kong.
What is the selection criteria for the products you stock at Squarestreet?
Good design, honest craftsmanship and a certain uniqueness. A lot of what we sell at Squarestreet is not available anywhere else in Hong Kong. Being Swedish is a plus, but I wouldn’t let that stand in the way of a great brand.
Where are the accessories you design made?
We design everything in our Hong Kong office, buy parts and materials from Europe, then assemble our products in China.
What is a typical working day like for you?
Since I handle all the creative parts of the business and also act as the spokesperson, my day can be pretty much anything from an interview, to material sourcing in Sham Shui Po and an all-day photoshoot for a new watch model. I’m basically a one-man army when it comes to design, development, graphics and photography.
Most important tip for running your own business?
Be organised. Be focused. Be brave. Oh, and design really nice products, of course.
What are the key ingredients to the success of Squarestreet?
I think integrity, our Swedish heritage and the fact that we love what we do have all helped Squarestreet become one of Hong Kong’s most revered fashion accessories shops.
Your summer wardrobe essentials?
Versatile shorts and cool knit tees. Check out www.outlier.cc for the best of everything.
What’s a mantra that you live by?
Life is a learning experience and failure an excellent teacher.
How do you advise new promising designers who are struggling to make the 1000 piece minimum order required by factories?
The minimum order quantity is never the hard part for any new designer or brand, they just like talking about it to mask the fact that selling those 1000 pieces is the real nightmare.
What are you reading now?
I seem to be into scary food documentaries, so my dietary choices are shrinking by the day. As for reading material, no deep thoughts or existential angst for me. Clive Cussler is about the only author I read nowadays, which means fast-paced action, fantastical plots and plenty of heroics.
What are you listening to?
I wish I had more new music on my playlist. Dralms with his newish album Shook is good. Listen to “Gang of Pricks” first, even though you’ll end up liking the other tracks more later.
What are the new initiatives at Squarestreet?
We’ve recently expanded actually – a stone’s throw from our main shop on Square Street lies our newly opened Archive outlet store. It’s always 50 – 70 percent off either past seasons or sample sales – great place to visit any day of the week.
What three words describe you?
Creative, empathetic and stubborn.
What do you eat for breakfast?
Something gluten-free and high in protein, preferably with cut up strawberries or cherries on top. And at least two iced black coffees.
Find Squarestreet at:
Squarestreet, G/F, 15 Square Street, Sheung Wan.
Squarestreet Archive- G/F, 41 Circular Pathway, Sheung Wan.