Chinese international students helping small businesses
QING Dong has been in Australia for less than two years, but he’s already designing a successful future for himself and other students like him. Cassie Shi has the story.
A man stands up the front talking about Warriors Footwear, a historically well-known Chinese shoe brand.
A picture of Orlando Bloom causes everyone to burst out laughing. The shoes on his feet are out of style. No one in China would wear them, but they’ve become an international bestseller after someone bought a pair for $3 and wore them in France.
“I can’t believe how easily a shoe that people barely care about in China achieved such huge popularity overseas,” the man says.
The man’s name is Qing Dong. He’s a first-year advertising student and the director of Mayfly Studio. Qing started Mayfly in July 2012. The studio is a brand design and consultation company that helps small businesses break into the Melbourne market.
Like most international students, Qing came to Australia to explore his passion for art and design.
“I wanted to do something, but it’s hard to find like-minded people to work with,” Qing says.
So rather than sit around and wait for someone to find him, Qing applied to another student venture, Melbourne Pioneer.
Melbourne Pioneer is a student-run organisation that supports Chinese students in Australia through mentorships, business counseling and, at times, funding.
Formal international student Yijia Li founded Melbourne Pioneer a couple of years back and says it serves as a platform where students can help each other and grow together.
“It’s a bit like a playground for ideas,” he says. “We set up the stage, you come and have fun.”
Since it was founded, Melbourne Pioneer has gone from having only four members to having 178. It’s also gained sponsors both here and back in China, and has helped a bunch of small projects grow into fledgling independent companies. Mayfly Studio is one of them.
Melbourne Pioneer also recently launched the very first Chinese student-run foundation in Victoria- the MP Growth Foundation.
The director of the foundation, Fan Yang, describes the project as “a completely innovative group”.
It fills a niche among Chinese international students. No one else is doing this,” Fan says.
“We’re not following a traditional mode, but put a lot of thought into the way we helped our members.”
Though they have less experience and limited staff, Mayfly has already made a splash in the design world – designing the cover and logo for a brand new toy company.
“I’m glad to have found a place to do what I love and have equally-as-passionate people around me to learn from,” Qing says.
“Life is too short to live in someone else’s shadow. You have to live your way.”