It was in the early summer, the first time we met Mini Cherry from Hong Kong in the girl’s camp event held in LaoGuanDao Camp, Miaoli. Having worked as a journalist at trend magazines for nine years in Hong Kong, her latest job was in the renowned Japanese outdoor style magazine Go Out. Before meeting her, we didn’t know that many HongKongese travel to Taiwan for camping. “We don’t have campsites that we can go to whenever we want in Hong Kong. We don’t have wide and beautiful grassland either; not to mention the camping with style that has become very trendy in Taiwan.”
After coming to Taiwan for a year, she created the independent magazine Today Ho Lucky, which launched its crowdfunding project on ZecZec last month. You can also find the magazine at Bookstore for Beginners in Taichung and the Yue Yue Bookstore in Songshan Cultural Park, Taipei. Winning the recognition from Chang Tieh-chih, a prominent political and cultural commentator from Taiwan as well as being a consultant to Yue Yue Bookstore, Cherry recalled excitedly, “I sent emails to Mr. Chang but didn’t get any reply. But I really hoped that he could take a look at my magazine, so I decided to message him on Facebook. Unexpectedly he replied very soon, and even shared the number of sales of my magazine on his Facebook.”
On the cover of Today Ho Lucky Vol.1 is written: “Life presents many choices. We don’t necessarily have to change our life, but we can make our mind feels free.” Inside the magazine, we can read Cherry’s camping journals from around Taiwan, sharing experiences such as baking coffee beans in the wild, viewing the total lunar eclipse, attending girl’s camps (female-limited, literally), etc. In her stories, the core value delivered is, “Whoever you are, whatever job you have, it is when you realize that life actually has many choices that life becomes hopeful and meaningful.”
Find her own lifestyle: Fell in love with the camping with style in Taiwan
Cherry seemed to have a very smooth career progression. Her first job was at the prominent trend magazine, MiLK, and she participated in the cover shooting of the famous singer/actor, Edison Chen, right after she was on board. Afterwards she continued to develop her career as a journalist at mainstream media such as New Monday and Go Out magazine. What triggered her to quit the job and create her own magazine?
“In our generation, no one is happy. Why? Because people don’t know that life does have choices. And I think, it’s partly the fault of the media, including myself, that we failed to deliver this message. In the Chinese cultural sphere, it seems to be a very distinguished achievement that one is able to work abroad, be a mixer and have a life, but it’s very normal in the Western world. We are just too used to staying in the comfort zone.”
She admitted that she used to enjoy staying in her comfort zone as well. The first time she visited Taiwan for camping was also for business purposes. Aiming to distribute their magazine at Eslite bookstores in Taiwan, Go Out magazine planned to include some content about Taiwan. Cherry flew to Taiwan and connected herself with the Elephant Camp, where the person in charge guided her to experience the camping with style in Taiwan. The camping experience she gained in Taiwan deeply impressed her, as they were very different from her other experiences in other places in China and Hong Kong.
“For those really scenic places in China, it’s either inaccessible, or doesn’t have a quality camping environment. As for Hong Kong, the market for camping is way too small. We don’t have legal private campsites, and the government doesn’t even issue car licenses for RVs, which make it very difficult for the camping industry to grow. So if we want to go camping in Hong Kong, there are only campsites run by the government or organizations like YMCA. They are rather old-fashioned and less exciting.”
The more experience she gained, the more she knew what she truly liked. She proposed to her boss, hoping to write more about camping in Taiwan. However, limited by the business strategy and budget concern, she did not receive many resources. She could not even bring a photographer with her. She had to rely on herself, taking photos while climbing the mountain, and learning to edit photos on her own. In the process, she gradually built up connections in Taiwan. Once she merely placed her business cared on the table of Lovely Taiwan Foundation, and afterwards she received an invitation from the PR people for the foundation, who brought her to visit Taidong tribes, Penghu and Nantou, and showed her the local sceneries she had never seen before. “I rarely say ‘No’ to people. This is how I seize opportunities.”
“An extra magazine in traditional Chinese is an extra power that preserves the culture.”
By “seeing Taiwan from the point of view of a HongKongese”, she thinks that she is able to strengthen the linkage between Taiwan and Hong Kong. Some select shops such as Final Fragments, Trail+Sport are displaying her magazine on the bookshelf in Hong Kong. “There are already too many Hong Kong magazines introducing Hong Kong by HongKongese. People in Hong Kong will find it more fresh to read how a HongKongese introduces Taiwan.”
Over the year preparing for Today Ho Lucky, she felt the friendliness and hospitality of Taiwanese people. With the cultural momentum accumulated from many years, she found that Taiwan provides many opportunities and material for good cover stories. “It is impossible for me to make an independent magazine like this in Hong Kong. The transportation fee alone would be too costly.”
Further explaining the cultural mission of creating the magazine, Cherry said, “Magazines in traditional Chinese are unique opportunities for Taiwan and Hong Kong.” Traditional Chinese is a very crucial heritage of Chinese history and culture. Overwhelmed by the trend of globalization, many languages are being replaced by others that are more widely used in the region. Now Taiwan and Hong Kong are the only two places where traditional Chinese survives. “Recently Hong Kong started planning to change the teaching materials in elementary schools into simplified Chinese. Of course I’m against it. Also, I don’t think internationalization and localization are two extremes that can’t co-exist.”
Publishing her own independent magazine is the way for her to speak for her ideal and carry out her mission. Maybe the power of a single independent magazine is limited, but if there are more people like her, the influence will be amplified. With a Cantonese accent, Cherry said confidently in Chinese, “I hope that the independent magazine I created in Taiwan can make Hong Kong feel that she is not alone. An extra magazine in traditional Chinese is an extra power that preserves the culture.”
About Mini Cherry
Mini Cherry majored Media and Culture Studies. After graduation, she spent nine years working as a journalist in trend magazines, including MiLK, New Monday, Tao, and Go OUT. She moved to Taiwan in March, 2015, and published her own independent magazine Today Ho Lucky a year later. By sharing her own experience of camping and mountain climbing in Taiwan, she aims to share the beauty of Taiwan with both Taiwanese and HongKongese——Taiwan is more than night markets and coffee shops. After becoming a freelance journalist, she also started to learn pottery-making and hand-knitting, aiming to gain other skills to make a living. She opens her own online shop, sells her goods in local marketplaces, raises money via crowdfunding, and hosts camping events in both Taiwan and Hong Kong. She hopes that what she does can inspire more people to realize that “we can choose the life we want.”