From the 19th century onwards, “trailing spouses” have made their own way in Hong Kong, opening businesses and forging existences quite separate from their husband’s work role.
Among Hong Kong’s earliest such enterprises was a millinery and haberdashery shop set up on Queen’s Road Central in the early 1850s by Harriet Duddell, in premises let to her by her husband, Frederick, who, with his brother George, was in business in Hong Kong. Harriet never left the China coast; she died in 1857, and was buried in the Old Protestant Cemetery, in Macau. Duddell Street, in Central, is named after the family.
Not all “hobby” businesses are intended to turn a profit – or are operated by trailing spouses. Have you ever wondered just how – in times of catastrophically spiralling rents – various small “businesses” found across Hong Kong can possibly make any money? From Kennedy Town to Tai Hang, examples abound of chic patisseries selling “artisanal” this or “hand-made” that, or tiny boutiques lightly stocked with virtually one-of-a-kind homewares or garments.