MrBead is owned by Online Oriental Ltd, which is based in Central, Hong Kong. However, although the legal entity is still in the old British Colony, orders are mailed from Norwich, in the United Kingdom - where MiMi and Nigel now live, after 25-years in the New Territories, close to Mainland China's border.
History Of MrBead
I connected online in 1998 in Hong Kong, and built my first internet shop a year later with a dial-up connection on a 10-inch laptop in a tiny Mong Kok flat. OnlineOriental.com is still trading unusual orientals. Stock was boxed on a covered outside balcony. Shortly after, I shared a 20th-floor flat above the largest bead wholesale complex in the world in Mainland China.
After 18-months we wondered if we could sell the beads below us. Knowing nothing about them, we searched AltaVista (no Google then) online and listed them on eBay. Picture is view from the balcony. It went so well, within a short time an eBay representative took me out for a meal - apparently, I was one of the largest sellers' in Hong Kong. Those days I traded as BetterBead.com, until Keith in the UK thought of ‘MrBead’ during a late night phone call 20-years ago. I registered the domain immediately. A few years later, I met MiMi at a Hong Kong beach BBQ, we married within 3-years.
Prior to 2008, I’d never seen a customer – they only existed online! Until exhibiting with a single table at my first bead fair at The Big Bead Show. Never attending a fair before, I thought it would be like jewellery shows in Hong Kong - where customers’ placed orders, rather than actually buy stock there. So I brought a big monitor and computer to market MrBead.com. To my astonishment, samples were snapped up instantly. I was also surprised to see many of the stalls selling our beads that they had brought online.
We now work from our UK home in Norwich, close to the coast and the Norfolk Broads. For downtime we take Rosey along the River Bure and Yare. Twice a year we return to the Far East for stock and to visit relatives and friends. When lockdown is over, you can see us at around 30 UK bead fairs a year, from Scotland to Cornwall, with many in London and Norwich.