S05E03: Deepa Jivan, Founder & Innovation Director, J Gordhan & Co., Hong Kong

The cheeky side of me always says, I sell stickers for a living and people just look at me. And I even had someone once say to me, oh, but you went to a very good university. And is that all you do? Sell stickers? And I turn around and say, if you think about it,
every single child, you know, has stickers 

Deepa jivan

Today’s episode is with an entrepreneur from Hong Kong, Deepa Jivan. 

Deepa is the founder & Innovation Director for J Gordhan & Co Ltd. in Hong Kong. She manages a business that brings fun into every child and adult’s life through her arts, craft and hobby products.

deepa jivan J Gordhan hong kong china
Says Deepa, “A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey,
but a woman of strength knows it is in the journey where she will become strong.” 

They design, manufacture and deliver products to their customers who are retailers around the world “whether it’s a painting, stitching or anything hobby-related.” They supply everything from stickers to paper plates, Christmas decorations to crayons, paints and more. 

Deepa is of Indian origin, born and grew up in Camden in London, UK. Her parents were Indian and teachers in Africa before moving to the UK. After graduating from the London School of Economics, she didn’t want to go into banking or consulting and at 26, chose to start her own business.

Seeing how much she enjoyed marketing, her father had encouraged her to start the business, marketing a product that was seen as waste from paper mills! It is no surprise then that she is inspired by her father. (Side note: Her parents owned a post office in the UK and slowly started a property business which is now run by her siblings.) 

So I remember saying to my family, what do I do? I’ve got one product. I’ve employed my first person, but what do I do? And my dad said to me, get on a plane and go to China. And I was like, oh my goodness, what do you mean? And that’s what I did. I got on a plane, went to China, went to the different fairs and I found some supplies of some products I thought would work well and started selling to the current customers as well as promoting my brand at the time in the UK and creating, you know, more demand. And we grew very nicely, very quickly. 

In the process, she grew her one product to 2,000 SKUs while learning about the manufacturing of products including safety compliance and quality testing in China. Later, she relocated to Hong Kong, where her business partner and husband is from.

Deepa opened up a question that she felt compelled to ask. It is a business conundrum that not many entrepreneurs are willing to admit, even to themselves. She battled with the growth question. She was quite contented with her business and didn’t want to grow bigger or handle more of everything. She sheepishly admits that she still doesn’t have a website but she probably doesn’t need one as she works directly with customers who already know her. 

Deepa and I get into this conversation in this episode. 

She also started another business with her husband and she counts herself fortunate to have the ability to invest in other businesses. 

I suffered from severe imposter syndrome. I was like, I don’t know what I’m doing. And actually, I didn’t know what I was doing. But I was ambitious. There’s this fire and I had this energy, I can stay up till four o’clock in the morning, working, lack of sleep, waking up at ridiculous hours to talk to the factories. I felt always, I’d be a really good number two, cause I’m a real good at just getting it done. But in terms of having that overall kind of vision, I was like, I think I need someone else to kind of do that. And that’s what I really struggled with. I don’t think I had enough faith in myself.

Says Deepa, “A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey, but a woman of strength knows it is in the journey where she will become strong.” 

She is most proud that she had the courage to start again when disruptions happened in her life. 

Her favourite book is Breath by James Nestor and her favourite song is Nelly Furtado’s Powerless.

Connect with her:


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