Vending Machine are usually synonymous with four finger KitKats and watered down hot drinks. For anyone rushing off to a date and lacking a few added extras, this Hong Kong Cosmetic Vending Machine is here for you.
‘There are so many times when I have been caught on the hop without some of my favourite beauty essentials, particularly when travelling late in the evening when shops are shut, and have been desperate for a couple of core items. This machine could put an end to all that stress and worry and ensure that you can always look your best, wherever you are.’
Location of Two Girls Vending Machines in Hong Kong
Windsor House: G/F, Windsor House. 311 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay
Silvercord: 3/F Silvercord. 30 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
The ONE: L2 The ONE. 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
History of Two Girls
Probably no other Hong Kong brand could evoke fond memory as Two Girls for grandmas in the city.
By the end of 19th century, Hong Kong was already an international entrepot trading most of China’s cosmetics imports. But the foreign cosmetics were so expensive then that only the expatriates and a handful of affluent families could afford them. Seeing an opportunity in the mass market, a young entrepreneur named Fung Fook Tien launched Two Girls through his company Kwong Sang Hong (KSH) in 1898.
There were different stories on how the Two Girls brand came into being. According to one version, Fung saw two beautiful women in street and found the inspiration. Another version said, an angel appeared in his dream and told him two girls would bring him fortune.
The prediction came true. Women loved Two Girls: the prices were 10 times lower than the imported cosmetics but the quality was comparable.
“Mr Fung aimed for the highest standard. All materials were imported from Britain and France,” explained Sue Chan, assistant Sales and Marketing manager of KSH.
Two Girls cosmetics were so popular that the products were often sold out in one day. In 1912, Two Girls already had 20 outlets in China and three in Southeast Asia.
The stunning success of Two Girls tempted many into the cosmetics business. There were also cases of counterfeits and deliberate imitations. Two Girls had to go to court to resolve the dispute. “Two Girls is a forerunner in Hong Kong’s intellectual property rights protection history,” said Chan.
In feudal society, women were not allowed to go out and suitable models were impossible to find. The “women” featured on the early Two Girls labels or advertisements were actually men disguised in women. The practice didn’t end until the 1920s.
Real women or not, Two Girls had been the ideal for elegant beauty in old Hong Kong. Posters and calendars of Two Girls were such a popular household decoration that they left an indelible mark on the city’s collective memory. Today, old Two Girls advertisements are staple of historical exhibitions and the inspiration for many artists.
Two Girls may be steeped in historic charm, but the innovation and constant improvement makes the brand a classic. “Combining traditions and breakthroughs, growing and transforming together with Hong Kong… This is what makes Two Girls a cultural icon of Hong Kong,” Chan said.
Even the brand image, the very core of Two Girls’ nostalgic appeal, has been changing with time. The cheongsam worn by the Two Girls has gradually morphed from the solid-colored, traditional style to the bright-colored, body-hugging design. A sense of fashion is subtly instilled: fur coats in the winter, for instance.
Truly innovative are KSH’s forays into alternative distribution channel. Aside from ready adoption of e-commerce, KSH is the first in Hong Kong to sell beauty products via vending machine. Also, it has partnered with tour agencies to supply Two Girls travel kits.