Li Jiaqi does coffee? Top livestreamer opens first offline (coffee) shop

There’s a new kid on the block in China’s coffee sector despite fierce competition. Only it’s not really new, or a kid, it’s the Once and (maybe) Future King of Lipstick: Li Jiaqi. Through his affiliated company MeiOne, Li launched a coffee shop in Shanghai under the banner of his own Never’s Family IP on 18 April. The name of the new shop is called Never Mind Cafe.

Never’s Family is an original pet IP incubated by MeiOne, based on a Bichon Frisé dog called Never that Li has kept as a pet for 9 years, joined by five fellow canines the fictional version. Since its launch in 2020, the IP has been growing as a pet-centric variety show featuring Li and Never. For the Never Mind Café, the five puppies show up in their cartoon avatar on the decoration, paper cups, sleeves and bags, as well as merch such as coasters and stickers. Currently, there are only coffee and pastries available at the location.

But what sets the cafe apart from its competition is that it is also a “silent cafe” where many employees are hearing or speech-impaired, as well as paying special attention to enable disabled customers. The inspiration comes from a “Never Mind Cafe” segment of Never’s Family variety show, where each customer can feel the therapeutic love and companionship provided by the canine family. Li’s first brick-and-mortar endeavour is in this sense, a realisation of his online visions.

Since the beginning of 2024, top livestreamers have gone quiet to various degrees especially Li Jiaqi, who once reigned number 1 in beauty or on Taobao in general. Although the coffee sector is considered saturated with 20 chains opening 592 branches just this March alone, reaching 41,273 in total, coffee shop openings have been slowing since December 2023.

Li joining the fray at this point, in his own words is for fans of Never, who accompanied him since his first livestream and would greet the audience whenever on screen. With the star power of Never (and its owner) and the ESG aspect, Never Mind Cafe does not compete on the same plane with other coffee chains, which is perhaps why Li hopes to open 100 stores all over China. But it’s still too early to say whether Li’s controversies and low profile since last year would affect the popularity of the cafe.


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