Business Business

12/03/2021 - 10:11

Turning Lepironia into a green fashion product

Suong Lan told that the more she learned, the more she was infatuated with this fragile but vigorous grass. In the low-lying fields, when the rice was transplanted, but could not survive, the Lepironia rose proudly.

With a passion, Ho Suong Lan has created handicrafts from Pho Trach Lepironia (the village located in Phong Binh commune, Phong Dien district, Thua Thien Hue province). Marie's brand has become a friendly fashion item following customers to many regions and countries. 

Suong Lan and Lepironia having been dyed

New color, new vitality

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the tourism industry to be frozen. Sending off the last visitors in March 2020, Ms. Ho Suong Lan, Director of Phong Lan Viet Company Limited, decided to look for a new career to overcome the company's situation after more than 10 years doing business in the “smokeless” industry.

In her free time, she goes to Pho Trach village (Phong Binh commune, Phong Dien distric) for a picnic, watching artisans weaving and making products from Lepironia. Unlike the Lepironia in the Mekong Delta region, this type of grass in Pho Trach is small and soft but supple.  

Suong Lan said that the more she learned, the more she was infatuated with this fragile but vigorous grass. In the low-lying fields, when the rice was transplanted, but could not survive, the Lepironia rose proudly.

Each product is cherished and made meticulously to every small detail

The rustic and delicate products from the Lepironia make her not want to leave. “I am happy and touched by the people's feelings about their job, about the desire to save and preserve cultural products - the unique feature of Pho Trach village. However, the potential has not been fully exploited, the market is still limited, and the production scale has a lot of limitations,” expressed Suong Lan.

Having talents of doing business enabled Lan see the development opportunities of these handicraft and handmade products from the Lepironia and determine to find a new direction, bringing the Lepironia "fly high, fly far away".

Lan told that when she "showed off" two bags of Lepironia on her personal Facebook, many of herfriends expressed their interest by commenting "Wow! There are such cute products but why no one sells them"; then "the idea of ​​connecting, commercializing, "turning" raw products into high-end fashion was formed".

"It turned out that handicrafts are very popular with consumers. It's just that we haven't reached its potential yet, there’s a lack of the difference and an undervalued pricing to its true worth. So, we have to find the way to stimulate customers to use, in return, contribute to maintaining the development of this product line,” stated Lan.

She went back and forth like a shuttle between Hue and Pho Trach village, met "partners", exchanged ideas, meticulously selected material and designed samples with a team. Lan also looked for dozens of samples of linen, Zeng, brocade, etc., to mix and find ways to dye colors manually for the grass. Strangely, the Lepironia looked like a new vitality with many familiar and strange colors: orchid, cobalt blue, orange earth, Hue purple.

Delicate products from the Lepironia

Being dexterous with products knitting from Lepironia, Ms. Nguyen Thi Lien, a Pho Trach villager,now a main worker cooperating with Lan, happily shared: “It's also a bag, a hat but now, we make products with a beautiful and more sophisticated design. Thanks to that, the workers can have a pretty good income. And orders are also continuously placed”.

As Ms. Lien said, Lepironia is no longer a rustic country product but becomes a unique and fashionable handmade item. And Thuy Vy - the artist who is drawing and patterning for the brand Marie's shared: “To be honest, I have never painted on materials like this. Like Lan, the more I workon it, the more I love the Lepironia. It's new, strange and brings a very interesting and cool experience ”!

Once seeing this product, one would be very surprised and amazed. CEO Phong Lan Viet also brings paintings with hand-drawn decorative motifs that are delicate and vivid, creating a perfect combination between fashion and art.

Each gift is made up from a mind and a heart

Now, handmade handbags, purses, hats from Marie's brand are on the market and well-received by customers. With its fashion and high application characteristics, Marie's has received many orders from domestic and international customers.

To the people of Pho Trach village

 “The sophistication is shown in every detail. Each handcrafted product from the Lepironia is a very valuable and artistic craft. Thank you,  Marie's,” Ms. Nguyen Kieu Linh, a customer from Hanoi, gavefeedback on the Marie's - Co Bang of Hue page. 

Lan stated that patterns and textures are the artist's creativity and improvisation, so each product is unique. Therefore, even though the price is not cheap (from 200 to 600 thousand VND per item), customers are still very happy to own this product. "Each gift is made up from the mind, heart and love of those who are attached to the Lepironia, so the product is valuable thanks to that," she said.

The positive market feedback created more motivation for Lan and her colleagues to constantly innovate. In addition to the samples ordered by customers, hundreds of other designs are sketched by Lan and her team according to traditional and modern trends, from patterns, bag forms, bag designs,… all are in line with fashion trends.

After only a short time, the revenue has increased nearly 3 times compared with the modest sales in the first months. This also shows that customers love and value natural products. Handicraft products from Lepironia follow its owners to many different lands and countries.

In January 2021, Suong Lan opened a store on pedestrian street and planned to open a chain of stores in big cities and provinces. At the same time, she plans to reach the international level, where many customers love handicraft products following the green fashion trend, by promoting online marketing and sales.

“Although there are many hardships, but I believe that when love blends with hands and mind in each product, it can vibrate hearts. Because with her "loving Hue in your way", she will endeavor to take "The quintessence of Hue" a leap further ", Lan smiled happily.

According to the elders in the village, Pho Trach's making Lepironia cushion profession appeared 500-600 years ago - from the establishment of the village, which means around the middle of the 15th century. Nearly 6 centuries have passed, the profession remains the same: planting (in the old days, Lepironia is exploited in the wild) - reaping - drying - beating - knitting.

Story and photos: Lien Minh