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Born and raised in Europe but Liisi has a special passion for Vietnamese Ao Dai (traditional gown) and Vietnamese silk products.
Liisi next to silk garments from her own brand.
Business started from the love for Ao Dai
Liisi Mari (born 1990) was born and raised in Estonia. Liisi’s family had been painters for three generations, so she inherited some of that talent.
Living in the cradle of art, since childhood Liisi has always been immersed in paintbrushes and canvases. Her favorite technique is drawing on silk.
Later, Liisi graduated from the University of Arts in Estonia and went to Hong Kong (China) to study. Here, she met the man of her dreams and got married to a Vietnamese.
“When we first met, I often shared with my husband Ngoc my hobbies. He said Vietnam is a famous country for its silk. We talked about a lot of things but I was really fascinated when he had the same aspirations,” Liisi said.
When she was introduced to Ngoc’s family, his mother brought her to a tailor to make an Ao Dai as a gift.
The first time she held the Ao Dai in her hands, Liisi felt a strange sensation. In Liisi’s head, the image of paint brushes dancing on her shirt appeared. Just like that, she was infatuated with Ao Dai in all its magnificence.
Since then, Liisi has spent most of her time studying silk and Ao Dai.
The young Estonian woman decided to choose silk to start a business thanks to her love of the Vietnamese Ao Dai.
In 2018, she got married and moved to Vietnam to live with her husband. In addition to painting, Liisi occasionally does modeling work.
Liisi is so “addicted” to Ao Dai that she wears them whenever a special occasion comes up, whether it is Tet or a wedding or party.
“Ao Dai contains the essence of national identity. I feel confident wearing them,” Liisi said.
Liisi saw that Vietnamese silk had a lot of potential so she started a business in her husband’s hometown with her own silk brand.
Liisi’s husband was then working for a company with a monthly salary of thousands of dollars, but decided to quit his job to cooperate with his wife on the business.
“My husband studied business administration, but I was inclined to art. We have different personalities but have the same orientation and support each other in our work,” said Liisi.
According to Liisi, silk is a great material for painting. The natural softness of the silk fibers helps the colors to spread and blend together into attractive new colors.
“My products contain my love and passion for silk. The motifs on the Ao Dai are all hand drawn by me so each set is unique, nothing is mass produced,” Liisi said.
|In the contest “Charming Ao Dai 2019”, Liisi won 4th place with the Ao Dai she designed.|
In addition to the Ao Dai, Liisi also developed a hand-painted silk scarf and silk pillows. Just like the Ao Dai, there is only one version for each piece.
In addition to the products drawn by Liisi, the couple also organizes sessions for customers who want to hand-draw the motifs of their scarf or Ao Dai at the sewing factory.
“Painting on silk is an artistic activity that helps people find relaxation, tranquility, stress relief as well as training persistence and creativity,” Liisi said.
Bringing Vietnamese silk to the world
|Drawing on canvas class for children.|
The Estonian woman added that, although the business is stable, the couple’s silk brand has not officially had a store, but only accepts orders via online form.
In order for customers to choose easily, couple are using a smart fashion app with a “Try-on” feature – allowing buyers to try on clothes and accessories on models virtually.
After being welcomed by the Vietnamese market, the couple brought “made in Vietnam” products to other countries. However, the distribution stops at retail activities.
According to Liisi, customers in Finland, Estonia, Germany, the US, and China find Vietnamese silk products through the couple’s sales page.
|A phoenix silk scarf hand drawn by Liisi.|
Mr. Tran Ngoc, Liisi’s husband, said that in 2020, the couple intends to export through a large distribution channel, but due to the epidemic, it has been postponed. Currently, this plan has just been restarted. He will focus on exporting to Estonia and Germany.
“Because of limited capital and the lack of conditions to invest in large factories, my wife and I have developed the model of linking, sewing scarves and silk robes with traditional craft villages.
For standard product line, we order outsourcing. High-end line, exclusive design, we bring them to a small self-production workshop. However, the source of silk fabric must always ensure the standards of Vietnam. Because the foreign market is quite careful,” Mr. Ngoc said.
|Liisi inside the canvas studio.|
Mr. Ngoc shared that the couple started a business entirely with their own capital and did not seek funds from others.
The brand name this may not be widely developed but the production is there. The quantity of goods is not high but he believes this is a sustainable way to go.
At the beginning, Ngoc and his wife also faced many difficulties in finding markets and approaching customers.
With business knowledge and brand development acquired for many years, Ngoc and his wife promote themselves through social networks. At the same time, the couple brings their products to travel fairs, world consumer fairs, and art shows.
“Silk is woven from insect silk. From this material, we can create many different fabrics, shiny like satin, rough like linen and burlap, hard like organza … “, the owner added.
|Liisi and her husband introduce the silk brand to the world to promote Vietnamese culture.|
People often consider silk as a glossy fabric, loose and not for the young, but this material can be used for all ages, different in color and design.
Liisi said the developing the silk brand is not simply a business. The main purpose is to promote Vietnamese traditional culture, and elevate products to art.
“My husband and I are determined to move around and live in both countries – Vietnam and Estonia. So, everyone has the opportunity to be close to their family. In the future, I plan to open a representative office in Estonia. My mother also likes Vietnamese silk products,” said Liisi.
The Minister made the affirmation during separate receptions held on March 3 in Hanoi for Lee Kang-woo, general director of Lotte Properties Thu Thiem in Vietnam, and Horst Geicke, chairman and CEO of Ho Tram Sanctuary Company.
During the reception held for Lee Kang-woo, Minister Dung congratulated the Korean Government on its recent success in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and on producing COVID-19 vaccines, materials, and goods. In addition, there was plenty of praise for the RoK’s support in helping the nation combat the pandemic.
Mutual co-operation has continued to enjoy steady growth across multiple fields in recent times, Minister Dung said, adding that the Vietnamese Government greatly appreciates the RoK’s efforts to maintain its position as the largest foreign investor in the country. At present, the nation is still striving to meet the dual goals of combating the COVID-19 pandemic and boosting socio-economic development.
Expressing great appreciation for Lotte Group’s successful investment in the country over recent years, Minister Dung affirmed that the Vietnamese Government is ready to offer support and provide the best possible conditions for both domestic and foreign investors. Indeed, this includes Korean investors such as Lotte Group who are looking to either expand their operations or make a presence in Vietnam.
Upon describing the Lotte Thu Thiem project as an important highlight for Ho Chi Minh City, the Vietnamese Government official expressed hope that Kang-woo would help to speed up construction progress to ensure that products are on the market immediately after the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control.
As part of the occasion, Kang-woo also sent a letter of thanks from the CEO of Lotte Group to Prime Minister Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Minister Dung.
Furthermore, Kang-woo praised Vietnamese pandemic containment efforts, while stating that the RoK is also carrying out the task of fighting the pandemic and ensuring socio-economic development moving forward. Indeed, firms from the RoK, including Lotte Group, will continue to pay attention to investment in the Vietnamese market, he added.
During the meeting held with Geicke, Minister Dung emphasized that the Government remains ready to support the company’s plans to expand investment and business activities locally, believing that Geicke will help to develop the Ho Tram project into a famous tourist and resort destination.
Sharing the difficulties facing the company due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister Dung stated that amid the global pandemic, tourism represents one of the most affected industries, therefore it needs to time to recover.
In response, Geicke told his host that despite suffering difficulties in terms of project implementation, the company has been striving to devise a plan to upgrade cuisine areas, villas, and hotels at Ho Tram resort. This will allow tourism products and services to be available immediately once the pandemic is fully contained globally.
Minister Dung said that the country has established a working group to promote foreign investment co-operation led by Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh. This will allow companies and investors with specific recommendations regarding policies on investment attraction to directly contact the Government Office and the working group in order report to the PM and the Government.
Malaysia recorded a total of 15.85 billion USD worth of FDI in 2020, equivalent to only 39.1 percent of the figure in 2019.
Statistics from MIDA showed that China , Singapore, and the Netherlands were the top three FDI sources for Malaysia, accounting for more than 50 percent of the total approved FDI for the year.
Among the major economic sectors, the manufacturing sector led in attracting FDI investments, recording 13.97 billion USD.
Injecting 4.3 billion USD into Malaysia’s manufacturing, China remained as the top investor in the sector, and became the largest source of foreign investments in the field for five consecutive years./.
The Hanoitimes – Investments in forex trading platforms, seen as illegal, would not be protected by law, said a senior official of the central bank.
Credit institutions with permission from the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) are the only ones allowed to provide foreign exchange (FX) trading and derivatives services on the domestic and international markets.
|Vice Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam Dao Minh Tu at the press briefing. Photo: Nhat Bac.|
I nvestors should be cautious in participating in illegal forex trading platforms, said SBV’s Vice Governor Dao Minh Tu at a monthly government’s press briefing on December 2, referring to the case of growing numbers of such platforms are calling for investment with promises of soaring profit.
“So far, local authorities have not issued licence for any forex trading floor. Therefore, all transactions on these floors are illegal,” stressed Mr. Tu.
“Individuals investing in these platforms, seen as violating laws, would not be protected by law,” he noted.
Mr. Tu said during the Covid-19 crisis, legal businesses anywhere around the world could hardly guarantee profit of up to a couple of dozen percent, let alone promises for profit of hundreds of percent per year, which is a sign of fraud.
Vice Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai noted forex trading platforms in Vietnam are form of illegal multi-level marketing activities that pose high risks in terms of assets losses for investors.
“Those participating in these activities could be subject to a penalty of up to VND5 billion (US$217,500) or five-year jail term,” Mr. Hai stressed.
Some investors admitted greedy is a major reason for them to participate in forex trading activities. However, they argued a lack of legal framework regulating such activities has directly led to a growing number of such platforms operating publicly and attracting ill-informed investors.
The Hanoitimes – The Vietnamese government creates favorable conditions for foreign investors to expand investment here.
Lotte Properties Thu Thiem’s leadership is committed to building the Thu Thiem Eco Smart City project into a prominent landmark of Ho Chi Minh City and Asia, Lee Kang Woo, General Manager of Lotte Properties Thu Thiem, told Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung at a meeting on March 3 in Hanoi.
|Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung (R) and Lee Kang Woo, General Manager of Lotte Properties Thu Thiem (L). Photo: VGP|
Speaking at the meeting, Dung said he hoped Lotte Properties Thu Thiem, owned by South Korea’s Lotte Group, would speed up the construction progress of the project, so that it will be put into operation after the Covid-19 pandemic is rolled back.
In July 2017, four Lotte members and Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee signed a contract the construction of Eco-smart City with the initial investment capital of US$884.4 million, after seven years of proposals. However, the project was halted temporarily after the Thu Thiem scandal over irregularities in granting land to investors.
Earlier, the Government agreed with the proposal of the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City and the Government Inspectorate that the investor is allowed to continue implementing the project.
Minister Dung suggested the South Korean investor needs to cooperate closely with the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City to complete relevant procedures and implement the project on schedule.
The Vietnamese Minister emphasized that the cooperation between South Korea and Vietnam is thriving in many spheres. The Vietnamese government highly appreciates the fact that South Korea has been Vietnam’s largest foreign investor for many years.
On the same day, Minister Dung also hosted Horst Geicke, Chairman and General Director of Sanctuary Ho Tram. At the meeting, Dung stressed that the Government of Vietnam always supports and creates favorable conditions for domestic and foreign investors, including those of Sanctuary Ho Tram project in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, to expand investment and business activities in Vietnam.