|Lê Thanh Ái Nhi, 32, makes a wool product at her shop in Thới Bình Ward in the Mekong Delta City of Cần Thơ’s Ninh Kiều District. — VNA/VNS Photo
CẦN THƠ — Running a small business during the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge for many but has provided a stable income for two women in the Mekong Delta city of Cần Thơ’s Ninh Kiều District.
Lê Thanh Ái Nhi, 32, owner of a handmade wool shop named “Len Thỏ” in Thới Bình Ward, has focused on selling her products via e-commerce channels instead of at her shop to adapt to the pandemic.
Nhi says wool products do not get damaged when they are shipped, so it is very convenient for online ordering and delivery.
Nhi and her husband, who supports her to create wool products, constantly improve their skills to create unique items such as bags, thermos carriers, dolls, ao dai and shoes.
Among them, Nhi’s thermal wool bag has become one of the most popular products among domestic and foreign customers, she said.
Many people have also ordered wool dolls of Vietnamese police officers and Cairojess’ characters, especially as a wedding gift, she said.
Thanks to the popularity of the products, the revenue of the shop has not been significantly affected by the pandemic, Nhi says.
She has a stable income and created jobs for five local women with an income of VNĐ5-8 million ($219-351) per month each, Nhi says.
|Phạm Thùy Thanh Thảo, 28, makes mini clay food at home in the Mekong Delta city of Cần Thơ’s Ninh Kiều District. —VNA/VNS Photo
Phạm Thùy Thanh Thảo, 28, owner of a handmade mini clay food shop named “Minitoy”, received many orders from all over the country amid the pandemic.
Thảo has also promoted the use of e-commerce channels and a Facebook fan page to sell her products during the pandemic, she said.
Thảo says although sometimes delivery has been affected due to the pandemic, her customers are happy to wait to get the clay toys.
At first, her customers were elderly people with disposable income and a passion for collecting miniatures.
Now, she also targets a group of young customers, who can buy products for a few thousand or tens of thousands of đồng.
The flexibility in business has helped her products reach more people, providing a stable source of income.
Thảo says she earns dozens of millions of đồng each month.
When Cần Thơ City implemented social distancing and she had to stay at home to prevent the spread of the pandemic, she spent more time thinking of new products made of clay to bring her customers more unique and creative products, she said.
|Handmade wool products of Nhi.— VNA/VNS Photo
Tough start, relentless creativity
Nhi says in the early days of starting a business in 2015, difficulties piled up.
On the one hand, she only knew how to make simple products, mainly children's clothes, hats and shoes; on the other hand, no one knew Nhi in the handmade-product world.
Nhi also faced a lack of capital to run her business. Thus, in 2018, she joined the "Women start a business" Club of the Women's Union of the ward.
She borrowed VNĐ20 million ($876) from the Bank for Social Policies through the introduction of the club to invest more in her business.
Additionally, Nhi improves her skills every day to create unique products and always puts the quality of the product first, she says.
Nguyễn Hoài Hương, Vice President of the union, says that in addition to helping Nhi borrow capital from the bank to develop her products, the union also brought Nhi’s products to fairs of high-quality Vietnamese goods and handicraft exhibitions across the country.
After the introduction at the fairs and exhibitions, the union saw the love of the customers for the handicraft items produced by Nhi’s shop, contributing to Nhi's success, she says.
“Nhi is believed to be one of the examples of women starting up a successful business,” she says.
|A handmade mini clay set of food made by Thảo. —VNA/VNS Photo
Thảo started her business in 2017. Like many people, at first, she failed repeatedly, the products she made were not as she expected.
Although she was a bit confused at that time, she still encouraged herself that success didn't come easily.
“Moreover, if you love something, you must pursue it to the end,” she says.
Thảo says that to make a miniature product with the size of one-twelfth of the real thing, she had to go through many complicated stages such as kneading the soil, mixing colours, creating detailed shapes and painting.
The most difficult stage is to colour the product so that it resembles the real version, she says.
Moreover, all actions must be fast and accurate before the clay dries, she says.
Depending on the difficulty of the product, the finishing time could be from one to several days, sometimes even some weeks, she says.
"My path to success is not only perseverance with hundreds of products to be discarded and many sleepless nights but also relentless creativity, not allowing myself to repeat others and repeat myself," she says. — VNS