Bamboo brilliance: Young entrepreneur shines with stylish lamp shades

April 13, 2023 - 09:12
While helping his family farm, Hà Văn Thời noticed a lot of bamboo in the area. From this, he came up with the idea of making lights from bamboo.
Hà Văn Thời started his dream since 2019. — VNA/VNS Photo Đinh Thuỳ

LAI CHÂU — Hà Văn Thời, a Thái ethnic entrepreneur in Than Uyên, Lai Châu, created a product beloved by customers worldwide for its exotic but eco-friendly qualities, but the road wasn't always easy. 

Ten years ago, 20-year-old Thái ethnic man Hà Văn Thời finished high school and went to perform his military service.

After finishing the service, he returned to his hometown to raise pigs but failed due to the effects of the swine flu outbreaks.

In 2018, Thời left his hometown to work as a labourer in Hà Nội.

In 2019, he worked for a company in Hải Phòng. One day, while out for a walk, he noticed that many establishments producing decorative light shades were using plastic, glass, or paper.

When he stopped at a cafe to rest and drink, he saw some glass light shades on display and was inspired by the idea of creating lamp shades with different designs.

Back in his room, he wondered why he couldn't create unique, environmentally friendly light shades. He decided to quit his job and return to his hometown.

While helping his family farm, Thời noticed a lot of bamboo in the area. From this, he came up with the idea of making lights from bamboo.

Thời researched online to create unique and unusual light shade designs. He then continued to learn from carpenters how to cut bamboo tubes and create holes, as well as how to draw and create patterns.

After that, Thời returned home and immediately started experimenting. At first, he was still hesitant and constantly made mistakes. Sometimes, he felt discouraged and wanted to give up.

Thời thought that if he gave up and returned to his previous difficult job, he would regret it. So he was determined to persist. Every day, he diligently practised making the products. After a few months of experimentation, he created a product he was satisfied with.

At first, he made products with simple patterns and then gradually learned to make more complex ones. In the process, he created many different products from bamboo.

Bamboo lights from Hà Văn Thời are eco-friendly products. — VNA/VNS Photo Đinh Thuỳ

An eco-friendly product

When he started his entrepreneurial journey, Thời didn't have enough money to buy machinery. Thanks to the support from the Youth Union of Than Uyên District, he had additional capital to buy machinery and introduce his products.

In 2020-2021, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, he produced a small number of products and searched for markets. By 2022, the pandemic was under control, and he hired more people to produce many products with different designs. He focused on creating patterns that ensured both sharpness and were in line with the customs and traditions of the Thai people.

Holding a bamboo tube lamp in his hand, Hà Văn Thời shared that he initially made his products by hand. Later, he purchased machinery to create more complex product patterns and designs.

A finished product must go through many meticulous stages. Bamboo is chosen as the type of plant with straight tubes that is not too young to ensure the product's aesthetic value. The time to create a product depends on each type.

For simple products, one person can make 5-7 pieces per day; for complex designs such as a flower or animal shapes, only 2-3 products can be made per day by each person because they have to go through stages such as cutting, carving, grinding, polishing, drawing moulds and finishing paint.

Initially, the owner mainly sold products through social media. Gradually, more people knew and actively contacted to place orders.

Now, his startup model has produced 50-70 models from bamboo tubes, such as decorative lamps, drinking cups, office supply holders, clocks, etc.

Each product has a different price. Simple designs cost VNĐ65,000-80,000 (US$2.84-3.49) per product, office supply holders cost VNĐ45,000-50,000, and more complex designs cost VNĐ200,000 per set.

The products are mainly sold in markets in Lào Cai, Hà Nội, Sơn La and some other countries.

Hà Văn Thời's products quickly became known to everyone because they are unique, safe, and environmentally friendly. Consumers are increasingly aware of environmental protection, so his products are gradually being imported by stores.

So far, Thời's startup model has provided jobs for 3-5 local workers, with a salary ranging from VNĐ4.5-6 million ($196-261) per person per month. Most of the workers are young people in the village and have the same passion as him.

Hoàng Đình Nguyên, from Đông Village, Mường Than Commune, said that he saw Thời making handicrafts from bamboo, and he really liked it, so he applied for a job.

His current job is to paint and finish the products and create promotional videos. This job is very suitable for his abilities and provides a stable income. He thinks making bamboo tube lamps is very meaningful because natural products contribute to environmental protection.

Hà Văn Thời has created jobs for local youths with salaries up to VNĐ6 million (US$255) monthly. — VNA/VNS Photo ĐInh Thuỳ

In addition, the locality has a lot of bamboos, so they take advantage of the available raw materials to create products to promote the image of the homeland to everyone.

Thời said that in the future, for the bamboo tube lamp products to continue to expand into the market, he plans to expand his workshop and invest in more machinery.

However, due to limited capital, he hopes that the local government and the Youth Union will continue to support him in funding and promoting the sale of products, thereby contributing to creating stable employment for young people in the village.

Assessing Hà Văn Thời's entrepreneurial model, Đỗ Văn Tuấn, Secretary of the Thanh Uyên District Youth Union, emphasised that this is a new and first entrepreneurial model of young people in the district in handicrafts.

In the future, the District Youth Union will continue to support Thời in developing environmentally friendly products and connecting with homestays and restaurants to sell products.

In this term, the District Youth Union aims to make bamboo tube lamps and other products of young people become OCOP products with a brand and competitiveness in the market. — VNS