In the midst of modern life, Mr. Cao Thanh Tuan (37 years old) is still diligently studying old oil lamps
HAI PHONG – Once stuck until he fell ill due to a loss in business, Mr. Ha Anh Tuan found a new direction – artistic soap production.
In mid-November, on a large wooden table, Mr. Tuan, 30 years old, in An Dong commune, An Duong district, always mixes olive oil, melaleuca oil, and some ingredients, then divides it into more than a dozen small bags waiting to be mixed. color to form a soap bar in the shape of a starry night painting by artist Van Gogh.
Looking at the picture, Mr. Tuan began to mix colors into the divided soap bags. “I sketched the picture in my head and then sprayed each layer of colored soap into the mold. The operation is like spraying decorative cream on a birthday cake”, Mr. Tuan explained while doing it.
More than an hour after putting in the wooden mold, the soap dries. Mr. Tuan cut the soap block into 10 small cakes, weighing about 100 gr. In the cross-section of each cake is a picture of a starry night. To make a new batch of soap, Tuan takes 30 to 45 days, including ideation, specialized mold design, mixing, decoration and drying.
From now until Christmas, Mr. Tuan will produce about 14,000 artistic soaps.Ha Anh Tuan and a bar of soap decorated the image of the Eiffel Tower. Photo: Le Tan
Artistic soap produced by Mr. Tuan has a variety of fragrances, decorated with many layers of colors and details. Raw materials have invoices of origin, and certificates of safety for skin use by the US Food and Drug Administration. Mr. Tuan named his brand Jenni Home, the current retail price of soap is 105,000-180,000 VND (5$)/cake depending on the model and ingredients used.
To come to this job, Mr. Tuan spent more than two years with many events. In 2017, Mr. Tuan entered Ho Chi Minh City to trade in clothes and cosmetics. When the Covid epidemic broke out, his business decreased, and he lost nearly 300 million VND(13,000$). “The stress of losing, then the time of separation made me feel that life was ambiguous, gradually losing my ability to process numbers. I was scared of everything,” Mr. Tuan shared.
At the end of 2020, Mr. Tuan returned to Hai Phong for treatment. “At that time, I only had a few million dongs left. My mind was even more unstable. I always had a feeling that my loved ones were in danger. Everyone who came to the house thought that they would harm their parents and younger brother. Seeing loud noises was a panic. The doctors concluded that I have an anxiety disorder, a neurological disease”, Mr. Tuan said about the difficult time. Fortunately, he was cared for by his family, so by early 2021, his condition was better.
With the desire to find motivation for life, Mr. Tuan discussed with his younger brother Ha Anh Tung to research the market and find products to start a business. Realizing that handmade soap is popular with many Vietnamese customers, he started working with the remaining one million dongs. The first batch of soap did not have unique drawings but also received some orders from people around, priced at 45,000 VND (2$)/ cake.Painting on soap must be vertical. The maker must be able to imagine spatial geometry, remembering each layer of shapes to color correctly. Photo: Le Tan
After a few months, Mr. Tuan realized that if he only made monotonous handmade soaps, he would sooner or later fail, so he decided to focus on improving the product’s design. The most difficult part is painting on the soap must be vertical, the maker needs to be able to imagine spatial geometry, and remember each layer of shapes to color correctly. The operation is also decisive and fast because once the soap has solidified, it cannot be done anymore, Mr. Tuan explained.
Due to tight finances, and many failed experiments, Tuan’s work stagnates for a long time. In order to earn more money to make soap, his brother had to do some other jobs. “This is probably the most difficult time. However, I cannot help my brother’s efforts, the encouragement of my parents should put aside all fear to continue”, Mr. Tuan shared.
Realizing that self-study could lead to a dead end, in November 2021, Mr. Tuan decided to go to Korea to learn a trade. He went to Seoul to study a famous Korean artistic soap production brand, the tuition fee for six days was 32 million VND. The cost of accommodation and travel costs an additional 20 million VND.
The course helped Mr. Tuan improve his skills as well as knowledge in the production of handmade soaps. From March 2022, the products made have better quality, the business gradually stabilized.Soap was drawn by Mr. Tuan as a dragon ball in Da Nang. Photo: Le Tan
Having experience in the business and distribution of cosmetics while in Ho Chi Minh City, Mr. Tuan distributes soap products through online channels. On social networking platforms, he targets people who love crafts and like to use natural products.
From the stalemate leading to illness, Mr. Tuan has now built a product with his own brand. On average, each month, Mr. Tuan and his three associates produce 6,000-8,000 bars of soap, earning an income of more than 100 million VND.
Ms. Nguyen Huong Giang, 40 years old, living in So Dau ward, Hong Bang district, using artistic soap made by Mr. Tuan for more than 4 months, said the product has a pleasant fragrance and does not dry out the skin. “This November 20, I ordered 10 cakes as gifts for teachers at boys’ school,” said Ms. Giang.
Talking about his future plans, Mr. Tuan said that he will open a larger production workshop so that those who are passionate about soap art can come to learn, visit directly, and at the same time build a brand to reduce the use of soap. Use plastic packaging, and make use of green materials.
Photo: Internet (vinlove.net)