A Ho Chi Minh City teacher with a love for the environment has discovered a passion for upcycling fabric scraps, which she uses to make various creations and launch a project called Made by Zy.
Nguyen Thanh Ngoc Thao, a young teacher who is nicknamed Zy, is known as a person who is enthusiastic about leftover fabric and do-it-yourself projects.
Thao developed a passion for creating things as a student with the goal of being financially independent.
In 2015, Thao was able to sell enough handmade accessories like bracelets and various pieces of jewelry to cover her tuition instead of asking her parents for it.
Thao began using fabric scraps to make accessories at the end of 2019. She started selling the products to support a community project to provide fresh water in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai.
She paid a lot of attention to fabric remnants after paying a visit to a relative’s tailor shop in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho at the beginning of 2020.
Taking the trimmings to the home, the young teacher tried out creating some accessories as gifts for herself.
Regarding them as only a way to play with her passion, Thao was surprised by the welcome and support from her close friends and acquaintances.
The project Made by Zy that specializes in making accessories out of fabric leftovers was officially launched at that moment.
Currently, apart from her main job as a STEM teacher in Ho Chi Minh City, Thao immerses in her own sewing project to play with fabric scraps on weekends.
“I would like to be always ready to work. I can do what I want to at the moment,” she said.
“I believe in the future, I would have many precious memories when I look back to this time, and I would never regret anything.”
Thao’s aunt, who is a tailor shop owner, has given her very much support as she understands how useful and practical her project would become. The aunt has supplied Thao with a lot of craft materials.
“The fabric scraps have now been able to be recycled in a useful way instead of being thrown away like before,” shared Thao.
“My aunt suggested some craft ideas that can be made out of trimmings.”
When Thao’s project gained traction, the sources of fabric scraps have definitely increased with more contributions from other tailor shops.
Like Thao’s aunt, the tailor shops’ owners hope a huge amount of fabric leftovers would be given a new lease of life in a more useful manner instead of being dumped in a landfill.
Under the young woman’s skillful and creative hands, soon-to-be discarded trimmings can be transformed into beautiful items like colorful headbands, ribbons, envelopes, earrings, water bottle holders, and bags.
Learning from mistakes
Thao was not hesitant to talk about mistakes she made during her interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
As a young entrepreneur, she occasionally found herself in troublesome situations that she had to struggle to overcome.
She had to spend one hour making one headband during the first days. That was when Thao did not know how to cut, combine, and sew the scraps together properly and beautifully.
In addition, customers did not welcome her first products due to their uncompetitive prices.
“I was turned down by so many people that I felt extremely disappointed,” recalled Thao. Some of her co-workers those days decided to leave for more stable jobs as well.
“My feelings were ambiguous and stressed at that time,” she added. Thao is determined to get out of her comfort zone to challenge herself in the business area.
Despite several obstacles in the beginning, Thao tried her best to figure out efficient ways of making headbands from fabric scraps.
It takes her just two to three minutes to complete a headband now, and she can make around 100 pieces each day.
Thao took part in a group sharing her ideas of transforming fabric leftovers into headbands. Her dedication to the idea caught the fellow community members’ attention.
Eventually, she got an offer from a stranger of one online community to bring her products to present in their store, which she considered as ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ then.
Thao has run into some problems while pursuing her passion and she found herself growing up after such challenges.
She becomes more careful in choosing potential partners by the time thanks to those sad experiences.
Thao failed to conduct a process of collecting and recycling second-hand clothes in February 2021 due to a shortage of staff, and she could not control the collected clothes’ quality either.
After the failure, she held many mini-workshops where participants brought their old clothes to and repurposed them into new things like headbands and ribbons by themselves.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Thao went online to sell her handmade products. She connected with some e-commerce sites specializing in selling eco-friendly goods to reach her potential customers.
The woman intends to explore more new kinds of craft materials besides fabric scraps, especially plastic waste, in creating more practical and useful items in the near future.
Exhibition of disadvantaged children’s paintings held in Hà Nội
HÀ NỘI — Exhibition “Gratitude” featuring 50 artworks by disadvantaged children during the COVID-19 pandemic, took place at the United Nations Office in Hà Nội on Friday on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
This event is a follow-up to the contest “For a Triumphant Việt Nam” for child patients aged 4-16 nationwide.
The works of the contest were previously exhibited at the National Museum of Fine Art in Hà Nội from November 18-22, attracting more than 1,000 visitors, including Vietnamese President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc and his wife, Madam Trần Nguyệt Thu.
In the opening ceremony, Rana Flower, UNICEF Representative in Việt Nam, emphasised the importance of taking good care of disadvantaged children in our society.
She expressed concern for the current lack of access to many areas of life, especially health care and education, which many children, especially those with disabilities, are facing.
Thảo Griffiths, Chief Representative of the American Veterans Fund in Việt Nam, said that besides economic development, a well-developed Việt Nam is shown by how we treat children, especially the vulnerable ones.
At the exhibition, through the stories, messages, pictures and thoughts ingrained in each work, viewers are taken on an emotional journey raising awareness and an understanding of COVID through the children’s eyes.
Those interested will have a chance to buy these paintings to raise funds to support the children. All the proceeds from the sale of the paintings will be managed by the Hope Foundation – VnExpress to support children with cancer, disabilities, or from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Three children, including Chu Ánh Tuyết (aged 15) with cancer, Lê Thị Hồng Ngọc (aged 15), and Lee Nguyen Sae Hee (aged 10), showcased their resilient spirit through the paintings at the exhibition.
Though Tuyết was tired from her cancer treatment, she tried her best to complete her drawing titled “The magical hands”, illustrating people’s hands joining together in the COVID 19 pandemic.
Ngọc moved everyone at the exhibition with her “Good Night” picture as she talked about the children who died during the COVID 19 pandemic and her wishes for a brighter future.
Nguyễn Thị Ánh Vân, Sae Hee’s mother, shared her difficulties when raising an autistic child and joys when discovering his talents for drawing. —
Flowers are in blossom everywhere – now is the time for the best photos
After waking up early, Bùi Thanh Tuyền and her friends were ready just minutes later to start their flower tour in a suburb of Hà Nội.
It took the friends about an hour and a half hour to reach Ba Vì District, 50km from the city centre. Here, they could admire the beautiful yellow dã quỳ (Mexican sunflower or tree marigold) fields that have become a magnet for thousands of people in the area.
“I just heard about dã quỳ in the north recently. I talked with my friends and we were all excited about the tour. We did not want to miss the season of dã quỳ, which only last a few weeks in the last three months of the year,” Tuyền told Việt Nam News.
“They bloom in a short period, so if you guys do not hurry you will have to wait another year!”
Tuyền and her friends shared that they had a great time together, taking photos to remember their time with the dã quỳ. They all agree that they will come back to Bà Vì next year.
Hoàng Quang Khôi wanted to relax after a busy working week and decided to take his family to the Ba Vì National Park, 10km further from where Tuyền was, to see the flowers.
“We took a bus to get there. On the way to the park, we saw many pathways with dã quỳ blossoms but here it is like a huge garden. We are in front of a big large golden carpet of flowers,” said Khôi.
“We have to get up early to get here at the best time of day, between 8-10 am in the morning, otherwise we would have to wait until 5 or 6pm when the flowers are golden in the sunset.
“If possible, I would like to camp here, spending the night in the park, and then we can see these beauties during sunrise, which would be amazing!” said Khôi, who joined hundreds of people in taking photos with the wild yellow blossoms.
Dã quỳ are visible from the gates of the park and can be seen along most of the 12.5km road to the top of Ba Vì Mountain.
In Việt Nam, the flowers are also called cúc quỳ, sơn quỳ, quỳ dại and hướng dương dại. They are a symbol of faithful love, energetic vitality, pride and resilience. When exactly they bloom changes a little bit each year, depending on the weather conditions, but it is usually between October and the end of December.
It is said that the French grew dã quỳ in the 1930s. For many years, it was considered a kind of wild plant and was regularly uprooted. But since 2015, the park managers decided to let them grow and began taking care of them. They realised that tourists love the flowers and they come back more often for them.
Dã quỳ is a member of the daisy family. It also can be found in various cool climate localities such as in Mộc Châu District, Sơn La Province, and Pass Sài Hồ in Lạng Sơn Province in the north, Quảng Trị Province’s Hướng Hóa District in the central region and Gia Lai Province’s Pass Mang Yang and Chư Đăng Ya Volcano in the Central Highlands. But Đà Lạt City in Lâm Đồng Province is the most famous destination for this flower.
Dã quỳ can be seen in various corners in the highland city but the best sites are on the outskirts. Trekkers and locals have mapped out different routes to these help tourists make the most of the beautiful scenery.
People can visit Vạn Thành Flower Village, Elephant Waterfall and Langbiang Mount which is about 13km from the centre city. Following another road, visitors can travel about 30km to Trại Mát and Cầu Đất areas in Xuân Trường District. Around 100km away are more spots in Tà Nung, Đơn Dương and Tu Tra.
This time of the year is also the season of many other beautiful flowers for tourists in Đà Lạt.
Pink foxtail grass has lured people, especially the young generation, in recent years. The grass turns pink in early November and remains that colour for more than a month. This wild grass covers the hills near Tuyền Lâm Lake, Golden Stream and Thái Phiên Flower Village.
“The Golden Stream is the most desired spot for wedding photos this season. Here, they will have a beautiful and romantic background that will make their albums spectacular,” said Phạm Minh Tài, who took photos for Tiên Tiên, a bride from Đồng Nai.
Tiên said it was not difficult to get to Đà Lạt. People have to make a health declaration before arriving in the city and follow COVID-19 instructions.
She believed that her album with the pink foxtail will be the best memory of her life.
November and December are the months of the mimosa, or silver wattle, which is native to Australia but can also be found in Đà Lạt, where it is considered a symbol of the city as it can be found nowhere else in the country.
The small yellow or golden-yellow flowers are very fluffy in appearance, due to the presence of numerous stamens. The delicate, fern-like silvery green leaves are attractive all year round. The plants become a mass of bright yellow when they flower in late winter.
A huge number can be found at Pass Prenn and Pass Mimosa.
Back to the north, Sơn La Province’s Mộc Châu plateau is a must-visit destination for its overwhelmingly beautiful white rapeseed and white plum flowers, which bloom from December to early February.
Vast white rapeseed fields in Áng and Pa Phách villages are the biggest and most beautiful, providing tourists with enchanting flowers that stretch to the horizon.
The plum flowers cover many hills and valleys. Visitors can see their blossoms everywhere, from villages to upland fields and along both sides of the highways.
Nà Ka valley, home to over 100ha of clear plum trees, has an exquisite landscape, fresh mountain air, and juicy plums that can be eaten right off the tree in the harvest season.
The next destination for flowers should be Hà Giang Province, about 280km from Hà Nội.
Tam giác mạch (buckwheat) blossoms have tiny wild pink flowers with triangular-shaped leaves, which are in season from late October to December.
The flowers typically have three colours; light pink, glistening purple and dark red. In the bright sunshine, they look like a watercolour painting. Their wild and endless beauty has seduced many people.
Buckwheat flowers symbolise love and happiness. They are cultivated for their grain-like seeds, which are used to make food specialities by ethnic people in the mountainous region.
Sủng Là, Lũng Cú and Xín Mần districts are familiar names to many that have attended the annual Tam Giác Mạch Festival.
“Hà Giang is my next destination, though I will have to check the COVID-19 pandemic control measure before travelling. I can’t wait to visit see the buckwheat flowers,” Tuyền said.
The mother of three also wants to take photos with cúc họa mi (white daisy) in Hà Nội, which has been a hot trend in the capital in recent weeks.
There are many breathtaking fields of flowers that are just waiting for flower lovers to visit, including 60ha of sunflowers in Nghĩa Đàn District in Nghệ An Province; a vast sea of Chi Pâu or swertia in the Tà Chì Nhù Mount in Yên Bái Province; and rapeseed flower fields in Thái Bình Province’s Vũ Thư District and Hà Nội’s Gia Lâm District.
Street arts festival kicks off in HCM City
HCM CITY – A street art festival, Saigon Urban Arts: Street Mural Painting (SUA 2021), will be held in HCM City from December 4-18.
The event is co-organised by the French Institute and the Goethe-Institut in HCM City with the support of the Franco-German Cultural Fund, supported by Pro Helvetia-New Delhi, a liaison office of the Swiss Arts Council in India.
During the event, Vietnamese and international street artists will paint five murals at apartment buildings at 1A Nguyễn Đình Chiểu and the walls at Mai Thị Lựu Street in District 1.
The performance will include Lưu Đoàn Duy Linh – Daes, Nguyễn Tấn Lực aka Cresk, and Lê Nhật Huy – Kleur, who won the JAM – Vietnam Urban Arts 2021 competition held by the French Institute in Việt Nam in April.
They will pair with artists Enni from Germany, Marc Lee from Switzerland, and Bouda from France to create three murals.
Vietnamese artists Daos 501 and Vietnamese-French artist Suby One, who are famous among the street art community in the country, will create their own murals.
All five art works will reflect the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.
Visitors can see the artists work at the venue from 9am – 12pm and 2pm – 5pm on December 11.
SUA 2021 aims to honour the beauty of street arts. Through events, audiences can understand more about the values of the art, including beautifying the city and connecting people.
The organisers will continue to host the festival in March featuring artists from France and Germany, workshops at local schools, seminars on street arts, performances of music and hip hop, and a street ar festival.
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