Zó Project is a social business working to preserve, support and expand Vietnamese traditional paper and the technique used to produce it in a sustainable and creative way.
The idea of setting up Zó project initially came from the passion of the founder, Tran Hong Nhung. Zó is a dynamic and young team that wishes to bring traditional values into modern society. In return, our profits are going back to the community of paper makers to create job opportunities and stable income in an ethnic minority village in Northern Vietnam.
Local knowledge and contemporary life
When she first heard of Dó paper, Tran Hong Nhung already had a big career working with international NGO’s like Oxfam and Vietnam Plus, but when a friend told her about Dó Paper, everything changed. She knew little about it until she went to the village of the paper makers, a visit that had a huge impact on her. She was impressed with the incredible efforts they put into keeping this tradition alive, and she knew she could do something to help them. Therefore, she made the decision to quit her job and follow her heart. She studied the market possibilities for a business and soon realized the best way to make this work would be to create a social enterprise. She strongly believes that the best way to help people is to support them and to give them the means to develop by themselves
“Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for one day,
teach a man how to fish and you’ll feed him for the rest of his life.”
In 2013, she took the plunge and created Zó Project. Now, Zó helps 20 families in two different villages – Suoi Co and Suoi Re – and hopes to expand to another village and develop tourism to show travelers this incredible Vietnamese tradition.
In Viet Nam, increased industrialization in the past 30 years has contributed to the decline in demand for this product, and the art of creating this beautiful paper has been largely cast aside. Therefore, we have made an effort to preserve this local knowledge and revive it again for our modern life.
Our mission :
We seek to preserve the process of handmade paper making in accordance with environmental standards. By constantly creating new products with contemporary designs, we also wish to increase the value of Vietnamese handmade paper to incorporate this ancient tradition in our daily lives. It is very interesting to adapt this ancient tradition to our modern life and create contemporaneous products with this paper.
It is important for us to build up and strengthen the links between actors in the value chain of handmade paper so that they can perpetuate this tradition. We want to make sure we transmit this local knowledge to the next generation and to the whole world.
Who we work with :
Zó works with the artisans from paper villages to make and improve the ancient paper making technique in Viet Nam. The profits we make from selling the products made from this paper go directly to these families. Since they are primarily farmers, they can only make the paper in their spare time. In time, we hope to sell enough products to allow them to be full-time paper makers. This would demonstrate for younger generations that being a professional paper maker is a reliable and durable job, and that they can perpetuate the tradition.
Zó also works closely with designers and artists to create new handmade paper products for contemporary uses. Our products are made from a great range of original and inspiring designs.
Finally, Zó works with local authorities and ecologists to ensure that the natural materials are harvested according to forest management regulations. It is important for us to make sure the production of this paper is respectful to the environment.
Our products and services :
We design and develop products from handmade papers. The paper is made in the region of Hoa Binh by paper makers, and we make the final products in our shop in Hanoi. We are constantly developing new products and organizing workshops for adults and children. We collaborate with local and international artists to organize cultural events, and we also work with designers from all around the world to create original products that will please everyone!
Our social impact :
As a social enterprise, Zó Project has set certain goals regarding our intended social impact.
Our main goal is to preserve our traditions and culture by incorporating them into our modern lives. We also seek to create jobs and a sustainable income for our partners, the paper makers.
Through our project, we believe it is possible to protect the environment and promote a lifestyle with sustainable consumption by making sure that our products are based on ecological standards.
Check out the Tedx Talk by founder Nhung about Zó Project : “Believe in yourself and love what you do”