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Quilling: Shipping A Centuries-Old Art Form To The World

By FedEx | First published: November 17, 2021    Updated: February 9, 2023

Global e-commerce is powering a Vietnamese SME’s mission to revive the traditional art of quilling, bringing handicrafts to customers all over the world.

It’s not often that you can transform a much-loved hobby into a global enterprise – especially one that creates positive social impact at the same time. In late 2011, the passion for a little-known craft called quilling led Vietnamese entrepreneur Huong Wolf to leave behind a successful career in marketing. She set up her own handicraft business, Quilling Card.

At the time, Huong never imagined that it would grow into a greeting card company of around 500 employees, with her handcrafted products adorning the homes of customers across the globe.
Vietnamese woman sits on floor in fabric warehouse with brightly coloured ribbons

Transforming passion for quilling into commercial success

Quilling, the art of manipulating and arranging small strips of paper into detailed designs, has been around for centuries. This intricate form of artwork, which rolls, loops and curls paper into decorative shapes, is commonly found on greeting cards, boxes and jewelry.

But transforming a passion into a business is no easy task:

“We are fortunate to have a stable supply chain and operations that continue to run smoothly. Having FedEx take care of all logistics-related matters allows us to focus on our core business operations and invest in our people.”

Because quilling is a niche art, Huong spent three years training her staff, but only around 20% stayed on in the company. Despite this setback, Huong persisted because of her faith in the business. Vietnamese people have been known as skillful artisans throughout history. She believed that operating a quilling factory in Vietnam would not only create better opportunities for the people but also help preserve an important tradition.
Red and yellow flowers crafted from rolled ribbons

“We wanted to be the first in the world to commercialize quilling cards successfully. Despite numerous challenges, I’m proud of our journey which has led us to where we are now,” says Huong. “We have clients from all over the world, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, China, France, UK and Chile. In 2018, more than 1.5 million cards were sold.”

Human empowerment at the core

Many of Quilling Card’s staff members have speech disabilities, so the company makes sure that staff fluent in sign language are part of the training team. Allying with the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) has helped foster Huong’s vision. The FTF focuses on maintaining a code of values for proper treatment of employees and encourages growth and sustainable business practices all over the world.

Employees are paid a salary 25% above the national average and their benefits package includes six months paid maternity leave. Quilling Card has assembled three workshops in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where each design is meticulously handcrafted by a local artisan.

“My vision for Quilling Card Vietnam is to create a Quilling de Maison (or house of quilling) that nurtures a holistic, inspiring lifestyle for the artisans,” says Huong. “I want to bring more jobs to Vietnamese people, especially women and underprivileged individuals, and foster a positive and joyful work culture.”
Vietnamese factory workers in purple uniform outside workshop

Huong believes that human empowerment is the single most important factor in running a successful business. An important priority is ensuring the artisan workforce remain inspired and supported.

“This type of company culture reduces stress levels for everyone. As the CEO, it means I can spend my time focusing on bigger issues, and getting things done by the end of day,” says Huong.

COVID-19 highlighted the most essential aspect of quilling art: human connection

Greeting cards have always been a way to remind people that they are cared for, appreciated and loved. Receiving a 100% handmade card makes people feel special. Quilling Cards are not bought last-minute, usually selected with a specific person in mind. Often, they are framed and displayed as wall art, making them a cherished keepsake gift.

“We saw many people looking to connect with their loved ones in a meaningful way while socially distanced,” says Huong.
Handmade greeting card of fish and coral made from paper ribbon

Running a successful business in Vietnam - from the U.S.

Despite local production in Vietnam, Quilling Card are headquartered in Massachusetts, U.S.

“In the early days, I had to beg my brother, who used to be a doctor, to help set up a quilling factory in Vietnam,” says Huong. After getting settled in the U.S., it was not long before the first workshop—where all quilled designs would be expertly handcrafted—was established in Huong’s hometown of Ho Chi Minh City and later Fair Trade Certified in 2015.

With a head office in the U.S., trusted and reliable delivery of orders is critical in ensuring smooth business operations, brand reputation and customer retention.

Reliable logistics serve as the backbone of Quilling Cards

“When we design samples and other production components, we need them to be moved safely and on time, particularly when working on new projects with our clients,” says Huong. “We’ve always given priority to providing excellent and responsive customer service. For projects that require shipping throughout each stage of development, reliable and timely shipping is essential to keep projects on schedule.”

Design and product development is a largely collaborative effort between two teams on opposite sides of the world. To launch new designs and products effectively, and to continue fulfilling the company mission of preserving and sharing the art of quilling, both teams in the U.S and Vietnam need a reliable carrier.
“We have had FedEx as our logistics provider for a long time to handle our shipments so now it’s a seamless process,” says Huong. “They have a deep understanding of the local culture in every country in which they operate.

“We have had FedEx as our logistics provider for a long time to handle our shipments so now it’s a seamless process,” says Huong. “They have a deep understanding of the local culture in every country in which they operate . I don’t need to worry about customs clearance processes and procedures. Their digital tools provide real-time tracking of shipments and are convenient to use, helping us deliver a good customer experience.”

Preparing for what’s next

Huong wants to promote a better image of Vietnam to the world. Quilling has been a famous art form for centuries, but her businesses has succeeded in commercializing it for the first time.

“On the cultural side, we are preserving and sharing an artistic legacy dating back thousands of years. We hope future generations will continue appreciating it and carry on making this art”.

Huong has now expanded her range of products from greetings cards to wall art, jewelry, stationery and household ornaments. By meeting modern lifestyle needs, her company can help this traditional art form keep pace with today’s consumer.

For the right support for your business across Asia Pacific and beyond, discover our dedicated e-commerce solutions here.
“We have had FedEx as our logistics provider for a long time to handle our shipments so now it’s a seamless process,” says Huong. “They have a deep understanding of the local culture in every country in which they operate.


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