Huong (pictured on the right) with her “dream team” in Vietnam.
International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8, and it is our tradition to feature our partnerships with women artisans and women-owned fair trade businesses all month long! Our first interview is with Huong Nguyen Wolf, the co-founder of Quilling Card. These cards are one of the most beloved products we offer, by customers and recipients alike.
Quilling Card owns and operates their fair trade workshop in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and since 2011, they have employed nearly 500 locals. Their families and communities all benefit from the creation of these works of art. Learn more about Huong’s journey!
1. Huong, what inspired you to start Quilling Card and work with women artisans?
I was inspired to start Quilling Card because of my desire to preserve and share the lost, ancient art of quilling. My vision was to create a Quilling de Maison (“House of Quilling”) and nurture a holistic, inspiring lifestyle for women artisans. The practice of quilling encourages creativity and produces meditative effects—qualities that can provide benefits such as reduced stress and improved emotional health, even beyond working hours. A typical punch-in and punch-out culture—as seen throughout most businesses—would not have adequately fostered the positive and joyful spirits which shine through each handcrafted card.
2. What country or countries do you currently work in?
The designs are conceptualized and created in Framingham, MA and handcrafted in our own Fair Trade factory in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam—my native country. We recently opened a new workshop in Burma structured around the same Fair Trade values, to train and employ Burmese women.
3. How are Quilling Cards made?
Quilling is the art of rolling, coiling and shaping small strips of paper to create a cohesive three-dimensional design. This technique is used to create all of the designs seen in our extensive collection of greeting cards as well as specialty gifts such as journals, sticky note covers, jewelry, hair accessories, decorative wall art, DIY quilling kits, and custom designs.
4. What is your personal favorite product and why?
My personal favorite product is our new collection of quilled braille greeting cards. We currently employ over a dozen deaf artisans who directly inspired my vision of using this tactile art form to create braille, forming a special connection from the hand to the heart. Using the sense of touch to engage with every quilled design creates a special shared experience between the deaf artisans who use their skilled hands to craft each card, and the blind recipients who will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of quilling beneath their fingertips. The current market for braille greeting cards is small and lacking diversity. With the addition of our artistic interpretation of braille we hope to provide an exciting new way for the blind to celebrate occasions and special moments while also having the accessibility to experience this ancient art form. Quilling is truly an art for all the senses. The braille collection offers a uniqueness in the way that every design is equally beautiful to experience by sight or touch, making the cards an ideal gift for anyone!
5. When women work, the impact of the investment is greatly multiplied. What benefits or positive changes have you seen in the communities where the women work and live?
I have often observed that financially independent women develop a new sense of empowerment. This independence allows for women to have more control over the lives and well-being of themselves and their families. By no longer needing to depend on and provide explanations to a spouse for every purchasing decision, working women are more inclined to provide things that nurture healthier lifestyles.
6. We love your commitment to empowering other women. What advice would you give to girls who are interested in getting involved in causes they are passionate about?
My advice would be to truly believe in the cause and be able to put your whole heart into it. Make sure you are putting in your best effort; whenever there are doubts just keep going because regardless of any project’s outcome, I am a strong believer in good karma. Lastly, it can be easy to lose clarity of purpose when deeply involved in something—take a step back every so often and remind yourself why you got involved and what your goals were in the beginning.
A group of artists proudly display their work at the workshop in Ho Chi Minh.
7. What woman in your life has had the biggest impact on you personally?
My grandma has always been someone I looked up to and who has influenced me the most throughout my life. While she did have any formal academic training, she was so incredibly smart in life skills. She was witty, caring and the glue that kept our family together. She faced challenges in life with such grace, it almost seemed as though she was able to anticipate anything that came her way. With a calm spirit, it seemed like there wasn’t any problem she couldn’t solve or get through. My grandma taught me to not take anything for granted in life, live in the present and cherish every single moment.