Tianjin Shengmiluo Trade Company: arts and crafts
A successful client incubated by the Tianjin Women's Incubator
Name of the Company: Tianjin Shengmiluo Trade Company
Main activity: Crafts and Gifts
Employees: 8 employees
Years in Business: 5 years
"No matter what problem I have about financing, operating or management, the TWBI is always there and has helped me to overcome challenges. When the government has new beneficiary policies and regulations, TWBI arranges for its clients to learn and discuss the new content so as to enhance our awareness of various concepts. I really feel at home with TWBI."
Jinlan, General Manager, Enterprise Development Department, TWBI
This interview was conducted with Jinlan, General Manager of the Enterprise Development Department at the Tianjin Women’s Business incubator.
Is this the first company that you have started, and what drove you towards it?
This is the second company I have started. My first company dealt with indoor decorative clocks and glass jewelry. Because of lack of experience and shortage of funds, I had to give up. In 2006, I went to the Tianjin Women's Business Incubator (TWBI) and the staff there gave me some specific guidance. When I was operating my craft business, I found that traditional Chinese arts and crafts are more and more preferred by people. I planned to work on a business of Chinese clay sculpture souvenirs. I talked about my idea with the head of the Center and the Enterprise Development Department. They gave me strong support. They believed that the clay sculpture handicrafts with national culture would be the favorites of Chinese and foreign tourists, especially during the time of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The potential of the market was great.
How did you finance your start -up operations and how long did it take for the company to become self-sustainable?
When I first started my business, I was self-financed. I received a small enterprise loan (30,000RMB) from Tianjin Women's Federation. I also borrowed some money from my friends. After the training courses in the center, I began to use e-commerce. At present, I have bought the best advertisement position on the Alibaba website and an advertisement in the Sixth China Beijing International Gifts Exhibitors. I expect after 1-1.5 years, my company will be self-sustainable.
What are your major products and services and how are they unique? What is your competition?
My business is focused on the chain operation of craft design, production, and sales. I also sell the local craft products with top brands such as Tianjin clay figurines of Zhang crafts, Yangliujing cultural paintings, Yangliuqing cutouts, and hand-painted pure arts. I also introduce new products according to the demand of market and customers’ needs. I have years of experience in operating crafts, and we also have our own factories and professional partners. Before I started our business, the TWBI led me to visit the Academy of Fine Arts and communicated with the experts to enhance our innovation and creativity on clay design and production. I believe that the quality of the product is the soul of an enterprise. I try my best to be sincere to our customers. I also believe that a professional team of staff is the wealth of enterprises. Good team work lead to success in the competitive market.
Are you planning to patent your product and do you see any obstacles in doing so?
I have no plan to patent our product yet.
What was the biggest challenge in starting an innovative business in your country and how did you overcome that?
For a small enterprise, financing is the bottleneck for future development. My company received the help of a 30,000 RMB small business loan.
How have you benefited from business incubation?
The courses offered by TWBI helped me understand the Internet’s function in terms of doing business. Through the Internet, I do my procurement, marketing, and sales. It expands the enterprise's reputation, and saves cost. I have used Alibaba B2B platform’s functions of intellectual members, products bids, and gold showroom advertising. I also reach out for other internet websites such as Taobao, China product platform, Huicong Network, and the Chinese Arts & Crafts network to make my products have the most market share. TWBI also supports me with free e-commerce store on its business web site, Tianjin E-Shopping Mall.
No matter what problem I have about financing, operating or management, the TWBI is always there and has helped me to overcome challenges. When the government has new beneficiary policies and regulations, TWBI arranges for its clients to learn and discuss the new content so as to enhance our awareness of various concepts. I really feel at home with TWBI.
Do you have some specific lessons that you know now and wish you would have known when you started your business, and which you would like to share with fellow entrepreneurs?
I was originally a technical worker who had no idea about running business. After my experience over the past several years, I would suggest people who want to s et up their own business make plan first, be good at learning and absorbing the successful experiences of others. I want to tell them do not say give up easily. It will be successful at the end.
Do you plan to internationalize your product and if so, how?
Yes, I do. I have thought about doing this by first of all establishing my own brand, and registering the trademark to protect my intellectual property right. Then I want to place emphasis on the cultural significance of my products. I will advertise my products through my existing networks and actively participate in all relevant exhibitions to promote my products to new networks.
Who are your clients and how many do you have? How are you focusing on expanding your user community?
My current customers are overseas Chinese, foreign customers, merchants who love Chinese culture and arts, and national crafts enthusiasts. We will also provide gift customization services for different businesses and government agents and departments which have ceremonies, conferences, or festivals.