Seeking a place for golden grass
The entrepreneur Ho Mien Mien makes semi-precious jewelry out of golden grass and Brazilian stones, as well as gold-plated items, which she sells domestically and abroad. The plan is to increase exports.
São Paulo – Brazil’s Ho Mien Mien left a corporate career behind to start her own business, and has plans of using the semi-precious jewelry she makes to spread the country’s natural wonders around the world. A Taiwanese-born, Brazilian-naturalized citizen, last year she founded Mien’s Closet, which sells items made of golden grass, Brazilian natural stones, and gold-plated items.
Sales are made online to domestic and foreign buyers. Since the brand’s website went online, in July of last year, Mien has shipped orders to Panama, Mexico, Israel, the United States and Chile. But those sales were to individual buyers, comprising 25 units each at most, and the entrepreneur plans on selling wholesale to other countries.
From the moment she first considered starting a business, she had exports in mind, and envisioned the appeal such a uniquely Brazilian product would have in foreign land. She sees more than just beauty in her product. “What draws me to golden grass is the sustainability,” Mien says. The Brazilian plant is grown by communities in Tocantins state’s Jalapão area.
Mien is keeping an eye out for commercial promotion events by the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) and also plans on packing her items into a suitcase and going on a foreign buyer-seeking trip this year. She intends to start with nearby countries like Chile and Mexico, where she has acquaintances and some support.
The entrepreneur also hopes to sell to Arab countries. “I know Arab women are super-concerned about their looks,” says Mien, who believes the female population that cannot afford gold items might be potential buyers. “I think there’s a market there,” she says, adding that “Brazil has a solid reputation in the Arab countries.”
Ho Mien Mien designs the semi-precious jewelry and sources production to workshops. She currently offers three different lines, one with golden grass items, another with Brazilian natural stones such as amethyst, citrine and quartz druses, and a third line of gold-plated items. Some of the latter are silver- and black-silver toned. She also plans on combining golden grass and gold plating. The items range from earrings to necklaces, collars and bracelets.
Mien moved to Brazil at a very early age, when she was three, so she considers herself a Brazilian “made in Taiwan.” She wanted to be an entrepreneur since she was little. By the time she was five or six, Mien used to say she wanted to be a supermarket owner. After graduating in Business Administration at the University of São Paulo (USP), in 2000, however, she found herself pursuing a corporate career like her colleagues. Mien explained that university course steered her in her direction.
In her nine-year stint with a multinational corporation in the sea transportation industry, she worked in marketing, customer services, trade marketing, excellence in processes, projects, etc, in Brazil, Singapore and Denmark, and decided to quit the company in 2009, while holding a position as director.
Prior to that, however, in 2006, Mien had taken a two-year jewelry course as a hobby. Since then, she had been considering starting a business. After she left the company, in 2010, Mien founded a business-oriented language school with her husband. Then, she had to undergo surgery and was forced to stay home for a few months last year. That was when she took the time to plan out her company.
She would post images of the semi-precious item designs she was making online, and then she’d post the completed items, and soon they became a hit among her acquaintances. That was when the orders started coming in. The website was launched and Mien went in business, with dreams to grow and thrive.
*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum