In the interview series “Inspiration,” Bright profiles young Vietnamese entrepreneurs, creatives and others who have chosen to pursue their passion and through that, share positivity and happiness to others. This is such a story.
There are many ways to spread love and positive emotions. For Minh Phuc – founder of “bended” interior brand PlyConcept, it’s through furniture. It may sound like an odd outlet for sharing positivity, but as Minh Phuc would say: “a simple bookshelf can put a smile to a room… and your face.” Helping people return home to a friendly environment became his passion and mission.
A business at risk, a son to the rescue
The initial inspiration that led this young founder to bend wood was when his family’s business was at a crossroads. Enjoying a steady and profitable job in finance, Minh Phuc was suddenly woken up to the fact that his parents’ legacy was being endangered. Their decades of experience in creating chairs and other furniture that was made out of one piece of wood, bended, started becoming less and less competitive. Others had figured out how to do it, and the business had become one of commodities. What once was a thriving empire, now was at risk of being extinct.
That, is something Minh Phuc couldn’t let happen. But he realized that even if he wore to take over, he needed to change things. The business would not survive by doing the same thing over and over again. A reinvention was paramount.
One man’s trash..
The answer, it turns out, was in the trash bin. After taking over the business, Minh Phuc realized that for every batch of goods the workshop created, a few dozen pieces of excess wood would be left over. And if not used, be thrown away. It struck him that not only would it be a waste to throw away perfectly good wood, but also that this may where he could innovate the family business into a new age.
So, he started looking for ideas. From researching online to the real world around him, he applied all his creativity to find use for these “extras.”
The solution? Shelves. From a long piece of leftover wood, he cut it short and bent it using his family’s “recipe.” Then he would soften its corners and cover it with a layer of oak. And all of a sudden, there was a simple but practical computer shelf. A shelf. that looked much friendlier to the eye than the usual sharp-cornered, slightly aggressive looking ones.
The product made for perfect gifts to relatives and friends or as a bonus for his customers. Gradually, after receiving lots of positive feedback, Minh Phuc conceived the idea of an interior product line made from surplus parts. Products, that would not only be practical, but add a smile to each office and home in Vietnam.
When Home is Happiness, and the product is just the beginning
One of my first and very positive impressions of PlyConcept is the extremely charming and witty slogan. “Về nhà thấy vui” or broadly translated as “going home, feeling happy” is the founder’s way to convey the spirit that “home is the place where you can truly relax and feel happy.”
And for him, this is much more than a slogan. It’s a way of living. The shelves aren’t just “things to sell.” They are truly designed and created with the idea of improving people’s lives in mind. Besides, it’s not just the product itself, it’s what you do with it. It’s what you put on that shelf that helps you create uplifting stories with your family.
And this may also be why every shelf actually comes with a book about positivity and happiness. It’s what you do with it, that counts. Minh Phuc himself truly embodies his own mission. Asked about his schedule, he’s clear that Sundays are completely off-limits to the outside world. No matter how big of an order someone would want to place, or how urgent something may seem. Sunday is for him and his family. In their home. Surrounded by smiling shelves.
Plyconcept and sharing, not selling
Bringing these new ideas to the market ideas isn’t easy. But when you do what you love, when you’re dedicated and patient, you’ll get there. For Minh Phuc, it took quite a long time to find the right customers. But for something that carries so much positive emotion, the shelves started … flying off the shelves once people truly understood the idea behind them.
The families who bought them not only spread the word about the product, but also about Minh Phuc and his mission. Much of the reviews of this company mention first and foremost the dedication of the owner. In fact, you usually don’t get away with “quickly buying something” at this store. Minh Phuc will sit you down and chat about family, and life, and what makes it all worth it.
To him, that’s the only way. Because he wouldn’t much like a life in which he’s selling products. For him, it’s about connecting with other people. About putting all his emotion into everything, from creating something to servicing his customers.
A realization that anything can be a medium for spreading happiness
In a crowded and noisy cafe, sitting here and listening to him passionately talk about people and life stories, my hand unintentionally turns over the phone holder he had just gifts me. Almost unconsciously, I recognize the familiar bended shape we discussed throughout, as a symbol of a smile.
I never thought that a simple wooden item could bring a message of happiness in a gentle way like the nature it stems from. On some idle March day, perhaps I will also try to redo my own room. And don them with the little joys of curvy and happy shelves, but most of all, the memories of this conversation with possibly the most warm-hearted “businessman” I’ve ever met.
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