|Zhang Yiqiong (L) watches a woman working in her batik workshop.|
Zhang Yiqiong, a Miao woman in Sandu Shui Autonomous County (in Southwest China's Guizhou Province), has dedicated her life to developing and promoting the traditional batik craft. She has obtained a national patent for a new technology that prevents decolorization of batik works. Given the sound development of the business of her company, Guizhou Genlanmutu Miao Batik Development Co., Ltd., more than 5,000 local farmers have attained wealth by growing Indigowoad Root (used to dye cloth). During the past two decades, Zhang has promoted batik works, created by Miao women (in her hometown), globally, so the women can live better lives.
Returning Home to Start Business
When she was a little girl, Zhang began learning how to create batik items. After she graduated from junior-middle school (in 1998), Zhang left home to work in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou Province. Within a short time, she noticed batik works, created by the residents of Lianhe, her home village (in Sandu), were popular among Guiyang's residents. That inspired her to establish a batik plant in her hometown, to promote and develop the traditional craft.
Soon after she returned home, in 2001, Zhang set up a studio, in which she and several Miao women (in her village) created small embroidered batik items. Zhang made a special trip to Shanghai to promote the items. Within a month, she talked business with more than 30 textile mills (in Shanghai). Eventually, a textile company agreed to act as her distributor.
In 2012, Zhang established a batik plant in Chenguang, a village in Sandu. She employed many Miao women (in Chenguang and its neighboring villages) to work at the plant.
|Zhang introduces the traditional batik clothes.|
Through repeated experiments, Zhang has innovated the technology (of using Indigowoad Root) to dye cloth in less time. The even-colored cloth will not fade easily.
To meet people's aesthetic preferences, Zhang during the past few years has put a lot of effort into creating various batik items (including handbags, scarves, pillows and umbrellas) with modern, fashionable designs.
In 2015, Zhang "upgraded" her plant to Guizhou Genlanmutu Miao Batik Development Co., Ltd., and moved the workrooms to Miaolong, another village in Sandu. As she expanded her business, Zhang employed more women and elderly residents in her village.
|Zhang takes care of the Indigowoad Root.|
Working for Farmers' Well-being
Given the rapid development of her business, there has been an increasing need for Indigowoad Root (used to dye cloth). So far, Genlanmutu has hired farmers to grow a combined 26,700 mu (1,780 hectares) of Indigowoad Root. As a result, 5,460 local farmers have escaped poverty by growing the plant.
So far, Genlanmutu has obtained 13 Chinese patents for its techniques. Given the sound development of its business, the company has been able to employ more than 250 rural residents, among whom 90 percent have been women. As they work near their homes, many women can take care of their elders and children.
Given the company's remarkable achievements in both sales and technological development, experts and technicians from textile mills in other countries, including the United States, Japan and France, during the past few years have visited Genlanmutu, and they have learned about the technologies from the company's experts and technicians.
Zhang told Women of China about her "blueprint" to develop her business. "We will establish a multifunctional cultural base, in which visitors can learn how to create batik items from our employees, and create 'artworks' under the workers' guidance." Zhang also hopes her company will create more job opportunities for local rural women.
Photos by Zhang Jiamin
(Women of China English Monthly April 2020 issue)
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