Traditional shoes step into international arena

Updated: 2014-11-12 10:12

By Clare Buchanan(China Daily)

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Traditional shoes step into international arena

Guo Li (center) and her employees use traditional techniques and materials to make embroidered shoes. [Photo by Sanka Vidanagama/China Daily]

A passionate craftswoman turned her family's tradition of making embroidered shoes into an international business.

As a girl Guo Li, from Da'an county in Jilin, learnt how to create shoes from natural materials, a craft passed down from her great-grandmother. In 2000 she turned the craft into a business and founded Ziyumulan Co, whose employees include factory craftsmen and farmers who work from home using traditional techniques and materials.

The firm exports shoes to more than 30 regions including the United States, Russia and Singapore, and last year its exports totaled $1.5million.

"At the time I just wanted to keep this traditional craft alive and wanted it to be industrialized. I didn't expect it to get this big," Guo said.

The entrepreneur hopes to open five shops in China and boutique counters in overseas malls by 2015.

"This is a family business. Most people in this area just do this at home but I'm really interested in developing cultural heritage," she said.