Young woman breathes new life into silun's food steamers

Updated: Oct 28, 2020 Women of China Print
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Young Woman Breathes New Life into Silun's Food Steamers

Shen Meijuan shows a bamboo food steamer produced by her company. She has been committed to promoting steamer-making products in Luoding city, south China's Guangdong province since 2013.

Silun, a town in Luoding, a city in south China's Guangdong province, is renowned for the production of bamboo food steamers. In 2017, the craft of creating handwoven food steamers was added to the list of Luoding's items of intangible cultural heritage. Since she returned to Silun, her hometown, to start her business in 2013, Shen Meijuan has put a lot of effort into promoting the time-honored craft, and into helping local residents attain wealth by creating food steamers.

Reviving traditional craft

The steamer-making craft has been handed down from generation to generation in Silun for more than 200 years.

Shen was born into a family of craftspeople in Yanglü, a village in Silun. Influenced by her parents and grandparents, she developed an interest in the craft (making food steamers) during her early childhood.

In 2013, when she returned home to visit her relatives, Shen discovered, given the amount of work, few young people (in Yanglü) were willing to learn the steamer-making craft. That inspired her to establish an enterprise, so she could do her bit to revive the steamer-making craft in her hometown.

In December 2015, Shen established Zhuzhisen Agricultural Technology Co., Ltd., in Silun, soon after she quit her well-paid job as a senior manager with an accounting firm in Guangzhou (capital of Guangdong province).

Given Shen and her employees' efforts to produce food steamers and other bamboo products, and to promote their products during the past few years, Zhuzhisen has evolved into an enterprise with a turnover that exceeds 10 million yuan ($1.43 million).

Shen Meijuan prepares bamboo raw materials for weaving food steamers.

Helping women increase incomes

Shen has experienced numerous difficulties and setbacks throughout the years. Despite the difficulties, Shen and her employees have carried on. Shen has been pleased by her and her employees' progress in running the business, as their products have won the recognition of numerous customers, both at home and abroad.

Shen during the past several years has put a lot of effort into inheriting and innovating steamer-making skills. Zhuzhisen's rapid development should be attributed, in part, to the efforts of Shen and her employees to promote, both online and offline, their products worldwide during the past several years.

Now, as many women (in Yanglü) work for Zhuzhisen (near their homes), they can take care of their parents and children. With the help of Shen's company, more than 80 local women have escaped poverty by creating food steamers.

Shen Meijuan and a local resident make bamboo food steamers.

Helping people understand beauty of traditional culture

Shen has put a lot of time and energy into expanding her business during the past several years. She is happy, as she has realized her potential as an entrepreneur. She also hopes she can help more people understand the beauty of bamboo-related Chinese culture, as her customers use the bamboo products created by her company. She also hopes craftspeople will integrate handweaving skills and AI (artificial intelligence) technologies to create more, and better, food steamers.

Given her outstanding achievements, Shen has received many awards and honorary titles throughout the years. For example, she has been named a leading e-commerce entrepreneur in Guangdong, and she has been named an outstanding woman entrepreneur in Guangdong.


Photos supplied by Guangdong Women's Federation

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