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The “Zen” Workshop – Finding Beauty in the Rubble

Eloise Sims 2019-02-13 102
Min Tzu, curator of Guangfu Village’s famous “Zen Workshop” art studio, always wanted to own her own business. Having worked as a landscape designer for several years, she knew she had the skill to run a successful art studio. But the high cost of renting in Taiwan had always prevented her from following her dream.
 
“It was just too expensive for me to successfully run such a business.” She says. “So, when I found out about the Catch A Star Project in Guangfu Village, I was so excited! It would be way easier for me to open a business here, and I lived close by.”
 
Min Tzu’s application to join Guangfu Village was approved in March 2018. Unlike other successful applicants, Min asked the judges if she could have one property in particular – producing a spectacular fold-out design proposal to accompany her application.
 
“Originally, this property was filled with stray dogs, and the former tenant hadn’t cleaned it at all.” She explained. “The windows were boarded up, and the garden was really dirty. But I saw its potential and knew I could design and landscape everything – so I asked the judge for that house.”
 
Her request was granted. Today, the “Zen Workshop” is a peaceful retreat in the heart of Guangfu Village – where Tzu sells calligraphy, handmade tea holders, vases, furniture, and more.
 
Everything in the shop has been handmade (with love) by Tzu, right down to the shelves her art is displayed on – which are made from old wooden dumpling cookers.
 
“My favorite thing to make is my calligraphy postcards.” She says, showing me a selection of beautiful cards that she made with banana fiber paper. “They’re one of the first things I ever made. I think modern people don’t write as much as they did in ancient times – and writing has a certain warmth to it. So, I really love making these.”
 
Tzu encourages all young entrepreneurs thinking of starting their own business to research the Catch Star Project.
 
“When you open your own business outside of the Guangfu Village, you’re on your own.” She explains. “But when you open your business here, you have new friends, and government support – so it’s so much easier. You can buy things in bulk together and collaborate on projects.”
 
“In the Village, we always encourage one another towards our business goals – and we can collaborate on projects together. I’ve met so many people through joining the Village, and it’s given me the confidence to go out into the real world and run my own business sustainably once I leave.”
 
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