“XiaoFang” – A “Wool Utopia” Weaved Together with Mother

From small town of China, to the developed nations of Europe, now known as a symbol of tradition, from a need to a fashion, this is a story about travel of green hat.

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“XiaoFang” is a rising brand founded in 2015. Different from other fashion brand, “XiaoFang” is specializing in making of hand-made woolen caps especially by mid-age rural Chinese women. These women are not well educated or experienced in fashion, but designer Hu Yinping saw it in different ways.

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The team of weavers of XiaoFang

Hu Yinping found her mother was making traditional woolen hats made to support the family at really low prices. The hat was mostly sold to local old-age aunts and mothers in her hometown in Sichuan, China. As a well-educated designer, Yinping didn’t want to see the efforts of her mom sold under-priced, so decided to introduce those hats to the market of Beijing city. She starts purchasing hats from her mother to support her financially. As she knows that her mother is very independent and would not take money from her, she pretended that one of her friends was interested in purchasing these hats. She initially introduced the caps in Beijing and found very positive feedback from the customer side. That feedback encouraged Hu Yinping to increase production and made a brand of that hats. She started a brand with the name XiaoFang. She didn’t tell her mother that she was selling her hats and operated the hat business secretly for 4 years.

In 2019, with the growth of the business, Yinping told her mother the truth about XiaoFang and recruited more middle-aged women from the village to help them and their families as well. A woolen hat is not a simple product, but also an initiative of an icon that is a part of the tradition of Yinping’s hometown.  With this project, the artist with all the crafters could spread the beauty of their tradition as well as do business with it.

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Hats of XiaoFang

Hu Yinping’s Mother was an old lady and not familiar too much with technology like smartphones and other electronic gadgets. After the startup of the business by her daughter, she started receiving orders directly from the market. Yinping helped her mother to get her first smartphone and created her WeChat account. Yinping selected WeChat since it is the most used social media APP in China with powerful functionalities including chatting, payment, content sharing, etc. Since Yinping’s mother cannot read or write, Yinping asked her friend to communicate with her mom through voice messaging for any new order.

Yinping shared her story on the public account of XiaoFang to inspire more people. The story was in trend and seen by thousands of people. People are crazy about the brand. By purchasing these special hand-made products for their loved ones, they could be part of the community to spread the beauty of tradition, and also support the rural women.

Xiaofang made a cool decision!

XiaoFang A 22Wool Utopia 4In the beginning, Yinping offer hats only in green color to protect the eyesights of her mother and aunts in the village, but later on, Yinping decided to offer Hats in different shapes and in different colors to attract more customers and meet their various needs. This change got lots of positive feedback from the customers, and Yinping was able to raise more funds for these women.  To expand the business globally, Hu Yinping decided to introduce XiaoFang to more people from other countries. She donated pink hats to the American public welfare organization for the protest against government policies where the theme color was pink.

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The green hats of Xiaofang also flew to Ireland on St Patrick’s Day (Green Hats Festival). They distributed the hats to the people for free who participated in the parade. By this, the hats of the aunts flow in the sea of green hats. This is a way the hats of aunts belonging to a small town in China showed their presence and power in Europe.

This influence is mutual. Because she wanted to contact Xiaofang, Hu Yinping’s mother learned to use a smartphone, registered on WeChat, and had her own account. At first, when she sent and received couriers, she wrote her husband’s name because he had a job and everyone in the town knew him. But later, she would write her own name.

Big customers came to the town, and the aunts in other towns also changed from illiterate weavers who couldn’t use smartphones to fashionable digital netizens. Voice and video calls through WeChat make communication barrier-free, and they even utilize WeChat payment to receive order and collect money. Their connection with the world gradually widens.

In these weaving works, the aunts of the small town expressed their own values, their own life experience, and their own pain. This is the humor of a group of elderly Chinese rural women, which contains women’s life experiences and imaginations.

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