A passage through Asia leads San Jose State student to a soft launch

Aimi Duong and Pillows for Peace

Aimi Duong, 24 of San Jose,California, has launched Oimei Company, a socially conscious start up whose only bottom line that matters is empowering marginalized workers in developing countries.

Aimi was a business major and well into her studies at San Jose State when she realized that the primary objective of the business classes she was taking was to maximize profits and destroy the competition and this was in direct conflict to her objective to save the world.

To set herself apart from the thousands of other soon to be graduates, she decided to study abroad for four months, which turned into 16 months. While interning for a nonprofit in Thailand, her fascination with the handmade textiles she loved to buy at local markets in Burma, Malaysia and Laos became the inspiration for the company she wanted to form. 

But by that time she was running short on savings and her family back home was telling her to come back to reality.  Instead of listening, she found a website called StartSomeGood.com where she posted her idea and short video asking for support, hoping to raise seed money.  To her surprise, within 45 days, she raised $5,600.00 of which she used to go to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand to meet the women who would become her pillow manufacturers.  Most of the weavers are from Chiang Mai, Thailand and subsist on less than $200.00 a month.  It is Aimi’s hope that this will change.

When Duong returned to classes in San Jose, she began assembling a team of like-minded young women as partners in her business and started her website http://oimeico.com/shop/pillows.  Everything is certified fair trade and the weavers keep about 60 percent of what Duong pays for the pillows.    The company, which is called Oimei, means “love beauty” and operates under the banner “Pillows for Peace” and sells hand-woven textiles made in Thailand by women who are artisans creating remarkable treasures but barely able to scratch out a living doing their craft.

original article from MercuryNews.com


Photos copyright Aimi Duong

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