"Many people compared A-yuan Soap with international brands such as Lush and said our products can definitely sell because of their strong localized flavors and exoticism. But what I am concern about is not profits but the land and its people," said Chiang, who chooses to plough money into training his staff made up of local old folk, middle-aged housewives and the mentally handicapped rather than flashy ad campaigns and marketing.
Moving to Chinshan to participate in local affairs and understand what the villagers need, Chiang envisions A-yuan Soap not merely as an enterprise but a community development project that helps locals better their lives with a profitable handicraft that can be passed down from generation to generation.
"Before I was concerned only for my own well being and my life was empty. Now my responsibility is for the whole community and I have to think of others and take care of my staff as my own family. And guess what? I have never been happier," said Chiang.
The son of a blue-collar family from the Linkou (林口) countryside, Chiang has an inherent affinity to human labor and his next undertaking is to re-awaken people's recognition on the value and aesthetics of labor and handiworks with the establishment of what he dubs the "ecological factory," a botanic garden-cum-manufactory where the public can gain first-hand appreciation of nature's gifts and the beauty of manual labor.
"We will soon start looking for land for our ecological factory. It will be shared with all those people making honest and healthy goods despite financial difficulties and lack of distribution channels. We have met so many of them along the way and believe a difference will be made if we can share resources and work in a cooperative manner," said the idealistic entrepreneur.
For those interested in A-yuan's handmade products, enquire at local organic stores or visit www.taiwansoap.com.tw. For each online purchase, A-yuan will donate three percent of the total purchase to charity groups such as the Genesis Social Welfare Foundation (創世基金會) and the Garden of Hope Foundation (勵馨社會福利基金會).