Monday, February 1, 2016

Origami Phi Long - A Canadian Story

Many of us at one time or another get an idea for some kind of home business or product to sell, but few of us actually take the time and effort to follow through with it. It is this entrepreneurial spirit however, that is a hallmark of working life here in Canada. Small business owners that sometimes turn into big business enterprises are part of the North American Dream and have resulted in some of the most beloved franchises in the country. Not everyone will come up with the next Tim Horton's or Canadian Tire of course, but many Canadians around the country supplement their incomes with successful home businesses. Hieu Le of Calgary is one of those people, and her creativity and passion are beginning to pay dividends.

Hieu Le came to Calgary in 2012 to join her husband who was already here in Calgary, working as a knife sharpener. It was when she began studying at the CIES SE location in Forest Lawn, more than two years later, when Hieu and her skill with origami first came to our attention, It all started when Hieu decided to make a couple of small gifts for friends. Being the creative type and a crafter at heart, she wanted to make something personalized just for them. She went to YouTube and looked for some ideas and that's where she found videos teaching the art of origami. Not only was she hooked, she excelled, soon making beautiful and incredibly detailed origami pieces. The response she got was so positive, she decided to try selling her creations online. And so, Phi Long Origami was born.

Hieu named her home business after her six year old son and it is the time she needs to spend at home to care for his special needs that indirectly contributed to Lieu's home business. Phi Long suffers from Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE). HIE  is essentially a brain dysfunction caused by a reduction in the supply of oxygen to the brain and other organs (hypoxia), compounded by low blood flow to vital organs (ischemia). Encephalopathy refers to any condition that results from reduced blood and oxygen supply to the brain. Since this is considered a brain injury, the time of the oxygen deprivation generally relates to the perinatal period, just before and just after delivery.

With mounting medical bills and more time at home necessary, Hieu focused on her home business. She started a Facebook Page, set up online purchases using, and even made a YouTube Channel. Slowly but surely. purchase orders rolled in. Not long after and entirely due to her true skill at making such remarkable creations, soon she had orders for birthdays, weddings and parties, at times having more than she can handle.

She has been successful enough that expansion would be a possibility, but Hieu has neither the time nor the seed money to go past where she currently sits. We need to get her in the Dragon's Den! In any regard, all of us here at CIES couldn't be prouder of Hieu. She is a living example of the effort and dedication that often come with an immigrant's arrival in Canada, a place where hard work and good ideas can truly make a difference. A simple yet profound concept that has made Canada a beacon of hope for people around the world for so long and why Hieu and Origami Phi Long, like so many that have come before it, is indeed a Canadian Story.

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