return icon

Foreign woman loves Ao Dai, brings Vietnamese silk to the world

Born and raised in Europe but Liisi has a special passion for Vietnamese Ao Dai (traditional gown) and Vietnamese silk products.


Người phụ nữ ngoại quốc mê áo dài, đưa lụa Việt Nam ra thế giới

Liisi next to silk garments from her own brand.


Business started from the love for Ao Dai

Liisi Mari (born 1990) was born and raised in Estonia. Liisi's family had been painters for three generations, so she inherited some of that talent.

Living in the cradle of art, since childhood Liisi has always been immersed in paintbrushes and canvases. Her favorite technique is drawing on silk.

Later, Liisi graduated from the University of Arts in Estonia and went to Hong Kong (China) to study. Here, she met the man of her dreams and got married to a Vietnamese.

“When we first met, I often shared with my husband Ngoc my hobbies. He said Vietnam is a famous country for its silk. We talked about a lot of things but I was really fascinated when he had the same aspirations,” Liisi said.

When she was introduced to Ngoc’s family, his mother brought her to a tailor to make an Ao Dai as a gift.

The first time she held the Ao Dai in her hands, Liisi felt a strange sensation. In Liisi's head, the image of paint brushes dancing on her shirt appeared. Just like that, she was infatuated with Ao Dai in all its magnificence.

Since then, Liisi has spent most of her time studying silk and Ao Dai.

Người phụ nữ ngoại quốc mê áo dài, đưa lụa Việt Nam ra thế giới

The young Estonian woman decided to choose silk to start a business thanks to her love of the Vietnamese Ao Dai.


In 2018, she got married and moved to Vietnam to live with her husband. In addition to painting, Liisi occasionally does modeling work.

Liisi is so “addicted” to Ao Dai that she wears them whenever a special occasion comes up, whether it is Tet or a wedding or party.

“Ao Dai contains the essence of national identity. I feel confident wearing them,” Liisi said.

Liisi saw that Vietnamese silk had a lot of potential so she started a business in her husband's hometown with her own silk brand.

Liisi's husband was then working for a company with a monthly salary of thousands of dollars, but decided to quit his job to cooperate with his wife on the business.

“My husband studied business administration, but I was inclined to art. We have different personalities but have the same orientation and support each other in our work,” said Liisi.

According to Liisi, silk is a great material for painting. The natural softness of the silk fibers helps the colors to spread and blend together into attractive new colors.

“My products contain my love and passion for silk. The motifs on the Ao Dai are all hand drawn by me so each set is unique, nothing is mass produced,” Liisi said.

Người phụ nữ ngoại quốc mê áo dài, đưa lụa Việt Nam ra thế giới
In the contest "Charming Ao Dai 2019", Liisi won 4th place with the Ao Dai she designed.

In addition to the Ao Dai, Liisi also developed a hand-painted silk scarf and silk pillows. Just like the Ao Dai, there is only one version for each piece.

In addition to the products drawn by Liisi, the couple also organizes sessions for customers who want to hand-draw the motifs of their scarf or Ao Dai at the sewing factory.

"Painting on silk is an artistic activity that helps people find relaxation, tranquility, stress relief as well as training persistence and creativity," Liisi said. 

Bringing Vietnamese silk to the world

Người phụ nữ ngoại quốc mê áo dài, đưa lụa Việt Nam ra thế giới
Drawing on canvas class for children.

The Estonian woman added that, although the business is stable, the couple's silk brand has not officially had a store, but only accepts orders via online form. 

In order for customers to choose easily, couple are using a smart fashion app with a "Try-on" feature - allowing buyers to try on clothes and accessories on models virtually. 

After being welcomed by the Vietnamese market, the couple brought "made in Vietnam" products to other countries. However, the distribution stops at retail activities. 

According to Liisi, customers in Finland, Estonia, Germany, the US, and China find Vietnamese silk products through the couple's sales page.

Người phụ nữ ngoại quốc mê áo dài, đưa lụa Việt Nam ra thế giới
A phoenix silk scarf hand drawn by Liisi.

Mr. Tran Ngoc, Liisi's husband, said that in 2020, the couple intends to export through a large distribution channel, but due to the epidemic, it has been postponed. Currently, this plan has just been restarted. He will focus on exporting to Estonia and Germany.

“Because of limited capital and the lack of conditions to invest in large factories, my wife and I have developed the model of linking, sewing scarves and silk robes with traditional craft villages.

For standard product line, we order outsourcing. High-end line, exclusive design, we bring them to a small self-production workshop. However, the source of silk fabric must always ensure the standards of Vietnam. Because the foreign market is quite careful," Mr. Ngoc said.

Người phụ nữ ngoại quốc mê áo dài, đưa lụa Việt Nam ra thế giới
Liisi inside the canvas studio.

Mr. Ngoc shared that the couple started a business entirely with their own capital and did not seek funds from others.

The brand name this may not be widely developed but the production is there. The quantity of goods is not high but he believes this is a sustainable way to go.

At the beginning, Ngoc and his wife also faced many difficulties in finding markets and approaching customers.

With business knowledge and brand development acquired for many years, Ngoc and his wife promote themselves through social networks. At the same time, the couple brings their products to travel fairs, world consumer fairs, and art shows.

“Silk is woven from insect silk. From this material, we can create many different fabrics, shiny like satin, rough like linen and burlap, hard like organza ... ", the owner added.

Người phụ nữ ngoại quốc mê áo dài, đưa lụa Việt Nam ra thế giới
Liisi and her husband introduce the silk brand to the world to promote Vietnamese culture.

People often consider silk as a glossy fabric, loose and not for the young, but this material can be used for all ages, different in color and design.

Liisi said the developing the silk brand is not simply a business. The main purpose is to promote Vietnamese traditional culture, and elevate products to art.

“My husband and I are determined to move around and live in both countries - Vietnam and Estonia. So, everyone has the opportunity to be close to their family. In the future, I plan to open a representative office in Estonia. My mother also likes Vietnamese silk products,” said Liisi.

Thai Minh

Foreigners who choose Vietnam as their second home

Foreigners who choose Vietnam as their second home

While many Vietnamese find their way to developed countries to make a living, many European and American businesspeople consider Vietnam, particularly Da Lat, a good land. 



Vietnam contributes to International Law Commission

Vietnamese Ambassador Nguyen Hong Thao has pledged to make more contributions to the progress and development of international law, for peace, friendship, cooperation and sustainable development worldwide.

Pencak silat fighter enjoys golden year

Pencak silat fighter Quang Thi Thu Nghia has had amazing year of competition when she has won titles from all competitions that she took part in.

Pop singer to compete at MTV Europe Music Awards

Pop singer Pham Dinh Thai Ngan from HCM City will represent Vietnam at the MTV Europe Music Awards (MTV EMA) 2022.

PM hosts national committee on digital transformation’s third session

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh chaired the third meeting of the National Committee on Digital Transformation on August 8 to assess digital transformation pace during the first half of 2022 and devise tasks for the time ahead.

Liem to face off against chess king Carlsen at FTX Crypto Cup

Vietnam’s leading chess player Le Quang Liem has revealed that he will take on Norwegian chess king Magnus Carlsen at the FTX Crypto Cup which is scheduled to take place in Miami, USA, from August 15 to August 21.

Vietnam ranks third overall at ASEAN Para Games 2022

Vietnamese athletes bagged seven more gold medals on August 5, the last competition day of the ASEAN Para Games 2022, retaining their third place in the medal tally.

Corporate bond market struggling with challenges

The size of the corporate bond market is estimated at some VND1,374 trillion, equivalent to 15% of GDP. The Government aims to raise this figure to 20% by 2025.

President requires greater efforts to promote value of Ngoc Linh ginseng

Ngoc Linh ginseng deserves the "National treasure" title, and it is necessary to strongly promote the role of this treasure in improving people's livelihoods, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc said .

EVFTA outpaces CPTPP in preference utilisation rate

The utilisation rate of tax incentives set out in the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) during Q1 soared by over 32%, representing a four-fold rise compared to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Refusal to issue visas to new VN passport causes problems for travel firms

The rejection of Vietnam’s new passport by some EU member countries is affecting HCM City tourism companies since their customers are unable to travel to those countries.

Vietnam set to scrap COVID quarantine for imported processed seafood

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has removed COVID-related quarantine requirements for frozen processed seafood products imported for the purpose of reprocessing for export.

HCM City seeks to boost technology transfer from universities

Huynh Kim Tuoc, managing director of Sai Gon Innovation Hub's (SiHub) Start-up Support Centre under the HCM City Department of Science and Technology, affirmed Vietnam holds tremendous potential for technology development

Vigilance urged against COVID-19 amid emergence of new epidemics

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh asked ministries, agencies and localities to maintain vigilance against COVID-19 while addressing a meeting in Hanoi on Saturday.

Vietnamese, British agencies coordinate in identifying fire victims

The Consular Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK will continue to coordinate with Vietnamese and British agencies to identify victims in a blaze in Greater Manchester on May 7.

Photo contest highlighting beauty of Vietnamese islands kicks off

Professional and amateur photographers across Vietnam are encouraged to compete in a photo contest highlighting the beauty of Vietnamese Hoang Sa and Truong Sa islands.