Glass Packaging Innov-Talks
Customized Glass Bottles for Camellia Seed Oil: Turning Design into Reality
Interview with the Founder of Cha Tzu Tang
In this interview, Wood introduces the bottled Camellia Oil products launched by Cha Tzu Tang and discusses the challenges faced by Hwa Hsia Glass in manufacturing them. The design concept of Cha Tzu Tang's tea oil bottle emphasizes the combination of "naturally generated and human-crafted," aiming for organic lines and rich layers, presenting a bottle shape reminiscent of pebbles.
The challenges for Hwa Hsia Glass arise from the production process of unconventional glass bottles, which require considerations such as mold design, glass compatibility, and production efficiency. Ultimately, the key to collaboration lies in shared values and willingness, highlighting the importance of such cooperation for innovation and breakthroughs. Hwa Hsia Glass welcomes partnerships with new brands.
Furthermore, in this episode, Wood is invited to share Cha Tzu Tang's concept of "delivering the value of a beautiful life and the land," enabling the brand to transcend the concept of mere products and delve into the agricultural origins, extending their care towards people and the land. Through revitalizing communities, they aim to create a mutually beneficial place of sustainable development.
The following is the transcript of this episode, slightly edited for readability while striving to faithfully present the content of the interview.
Guest - Wood, Founder of Cha Tzu Tang (referred to as Wood)
Hosts - Glass Brothers Richard & Winston (referred to as GlassBro)
Cha Tzu Tang collaborated with Hwa Hsia Glass to launch a popular product, the “Taiwan Da Guo Camellia Oil ”. This product has received wide acclaim in the market and garnered high attention from consumers. Now, let's invite Wood to share with us the concept and ideas behind this highly sought-after product in the market.
Cha Tzu Tang - Design Concept of the Da Guo Camellia Oil Bottle
When designing the glass packaging for Cha Tzu Tang, we set a concept of "naturally generated and human-crafted." This means that we avoid using completely circular or symmetrical shapes since true perfect circles do not exist in nature. Even if they appear close to being circular, they differ from every angle.
Therefore, our first design approach is to pursue organic lines, starting from an organic perspective. Additionally, you'll notice that the bottle's sides present uneven curves, resembling natural sculpting with slight design elements added by humans, as it's not a completely regular shape.
During the design process, we also had concerns about making it too figurative, making it feel like packaging coffee to resemble coffee beans. Hence, we aimed for a packaging design with a rich and extensive sense of layers, akin to the feeling of "land."
Therefore, we see it as somewhat resembling pebbles, with many sharp edges when hidden deep in the mountains, gradually flowing towards the river mouth. When we hold it, the tactile sensation feels very comfortable, and then we added design elements from humans to give it a certain design texture. Hence, its design logic presents a natural feel while also carrying a sense of sculpted craftsmanship. That's why we call it "naturally generated and human-crafted."
Chazitang's large bottle of bitter tea oil features an asymmetrical round arc design. Hwa Hsia Glass, with its delicate century-old craftsmanship, perfectly captures the essence of the original design.
The feeling of nature combined with humans reminds me of the concept of "harmony between heaven and man." I think this idea is great because as human beings, we cannot disconnect from nature. We must return to nature in some way and coexist peacefully with the natural world.
The realm of harmony between heaven and man is indeed lofty. Simply put, we are still engaged in agriculture. The English word "agriculture" consists of two Latin words, "agri" meaning land and "culture" meaning human culture. Land represents nature, and culture represents humanity, while crafts and manufacturing belong to the realm of humans. Therefore, our ultimate consideration was how to integrate the contexts of land and culture together, especially on the land of Taiwan.
Cha Tzu Tang excels at closely integrating Taiwanese culture and the land into their products. After observing what Wood has been doing in recent years, including contract farming and the concept of agricultural revival in Nan'ao Township, I noticed that this brown bottle with a Taiwanese flavor had an opportunity to collaborate with Hwa Hsia Glass. What was the initial motivation behind this collaboration?
Considering the characteristics of Camellia Oil, including its storage requirements and delicate design, it posed a challenging task. Firstly, we wanted to find a glass bottle factory with the corresponding manufacturing capabilities. Since the production design of our Camellia Oil is not easy to achieve, large-scale glass bottle manufacturers may not be willing to invest resources in such a challenging product. Hwa Hsia Glass, as a glass container company with a century of manufacturing expertise, became a key factor in our decision to choose them.
For Hwa Hsia Glass, this glass packaging was indeed challenging because it is an irregular-shaped item, presenting significant challenges in terms of forming rate and yield. With accumulated manufacturing experience, Hwa Hsia has confidence that we had the opportunity to successfully tackle this challenge and enhance the technical skills of our personnel.
Glass materials have physical limitations, and when manufacturing irregular-shaped products in a high-speed automated production environment, considerations must be made from mold design, taking into account the angles and the physical compatibility of each part with glass.
For example, if the angles are too sharp or the overall weight distribution is uneven, serious efficiency issues may arise during mass production.
Initially, we also considered using handcrafted wax molds, as that would be the fastest method. However, considering the substantial order volume from Cha Tzu Tang, manual production would be too time-consuming.
Ultimately, the key to achieving this collaboration was alignment in values. Traditional glass factories typically assess whether a product is easy to manufacture, with cost as a key consideration.
The opportunity for both parties to collaborate lies not only in Hwa Hsia's ability to meet the manufacturing quality requirements but also in the willingness of both sides. This concept of collaboration is crucial. If we only focus on quantitative thinking without brand thinking, Taiwan will only have those commonly seen generic glass bottles and lack breakthroughs and innovations. Therefore, Hwa Hsia Glass warmly welcomes collaborations with new brands.
The development of Cha Tzu Tang in the past few years has been truly impressive. From my observation, whether it's tourist attractions or business venues across Taiwan, I often see the brand logo of Cha Tzu Tang. Last year, there was also a large selection market held at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, and I felt that the overall atmosphere was fantastic. The display of products and the integration with the land of Taiwan are aspects that Taiwanese brands can learn from. These efforts have allowed people to become more familiar with the unique things in this land of Taiwan.
Just like our cross-industry collaboration this time and the breakthroughs over the past two years, I believe this demonstrates Cha Tzu Tang's mindset for innovation and creative thinking. These breakthroughs and ideas showcase the uniqueness of your brand development. Going back to the roots and creating a path of collaborative development with the local community. Can you share these concepts with us?
Cha Tzu Tang has achieved significant breakthroughs by breaking free from the confines of traditional industries. In the early days, Cha Tzu Tang was positioned as a brand for bath and skincare products or camellia oil. Generally, the concept of industry development involves product sales and proprietary stores, and it may even expand to include larger categories such as having tourist factories and farms.
Cha Tzu Tang is now committed to community revitalization, which allows the brand to transcend limitations through cross-domain operations. We are not just about opening stores or engaging in sales through specific channels; instead, we go back to the source and ask ourselves, what kind of changes have we created together with the people involved?
Starting with agriculture, Cha Tzu Tang participates in community revitalization, promotes agricultural development, and establishes diverse ecosystems. We no longer limit our thinking to product sales alone. For example, this year we collaborated with the BulauBulau Aboriginal Village, Yilan, which has diversified the topics of Cha Tzu Tang. We treat not only products as topics but also consider community revitalization and agricultural development as significant issues.
Additionally, we collaborate with partners in the art industry, and the curatorial project mentioned last year was a successful collaboration as well. We hope that the presence of our brand goes beyond traditional retail spaces and manifests itself in various reports. In recent years, issues related to sustainable development and local revitalization frequently appear in our reports.
Initially, we focused mainly on camellia oil, and the path of revitalization involved the development of agriculture and the establishment of a complete ecosystem. This process requires a lot of effort because if we want to improve the quality of camellia oil, it's not enough to focus only on packaging; we must also lay a solid foundation in agriculture.
The success in revitalizing the Nanao and Zhaoyang communities is a testament to the overall transformation of these communities. How did the idea of revitalizing the community come about?
There wasn't any grand reason behind it. The opportunity for Cha Tzu Tang to collaborate with these communities in 2016 arose because there was a lot of idle land in those areas, and the local farmers were generally around 70 years old.
After we finished planting, the local village chiefs came to chat with us. They said we were young and full of ideas and asked if we had any thoughts on making the community more vibrant.
At that time, I saw two key points. Firstly, the community was facing an aging problem. As someone who grew up in Taipei, I was no stranger to the issue of aging. When I arrived in that area, I did see that the community was beautiful but lacked the presence of young people.
The second key point is the collaboration with these farmers. The cultivation of Camellia Oil plants takes five years from planting to harvesting. After five years, these farmers are already around 75 years old, and if they were to leave one day, there would be no one to take over their work.
Sustainable development has two aspects: one is the carbon reduction and circular economy that we are currently discussing, and the other is the revival of industries. Therefore, we entered this field at that time, viewing the community from a brand management perspective and thinking about what we could do.
In terms of cultural community, we made efforts to establish roots and introduce new elements to assist in overall beautification work, such as the renovation of restaurants and small shops. It took three years to beautify the entire fishing port park and even establish a personnel management system.
Did these plans and efforts attract more young people back to the community? Did it help the community achieve its sustainable development goals?
Wood: The return of young people is the final stage and ultimate goal. Before achieving this goal, we must go through the first two stages.
The first stage is to inject vitality into the community and make people feel the presence of hope. After we completed the construction of restaurants, small shops, and the park, many people passing through the area started dining at the Zhaoyang Fishing Port in Nan'ao, which also led to the hiring of many young people there. This brought life and vibrancy to the community.
The second stage is to develop the community's livelihood industries, which is a prerequisite for entering the third stage. Because the second generation in the community is already in their fifties, the third generation will only be willing to return when the livelihood industries are developed.
The younger generation wants to engage in businesses related to livelihood industries or participate in the livelihood industry chain. Only then can they come back to the community and participate in local revitalization. Otherwise, they will have nothing to do if they return. We can't just ask them to work in restaurants, right? Or only open restaurants forever. However, if the community has coffee shops, accommodations, and other entertainment facilities such as homestays, people will gradually realize the potential of the tourism industry and participate in it.
Building a revitalized community takes time, not only for the development itself but also for the community to gradually evolve. From a business perspective, this concept is reasonable. However, why is the idea of revitalizing communities not commonly seen among Taiwanese brands? The only example that comes to mind is TSMC, as they successfully revitalized the Baoshan area in Hsinchu, but it leans more towards commercialization, which is different from Wood's concept.
The goal of Cha Tzu Tang is to inject the vitality of young people into the community and establish a livelihood industry chain. Could Wood further explain the importance of forming these livelihood industry chains for the community? How does this organic approach attract more young people to join the community? In your opinion, what kind of activities should a revitalized community have to appeal to young people?
There are five key factors for success. Firstly, we need to start with the local DNA and identify the unique characteristics that make it attractive. This is the most crucial point. We need to thoroughly examine the local DNA's strengths and features while considering its future vision. That's the core focus.
Secondly, business development is not the primary and most essential factor in local development. Many other aspects need to be developed. Taking the Zhaoyang community as an example, they need to focus on educational development. Due to high mobility, students may transfer to junior high schools in Yilan's Luodong or Su'ao Town after graduating from elementary school.
If we can't address the educational issues here, people will still leave even if we undertake other developments. So, they need to explore many areas of development, such as the education sector. We may need to collaborate with several educational institutions, such as Za Share, etc.
Furthermore, when we enter a community, we must plan the visual signage system for the entire landscape at once. In Taiwan, many places lack holistic planning beyond the old streets, resulting in a fragmented and disjointed appearance. Therefore, holistic planning is also crucial.
Additionally, sustainable development is a fascinating topic for residents. For example, we are considering assisting them in building solar energy systems. In addition to providing them with benefits, we plan to donate the solar energy proceeds to the Community Development Association, hoping to encourage more people to install solar energy. Our oil mill, estate, or other businesses will also purchase green energy, further promoting sustainable development. This is a multi-faceted issue that needs to be considered.
It's not easy to venture into the field of local revitalization. You have already learned, experimented, and executed the entire project.
Wood: After the end of 2016, we spent two years learning and visiting the Netherlands, exploring various interesting circular concepts and thought patterns. We also traveled to Japan to visit some major art festivals and gained deeper insights into issues related to circular curation and education. Finally, in 2018, we launched the Zhaoyang community revitalization project.
Challenges and decision-making in local revitalization
One of the biggest challenges is how to learn quickly when entering a new field. Just like a leader in a company, if your decisions frequently encounter problems, it can be frustrating. Embarrassingly, we only truly started developing agriculture in 2015, and I only had two years of learning experience when we suddenly immersed ourselves in local revitalization. We needed to understand the education field and deal with personnel issues. You can imagine how tough it is to learn so much each year.
The most difficult part is finding the right talent and who should be responsible for these tasks. As you are already familiar with running the glass industry, you probably know how to organize and choose the right talent for different roles.
However, local revitalization is different. Even if you find excellent talent, they may be placed in the wrong position, or you may assume they can solve specific issues. Although they are exceptional, we may not know how to leverage their skills or properly assign their roles. This process is extremely challenging and demanding.
It's like suddenly asking you to work in agriculture now. You would wonder what kind of talent to look for and might have to rely on recommendations from others. However, even after seeking advice, how would that talent fit into the company culture and our organization? Their interaction within the organization could be awkward, so where should they be placed? It's truly a difficult task. In other words, if you were to switch from the glass industry to agriculture or even the paper industry now, I believe it would be considered a cross-industry transition, entering a completely unfamiliar field.
In previous episodes, we mentioned that cross-domain learning involves costs and exploration time. We emphasized not being afraid of making mistakes because they are inevitable, but learning from those mistakes is invaluable. Over the past few years, your schedule has been very tight, and we understand that you have another revitalization project. Does it have any similarities to your previous project?
Many places approached us for participation in local revitalization, and I emphasized that local revitalization is a continuous ten-year process that requires a passionate and dedicated team.
I participated in the challenging work of local revitalization in the Zhaoyang community in Nan'ao, Yilan. Local revitalization needs to be carried out by people who have a love for that land, preferably young individuals or those who have a passion for the area and want to make a difference. Their involvement will yield more effective results. We don't want outside teams to come in because it's not just a matter of resources. Even if there are abundant resources, it might be only a temporary boost.
The structural issues I mentioned earlier, such as education, require time to resolve and cannot be accomplished in three to five years. Therefore, we consider Nan'ao as one of the important practical implementations of our concepts. For places like estates in other countries, such as olive oil estates in Italy, they can often make a place beautiful, and healthy, and improve the land. However, our current goal is to expand the use of agricultural raw materials.
I believe local revitalization is a crucial issue, especially after hearing Little Wood's insights. We had some brief exchanges before, and Little Wood mentioned that he has started working on a bigger project, but I'm not clear on the specific details. Could you please share your plans with us, such as the goals you intend to achieve, including your process from downstream to upstream in terms of branding?
We currently have a special project, the Camellia Oil Estate project in the Zhaoyang area. Traditional estates often require vast areas of land for large-scale tea cultivation, such as an entire mountain or the entire Pinglin area being tea estates. However, considering the reality in Taiwan, I believe we should adopt a new approach.
Such an estate needs to have certain basic facilities, such as an oil mill, sales center, restaurant, small shops, and tour facilities, and even provide accommodation for visitors. If we focus solely on the core aspects and let the community handle other affairs, inviting visitors to consume here, would it be able to drive the development of the entire area? This idea is good; it's a symbiotic concept where we pursue common interests and development. This kind of agri-community model is becoming increasingly popular in Europe and America.
The agri-community combines agricultural enterprises with beautiful countryside communities, and everyone works together. For example, we opened a restaurant for the community, which increased their turnover two or three times, and the food was delicious. This way, we don't need to manage the restaurant ourselves. We can reduce the investment scale and narrow the management scope, but it benefits the community greatly. They will also support us, and we can achieve symbiosis, creating a positive cycle.
Returning to the concept I mentioned earlier, how can local revitalization make the entire region vibrant? With more and more people flowing in and consuming in the vicinity, although we may not earn huge profits like traditional large estates, it's not a problem. Our investment doesn't need to be that massive, and the entire ecosystem will be interconnected. This is the plan we are looking forward to, where even small and medium-sized enterprises can realize things that don't require large-scale investments through their concepts.
Wood's approach not only creates more value in this place but also drives a positive cycle throughout the entire region. It's not just about Cha Tzu Tang itself being great, but the combination of the place and Cha Tzu Tang gradually optimizing this land, making the whole area very appealing.
We feel extremely happy in this place. The local village chief, the chairman of the urban development association, and our neighbors, they all take good care of us and provide us with a lot of encouragement. It's a wonderful feeling, a sense of happiness that cannot be measured in terms of money.
It's a feeling that emerges from within, like when you have a sense of purpose in the work you do. When you see the village chief and the local elders smiling at you, it's a unique feeling, a sense of security, you know?
Because I'm not originally from Nan'ao, when I went there for development, having the support and encouragement from the locals, such as the village chief's wife and others, even before opening the restaurant, they asked me, "Hey, General Zhao, you've been doing so much for us, have you ever thought about doing some business or other things here?" That feeling was different.
Because in many rural areas, they might be worried that your arrival will take away their rights or resources, but we received encouragement. So now, when we do things, we have the support of the locals. They see you as one of them, right? In rural areas, there might be a sense of exclusion towards outsiders because they don't know them, so they reject them. It's based on fear, fear that outsiders might take away resources, damage the environment, or disrupt their way of life. However, you have made their lives better in the past.
I think this concept is worth sharing with the audience. So what I want to say today is that the meaning of building a brand is not just about the product itself; you can see a brand as a person. Because warmth comes from the interaction between people, not just commercial exchanges. This kind of interaction is more powerful and influential. Why? Because it drives not only business opportunities but also the development of the entire community and population, forming an ecosystem.
People often ask me, what exactly is Cha Tzu Tang? Is it a brand? I tell them that Cha Tzu Tang if we look at it purely from the perspective of selling products, we sell Camellia oil. But in reality, what we sell is the beautiful vision and imagination behind it. As I mentioned earlier, I rarely talk solely about the product itself, but people immediately feel a positive connection and trust towards this brand. If they encounter our professional explanations in Nan'ao, they will be able to understand our value from the product to the brand, and even our ideas and level of trust. At that point, people no longer compare solely based on price; they feel that this brand's actions are meaningful and they trust us more. They are also more willing to support this brand.
I think this is a very special situation, and in a few years, the entire development process of Nan'ao can become an inspiring business case that is suitable for use in business courses. I believe it can become a teaching material that inspires and helps local growth. It's a process of collaboration and growth that everyone participates in, which is very interesting. Finally, I would like to ask you to share with everyone your future dreams or ideas for the Cha Tzu Tang brand. What kind of presence do you hope it becomes? What are your views?
Cha Tzu Tang has always had a brand positioning that we call the "Good Life Brand that Delivers the Beauty of the Land." I hope this brand can become a bridge that allows more urban residents to experience the beauty of the land. Through our efforts, more people will be willing to contribute to this land of Taiwan. I firmly believe that Taiwan's land is beautiful, and it just needs more people willing to invest and showcase its beauty. For us, doing business is just one key point in the cycle. Therefore, our future vision is to let more people understand the beauty of Taiwan's land through tea estates or other cooperative models.
In the future, we also hope to collaborate with other cities abroad through a sister estate model. That's the true way to deliver the beauty of the land. Therefore, what we export is not just products but the entire concept of the store or estate collaboration. Through this approach, we can spread the beauty and let more people understand it.
If you only see Cha Tzu Tang's products on a shelf somewhere, you may think its packaging is special and useful, but you won't feel that special emotional connection. That's why our positioning is very clear.
In the future, we want to deliver the beauty of the land through this positioning. This approach is very innovative and unique. In the past, our positioning was as a natural bath and body care expert, then it changed to being Taiwan's top Camellia oil expert, but we felt that such positioning was somewhat narrow and couldn't truly convey what we wanted to convey, which is the beauty of the land. Therefore, last year, we made the true positioning, which is the "Good Life Brand that Delivers the Beauty of the Land."
I think this concept is fantastic because you have expanded the brand's vision and sense of purpose from a relatively fixed and narrow scope to a broader vision, a larger design principle. This transformation is the most inspiring and fascinating part that I heard today.
Cha Tzu Tang represents a brand that embodies the values of delivering a good life and the beauty of the land. When you step into Cha Tzu Tang, you can feel the beauty of the local community and the world. In today's show, I'm very happy to have the opportunity to invite Cha Tzu Tang's founder, Wood, to join GlassBrother and share with us.
Thank you all for tuning in. See you next time!