One of the most expensive natural raw materials in the world, agarwood is in high demand for use in perfumes, traditional medicines, carvings and jewelry-making. Collecting the fragrant, resinous heartwood of Aquilaria trees is a skill and a craft, one that has been passed down generations at Thuy Xuan village near Hue, Vietnam. Local agarwood collectors spend months in the dense forests of Quang Nam, Quang Binh and along the Lao border searching for and harvesting the naturally occurring resin.
In the 1980s, when the industry was still in its infancy in Vietnam, Thien Moc Huong became one of the first companies that started trading in this rare and precious commodity. Today, four decades later, Thien Moc Huong is a familiar name among its many loyal customers who keep coming back for the brand’s first-grade agarwood jewelry and incense. To learn more about the company’s mission and journey, we visit Thien Moc Huong’s showroom in Saigon’s District 1.
Arriving hot and bothered in the sweltering summer sun, we were instantly calmed by the pleasing fragrance filling the spacious and modern store. Around us, row upon row of agarwood-made products vie for our attention: from traditional rosaries to trendy gemstone bracelets.
Mr. Ngoc Tran, our guide, is the third generation to run Thien Moc Huong. Sitting down with Mr. Ngoc, we asked him about the enduring popularity of Vietnamese agarwood, the people who have dedicated their lives to bringing it to the farthest corners of the world and about Thien Moc Huong’s journey to success.
Can you share about the earlier days of Thien Moc Huong?
When we first started, the company mainly traded with the wholesales from China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. Whereas in Vietnam, there were only a handful of customers with a deep understanding of the product.
As the market matured and demand increased, Thien Moc Huong gradually expanded its production base and started working with skilled artisans throughout Vietnam's south central region in provinces such as Quang Binh, Khanh Hoa and Quang Nam. The company celebrated another milestone in 2005 when Thien Moc Huong opened a workshop in Saigon, laying the foundation for the next wave of expansion. Thanks in part to that strategic decision, even in the face of today’s rapid economic development and modernization, Thien Moc Huong maintains its edge.
What are the values that Thien Moc Huong treasure most?
In the company’s four decades of operation, the core values have always remained the same:
- Reputation: Commitment to delivering what was guaranteed with customers.
- Creativity: Constantly innovating to remain a trend-setter in agarwood jewelry.
- Dedication: Dedication to customers, our work and the products.
What makes agarwood and agarwood products so precious?
One way to look at it is through the prism of feng shui — how incorporating agarwood into our daily lives brings us closer to the natural world.
Agarwood is a natural material available only in a number of Southeast Asian countries like Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia, but it’s agarwood harvested in Vietnam that’s graded the highest. Because the process of sap-forming is completely natural, it takes between 30 and 40 years for enough resinous wood to be produced to make one agarwood bracelet.
In other words, because every agarwood product captures all essence of the earth, wearing such an accessory is like carrying with you the most refined tapestry of life. The slight scent of agarwood soothes your mind while improving your sleep cycle and mental health, which in turn can give your work efficiency a boost.
Another unique quality of agarwood (and one that many of its fans find particularly charming) is the elegant scent it emits when coming in contact with the skin. Many find comfort from the scent brought upon lighting agarwood incense. As essential oil its aroma is even more pronounced and less volatile, hence its common use as base notes in luxury perfumes.
Finally, there is the fashion attribution. In the past, carvings made of agarwood were mainly used as decoratives and were not yet versatile. When agarwood bracelet was first launched in the market, it really helped the fragrant wood find a new audience. And Thien Moc Huong is credited with creating the modern aesthetic by incorporating gold, silver and gemstones into the designs. But remains unchanged is the hallmark of chocolate-brown shade – smooth and warm to the touch – making agarwood an elegant and classy accessory.
What is the secret behind Thien Moc Huong’s longevity in the market?
In today's diverse agarwood market, for a brand to really stand out requires a continuous focus on product improvement. At Thien Moc Huong we tirelessly push ourselves creatively, and if you look at our signature bracelet, you will see in its design the perfect harmonization of the traditional and the modern, making it very appealing to customers of all ages.
Another secret to the brand’s enduring success is our ability to preserve the spiritual qualities of the wood ensuring that our customers feel that connection with the natural world. And of course the fact that with us, customer experience doesn't end at the moment of purchase. We take pride in offering product care services, such as wire replacement and bead polishing, on both store-bought and third-party agarwood products.
What difficulties are Thien Moc Huong facing as the company expands?
With a large and diverse customer base, the biggest problem we have at the moment is how to ensure online shoppers have the same experience as customers who come to our showrooms. We have 80,000 customers in our database, from over 20 countries. But physical store experience is only available to customers in Vietnam makes after-sales service a challenge. For online shoppers, the experience is somewhat incomplete.
When shipping international orders, we of course take utmost care to ensure the appropriate package is chosen so that the product arrives intact. We also include spare strings and beads to make it easier for customers to make latter repairs, if needed. With our easy-to-follow online tutorials, they can even do all repairs at home.
How did Thien Moc Huong achieve international recognition?
Even in the early days, Vietnamese agarwood was held in high acclaim. So when Thien Moc Huong started trading globally, the product’s reputation spoke for itself. We quickly realized that for our international customers, agarwood products are the perfect souvenir from Vietnam, while for domestic customers, agarwood’s value lies in its feng shui attributions.
Alongside maintaining the “made in Vietnam” value, the brand has built relationships with business partners and customers in over 20 countries on five continents, from Singapore and Australia to Canada and the USA.
In the past five years, the brand's strategy has been to explore new sales channels to reach more international clients. At the same time, we are focused on growing our Partnership & Co-Operation Program through which we seek new partnership opportunities nationally and abroad, helping Thien Moc Huong to advance further in the international market.
After 40 years in business, what are some of the most memorable milestones?
Like any other company in pursuit of big dreams, over the past 40 years Thien Moc Huong has had its ups and downs. We have overcomed challenges and celebrated our success. One of our biggest achievements is that after launching in 1980 and building it over the next 35 years, we grew from a humble workshop in the central of Vietnam to a nation-wide company, with two showrooms (in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi) and more than 10 agents in the provinces and points of sale at international airports.
For two consecutive years, in 2017 and 2018, Thien Moc Huong was the only Vietnamese incense brand to represent Vietnam at the The Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program. We were also very honored that our products were selected as an official gift for Japan’s royal family and its 10 heads of state.
Most recently, on July 1st 2020, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Thien Moc Huong – a milestone that we were proud to share with more than 80,000 customers in 20 countries.
When it comes to the brand, what Thien Moc Huong team takes pride in the most?
It is the trust that our customers place in us. At Thien Moc Huong, we are proud that customers who cherish agarwood incense and jewelry trust us to deliver products of the finest quality.
The most meaning thing for us is to see the products being treasured as a valuable keepsake and a sincere companion. Our customers see our bracelets as more than just another piece of jewelry. It is our customers' loyalty and confidence that have allowed Thien Moc Huong to perspire and succeed in the industry.
What lies ahead for Thien Moc Huong?
In the near future, the team will continue to invest in developing new product lines, bringing Thien Moc Huong products such as jewelry, bracelets and incense to more customers in more countries. As we expand, we will continue focusing on international customer service development and on cooperating with our overseas partners to promote Vietnamese agarwood in the international arena.
Information about Thien Moc Huong's promotion
From July 1 - July 15, 2020, Thien Moc Huong is offering a 50% discount on shipping fee, plus a special gifts worth 40USD for customers when purchasing our products.
Showroom 1 : 71 Nguyen Khac Nhu, Co Giang Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh
Showroom 2: 363 Kim Ma, Ngoc Khanh Ward, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 8am - 10pm Monday to Sunday
Hotline: +84 933 348 368
View more products from Thien Moc Huong at: https://tmhagarwood.com/