You don’t choose a life, you live one. – This is what I learnt from the visit to Chubby Feng.
Usually for a poor Chinese woman from the countryside, life is about helping the family, getting marry and raising children, anything but adventure. However, it is not the Chubby Feng case, she owns four small restaurants and operate one veggie farm in Pudong Fengxian area. In her own words, it is time to enjoy the good life.
How did it happen?
At an young age, she is like a BOY. Brave and never afraid of competition. Once there was a contest where all of the kids in her village was competiting to throw rice bags, the one who throw the farthest, would win a pretty bamboo basket. After the boys throw their bags, she simply walked backwards from the line and RUN to throw it….
Of course, Chubby Feng won and looked so happy that you can still feel that moment with her together when she was talking about this story.
Daughters are usually not so important in the remote areas of China, so Chubby Feng did not get much education and worked at a local factory. At that time, she makes around RMB30 per month, that’s what every worker makes. By the early 1980, China started to change under the great leader of Dong Xiaoping, business started to come back.
During the 80s, leaving the factory means give up the IRON BOWL – an iron bowl means a job that lasts for a life time. Feng decided to leave the factory and start her own street food stall. It was true that a street food seller makes a lot more money than the factory worker in the 80s.
She struggled for years. In winter she pedaled her creaky tricycle to sell pancakes and youtiao (deep-fried dough sticks) near the temple in the town center; in summer she peddled ice cream at the front gates of schools and kindergartens; they were frozen in her hand-made icebox insulated by thick cotton padding.
Later on Feng became the first person from her village who decided to rent a big farm and sell veg to the city people….all of the people in her village think she is stupid and not a good wife because she did not take good care of her son and obey her husband.
For 3 years, the weather has been bad, she did not make any money and losted money. One morning as she was driving her loaded truck to the food market, she had a collision and suffered serious injury. A leg was badly broken and she hurt her voice crying for help. The village people thought she was stupid and looked down at her, her husband blamed her for starting the business. She could not even give RMB5 to her son to let him watch a movie.
I remember that at one point of the meeting, I asked Feng: WHY do you keep doing this? You don’t have to work so hard? You could remain as a factory worker, and be a normal woman.
Feng’s face was sad for a while and she took sometime to think about it, but her answer was firm and strong: Because I can’t live the rest of my life by letting people think that I am a loser. I need to have business so I can provide a better life for my family. There are so many brothers and sisters in my family and my in-laws always looked down at us because we were poor.
People says that only one out of ten business will succeed, so what do we do? TRY 10 times!
Feng tried 4 times in her life and she finally succeed. Once you arrives at Zhuanghang Town old street, you will see the sign of Chubby Feng restaurant. Her specialty is the local dumplings, i.e. Zhongzi, Qingtuan. She currently holds the district record for making rice dumplings – 29 in 18 minutes – and she’s a master of many traditional snacks.
Ones Life Must Matter
After Feng become successful, all of the person that knows about her changed their mind. They now think that she is a great woman, brave and smart. People from the small village also felt that if Feng can run a business and change her fate, they should also be able to do it as well.
Interesting, right? Just don’t give up if you have a dream.