#Power of Businesses l 2019-09-09
Today, we’ll introduce you to Chunzam Bio which manufactures products using amino acids in silkworms, also known as silk protein. Let’s hear from the company’s CEO Cho Moon-ja.
I’m so fond of silkworms that some people call me Ms. Mulberry. Some 20 years ago I was totally fascinated by silk protein and I’ve carried out relevant businesses since then. While working as a distributor, I found myself hoping to manufacture great products myself. So, I’ve been producing my own products since 2015, combining high quality materials with the fermentation technology at my disposal.
The inception of Chunzam dates back to 1983, when Ms. Cho, a specialist in skin and body care, happened to read a paper about silk protein. Captivated by the new material, she developed and provided various products using silk cocoons and even named her company Chunzam Bio.
The word “chunzam” refers to the caterpillar of the silk moth that feeds upon the leaves of oak trees. So, what inspired her to take the plunge into the development of silkworm products and what are the benefits of silkworms?
Silkworms are rich in protein and grow in a clean environment. As we know, silkworms live on mulberry leaves. Full of good nutrients, silkworms and silkworm pupae are considered to be a precious, inexhaustible asset, with which we can constantly develop various products. They are a very good source of protein.
The silkworm is dubbed as a “heaven-sent insect.” In the past, silkworms were utilized in the textile industry to produce silk, which is by far the finest cloth. In the 21st century, sericulture has emerged as a promising bio industry for the future. In fact, silkworm threads were even used as cloth material over 3,000 years ago. When coated with antibacterial food additives, they become surgery threads that dissolve inside the body.
Silkworms have high protein content, as the percentage of total protein by dry weight is nearly 56 percent. The “silk protein” reeled off from cocoons is known to be effective in killing germs and healing wounds. Made up of a highly biocompatible substance, the silkworm protein is used as material for artificial bones and eardrums.
Chunzam Bio paid attention to these benefits and successfully developed technology to separate and extract 18 different kinds of natural amino acids in silkworms for the first time in Korea and for the second time in the entire world. To sharpen its technological edge, the company has been willing to accept new technologies from the Rural Development Administration. As a result, it has been releasing various products based on silkworm amino acids, such as facial soaps, raw materials for cosmetics and toothpastes. Ms. Cho, a former skin care expert, put a great deal of effort into developing natural silk soaps.
Our silk soap is produced by fermenting protein and minerals in wild silkworms. When you wash your face with this soap in the morning, you can simply massage your face with soap bubbles. You can cleanse your skin well and also keep your skin moist all day long. The protein and mineral substances in the soap help improve skin elasticity as well. If they use the soap for only a week, people with dull, dark skin will find that their skin has brightened and shines. Some might think that soaps are all the same, but rubbing your face with soap bubbles containing these nourishing substances every morning and evening will definitely produce the same effect as applying a facial mask twice a day. I’m sure that users of this soap will have an amazing experience with their faces turning whiter and clearer.
Substances comprising of silk cocoons are similar to those of human skin. Silk protein produced from the cocoons stimulates collagen growth within the skin and helps skin cells regenerate. The company incorporated these benefits into facial soaps. To create a natural silk soap, it hydrolyzed the silk protein and added various substances like yeast, microbes, organic acids, amino acids and minerals using its patented fermentation technology. In a sense, the soap could be regarded as a cosmetic product since it is greatly helpful in keeping the skin beautiful and healthy.
In addition to the soap, Chunzam Bio has also released the “silk soap base” for consumers who want a more special soap tailored to their own needs.
You can cut the silk soap base and melt it on a pot at a low temperature. Add some serum or essence oil to it, mix it well and put the mixture in a milk carton or plastic bottle. After the mixture firms up, take it out of the carton or bottle, cut it and let it dry. Then you can use it as soap. You don’t need to purchase expensive soaps because you can make your own, high-quality soap to improve your skin, just by using the base.
This product is immensely popular and drew an enthusiastic response from users. Some even describe it as “God’s move” which means it was a clever solution.
The natural silk soap base costs less than 7,000 won, which is about six U.S. dollars per kilogram. Consumers can get the base containing the beneficial silk protein at a reasonable price and make their own soaps at home. They have expressed great satisfaction with the handmade soap that cleanses well and keeps their skin clear and moist.
As a recipient of the Hi Seoul Excellent Product Award hosted by the Seoul Business Agency, Chunzam Bio also expanded its presence in overseas markets, such as the U.S. and France, after it started exporting its goods three years ago. The company is hoping to witness the growth of the natural silk soap market.
My goal is to contribute to expanding the soap market, especially the market for silkworm-based ones. I hope that many more consumers will be eager to use Chunzam products and say, “This is cool. I love it!” With innovative products that enjoy huge popularity, I am aiming to increase our market share gradually.
Silkworms are used as a key material in a wide range of fields, from skin care to food and medicine. Chunzam Bio is sure to make the most of the sericulture industry which has infinite potential for growth.