從餐桌到辦公桌,就是菇趣味減壓

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2013 / 5月

文‧劉嫈楓 圖‧金宏澔


現代人生活忙碌、步調緊湊,排解壓力已成了上班族的必修課題。不少人選擇在周末假日到戶外踏青,寄託自然舒緩心情,或者嘗試運動放鬆。但平日至少需待在辦公室8~9個小時,又該如何面對主管的嚴格要求,與同事的情緒、怨言?

104管理顧問公司總經理王榮春指出,外在困局看似無解,加薪、升職又遙遙無期,不少上班族降低願望,購買令自己愉悅、經濟足以負荷的商品。

早年黑白螢幕的電子寵物機、靠著太陽能自動搖頭晃腦的Flip Flap搖頭盆栽曾一度盛行;Facebook興起後,社交遊戲「開心農場」風靡,上班族化身為虛擬農夫,偷取閒暇。

現在一股來自職場的求救聲,又讓兩位年輕人看到機會。7年級的「就是菇」創辦人黃舜麟發揮創意巧思,讓出現於餐桌的香菇,化為辦公桌上的新奇小物,撫慰人心;擁有十多年廣告經驗的療癒系部落客李含仁,精準抓住職場心聲,創造出全台最紅上班族的「馬克」,以嬉笑詼諧的創意圖文,道盡職場百態,替上班族一吐怨氣。


論壇網站「Mobile 01」聚集白領用戶,在科技3C產品的熱門討論串中,去年9月意外出現一篇種植香菇的分享文。網友描述養菇心情,說到他把這株長於溫室的菇菌,放進畫有插圖的紙盒。灑水不到兩周,接觸空氣的菌種,竟冒出一朵朵白色、粉色與金黃色的蕈菇,讓他大呼「菇菇發芽後,隔天上班也變得特別期待。」

這股種菇熱潮,出自一名上班族。1年前,「就是菇」創辦人黃舜麟是台達電工程師,領著固定薪水的上班生活,讓他漸漸感到無聊。工作4年,黃舜麟體會到週遭職場白領,逃離忙碌生活的渴望。像是過去話題十足的「開心農場」,或是近來熱燒的App遊戲「蘑菇方吉」,都反映著都市人返璞歸真的心理。

抒壓解悶,上班族瘋下田

成長於香菇大鎮台中霧峰,兒時的黃舜麟曾與菇農舅舅穿梭菇寮,幫忙種菇、採菇。一次偶然機會下,他向舅舅要來菌種在家試種,短短幾天內,菇菌竟快速長大。他心想,何不讓香菇從餐桌挪上辦公桌,變為上班族的心靈出口。

去年3月,黃舜麟趁著周末返回霧峰,與舅舅研究開發合適的菌種。由於香菇須在溫度18~25度、濕度50%的環境下生長,遇上燠熱的夏日氣候,生長速度就會減緩;而即使溫度適合,若少了適當的濕度條件,也無法催生香菇。若按照他的構想,想讓上班族養在室內,勢必需要找尋合適菌種。

黃舜麟將最難的菌種研發工作,交給具有30年養菇經驗的舅舅,並找來一百多位親朋好友試種,記下生長紀錄。3個月後,他從二十多種菌種中,篩選出帶著淡黃色的黃金菇、口感如鮑魚的鮑魚菇、渾圓晶白的珍珠菇,以及透出粉色的粉紅甜心菇和木耳。抓住上班族嘗鮮求快的心理,他不斷調整菇菌成份中的木屑、米糠、碳酸鈣與粉頭比例,讓一個月才能長成的香菇,縮短到7~14天。

企管專才,圖文、包裝吸引白領

畢業自台北大學企管系,擁有美國Clemson大學企管碩士學位的他,善用行銷專才,把種菇變得趣味十足。

「上班族種菇是為了有趣,濕度、溫度的專業術語聽起來像是枯燥的實驗,也會嚇跑顧客,」他說。黃舜麟又找來開設行銷設計公司的學長林政緯,設計手繪插圖的紙盒包裝,搭配6道簡單、易懂的圖文解說,讓上班族自養自娛,過程新奇又有趣。

為了讓這項從未有人見過的產品,打入白領客群,黃舜麟和另兩名創業夥伴張欽龍、林政緯,以「菇」的諧音「good」試想過「Juice good」等不同品牌名稱,最後選定簡單易懂的「Just good就是菇」。同時,考慮到傳統花卉園藝盤商不易接受菇菌盆栽,黃舜麟決定放棄傳統通路,改以網路平台銷售。

透過網路傳播,知名部落客宅女小紅主動上門訂購,並在網站中讚賞,「(香菇)種出來好可愛,好想嚐嚐在家當自耕農的感覺。」在小紅的加持下,不少網友跟進,引爆養菇熱潮。

去年8月底,「就是菇」比預定期程提早3個月上市,短短一個月內,熱銷八千多盒,達成損益兩平。黃舜麟也在2個月後辭去工作,專心經營。現在,單月銷量平均達5,000~1萬盒,月營業額達新台幣百萬元。

養菇話題不斷,增添職場樂趣

「就是菇」官方網站上,上班族WaWa記下種菇的每一刻:「每天上班下班的第一件事情,就是朝著香菇噴水。原本不感興趣的同事,也好奇地關心桌上香菇。每當我一拿起水瓶,唰唰唰地噴水,前後左右就會傳來笑聲。」

「那天,因為有煩人的事等著面對,早忘了香菇的生長情形。但一走到桌前,看著突然長成四、五瓣的乳白色香菇,除了驚呼,再也無法做什麼反應了。一夕長大的香菇,引來同事詢問,讓我有點受寵若驚,心裡也有大大的滿足感。」

「不像手機遊戲只能自娛,從灑水、種植到採收,都能引發一連串的話題,也緩和了嚴肅的職場氣氛。」黃舜麟表示,比起虛擬的種菇遊戲,養菇沒有既定的規則,每個人種出來的香菇,外觀不同、成長速度不一,更特別的是,有份專屬自己的成就感。讓養菇熱潮,也意外成為職場最新的解壓良方之一。

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EN

Just Good’s Mushrooms

Reducing Office Stress

Liu Yingfeng /photos courtesy of Chin Hung-hao /tr. by Geoff Hegarty and Sophia Chen

With the pace of life flowing ever faster, the need to deal with stress has become an inevitable part of the average office worker’s life. Many people immerse themselves in the placid world of nature to soothe their spirit; others prefer various types of sporting activity to relax body and soul on the weekends. But the root source remains: today’s office workers are spending at least eight to nine hours a day on the job, so how are they to cope with the rigorous demands of bosses—and often moody and grouchy colleagues?

Spring Wang, general manager of 104 Management Consultants, points out that because there seems to be no immediate solution for the current economic woes, and little hope for promotion or pay rises, many office workers are tending to spend money on things that are within their means and that can bring them some pleasure.

Digital pets and flip flap solar dancing flowers were just the thing for the average office desk a few years ago, but then with the emergence of Facebook, the social network game “Happy Farm” took over. In order to bring a little of the joys of nature into the workplace, office workers imagine themselves as virtual farmers.

Hearing a cry for help from those forced to spend their weekdays confined to an office, two bright young men each sensed an opportunity. Stanley Huang, born in the 1980s, applied his creative mind to a new venture: his company, Just Good, has transformed the simple mushroom from a food item usually found on one’s dinner plate into a novel item for the office desk designed to soothe troubled hearts and minds. The second young man, Mark Lee, comes from more than 10 years in the advertising industry. Responding to what he saw as the needs of office workers, he has created a popular online comic character called Mark. Stories featuring Mark depict common workplace situations, with office workers complaining in witty and satirical ways.


In September 2012, an article about growing mushrooms appeared quite unexpectedly among the usual articles posted on the Mobile 01 online forum, popular with white-collar workers and devoted mainly to discussions related to 3C products (computer, communication and consumer electronics). The article describes how the writer took delivery of a block of mushroom growing medium, packed in a small carton decorated with illustrations, and began watering it regularly. Amazingly, in less than two weeks, white, pink and golden-yellow mushrooms emerged. “After watching my mushrooms sprout, I couldn’t wait to get into the office each day to check their progress,” the writer explains excitedly.

This writer’s experience is part of a mushroom growing sensation in Taiwan, created by Stanley Huang. Originally working in an office environment as an engineer for Delta Electronics, Huang gradually became bored with the (lack of) life in his workplace. So despite his modest working experience of around four years, he well understood the desire of office workers to escape from their dreary office-bound existence. At the same time, he noticed that popular games on social networking sites were tending towards the agricultural: games like the formerly popular “Happy Farm,” or a more recent app called “Funghi Gardening Kit.” Both reflect the desire of people confined to an urban lifestyle, and especially to the daily grind of office life, to return to nature.

Fun relieving stress

­Huang grew up in the Wu­feng District of Tai­chung, an area known for its mushroom farms, so during his childhood he would help his uncle to grow and harvest mushrooms. One day many years later, with all these thoughts in mind, he asked his uncle for some mushroom spawn to grow at home as an experiment. He was amazed to see that mushrooms emerged in just a few days, and the idea took root in his mind of transforming the mushroom from a simple dining table item, to one of stress relief on the office desk.

So one weekend in March 2012, ­Huang returned to his hometown to discuss developing various strains of fungi with his uncle. He eventually handed over the most difficult part of the work, identifying suitable fungi strains, to his uncle, a man with 30 years’ experience in the field. Huang also encouraged 100-odd of his friends and relatives to try growing mushrooms and record their growth. Three months later, he was in a position to make a shortlist of varieties from the 20 or more strains available for his purpose: the golden oyster mushroom, oyster mushroom, pearl mushroom (nameko), “sweetheart mushroom,” and jelly-ear fungus. With a good appreciation of the psychology of office workers, who tend to appreciate fast results, Huang adjusted the proportions of the growing medium, using materials like sawdust, rice bran, calcium carbonate, and wheat chaff, cutting the growing period from a month to between seven and 14 days.

Appealing to white-collar workers

With a degree from the Department of Business Administration, National Tai­pei University (NTPU), and also an MBA from Clemson University in the US, ­Huang has made good use of his marketing expertise in transforming mushroom farming into a fun activity for desk-bound office workers.

­Huang invited fellow NTPU alumnus Lin Zheng­wei, who runs a marketing design company, to create hand-painted illustrations for the mushroom growing cartons. With six simple and easy-to-understand illustrations to assist, office workers are able to learn the process of growing mushrooms in an entertaining and novel way.

Just Good’s website attracted the attention of well-known blogger Jhai Nyu Siao Hong. She ordered the product and fell in love with the experience: “The mushrooms are so cute, and I love being able to experience being a farmer at home.” With her seal of approval on the project, many visitors have followed, resulting in a mushroom growing boom.

Just Good launched its products onto the market three months earlier than scheduled at the end of August 2012, selling more than 8000 packages in the first month and reaching break-even. Just two months after the launch, Huang was able to resign from his engineering job to focus on his new business. Today, Just Good’s average monthly sales total around 5,000–10,000 packages, with a monthly turnover of NT$1 million.

A hot topic in the workplace

Office worker WaWa recorded every moment of her mushroom growing experience on the Just Good website: “That day there was a stack of things waiting for me to deal with, so I had totally forgotten about the mushrooms. But when I saw my desk with the fungi suddenly grown into five beautiful milky-white mushrooms, I was amazed. The fact that they had sprung up overnight had also attracted attention from colleagues and we chatted about their progress—I felt very satisfied with my miniature farm, and not a little flattered.”

“Unlike smartphone games that tend to separate people from others around them, growing mushrooms involves planting, watering and harvesting and often leads to an interesting discussion. It enhances the atmosphere in the office and tends to alleviate any stress,” says Huang. Unlike virtual gardening games, raising real mushrooms doesn’t have a rulebook. Each grower has their own individual touch, producing mushrooms that are different in appearance and in how quickly they grow. More particularly, growers gain a great sense of personal accomplishment. Who would have thought that the fashion for growing mushrooms would become one of the latest ways to relieve stress at work?

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