Hello again:) We are so sorry we have been so quiet but we have been travelling and shopping and getting into the groove of things in Chaing Mai.
Chiang Mai is a beautiful little city in the North of Thailand. Its surrounded by mountains and has a calming feel to it. The city itself is a wonderful place to explore. There are magical temples everywhere you look and your mouth salivates constantly because of all the street food and delicious smells coming from every little restaurant. We have already fallen in love.
Having lived in Thailand previously I knew we would love it and also knew we would find some beautiful things to buy and sell but it has been a little more difficult than expected.
Tourism is becoming one of the leading industries of the Thai economy and tourism has been rife since Thailand opened its borders to welcome the ‘Farang’ (local word used for foreigner) in. This is something you can see in the cities, country and of course in the textiles and craft. Unlike Vietnam, where most of the beautiful cloth, clothing and jewellery is still used by the locals, in Thailand it is different. Most of the textiles, cloth and clothing here are designed and made for tourists. We don’t think this is a bad thing at all, it is just different and we are getting our heads around it.
Exploring Chiang Mai with one of our newest finds
It is very difficult to find more information about villages surrounding Chiang Mai and most people expect you to book a tour. We are not anti-tour people but would prefer to go on our own as we would find it difficult to go on these tours which are done in a limited time frame. We want to get to know the artisans we work with and how they work so a tour wouldn’t really suit us. We have now decided to look at textile and buying in a different way.
There are so many incredible designers in Chiang Mai working with village women from ethnic tribes who are making modern designs. We have decided to take the city feel of Chiang Mai on and incorporate these beautiful pieces into our shop. They too have a story and a beautiful one at that.
We started our shopping at a market called Warorot market which is HUGE. Unfortunately because of an influx in demand of ‘tribal’ textile there is a lot of fake stuff. Some of the material is printed and brought in from china and this is not something we wanted. We were a little disappointed until we took a wrong turn and found our way to the H’mong market. There are a lot of local H’mong in Thailand too and this market is filled with beautiful H’mong clothing and cloth. We felt at home but were still not convinced and wanted something a little different.
We then decided to visit a local project called Daughters Rising. After getting lost and having to drive back through Chiang Mai as we went in the opposite direction, we arrived at a beautiful little place on a river. We spoke to a wonderful women Liv who told us more about the project. Daughters rising is a project with the mission of empowering at-risk women and girls through education to end trafficking and exploitation in their communities and break the cycle of inter-generational poverty. They also have an artisans program where they collaborate with women already producing traditional craft to create new crafts which is geared towards a global audience. They introduced us to Bo who is a member of a Karen tribe who lives in Na Sa village. She showed us how she used a back loom to weave her beautiful clothes and cloth.
Bo showing us how she weaves
Today we went back to the H’mong market on a mission to find more product and to speak to some of the ladies who worked there. We stumbled upon a beautiful little shop which sells bags, clothing, cloth and home wear which uses traditional cloth and textiles but with a modern twist. We wanted to know more about where and how these products were made and the cashier called the owner. We then took a drive to her workshop which was amazing.
Getting a massage while shopping
Pranee is the owner and has been working with different women from hill tribes in the surrounding areas of Chiang Mai for years. Her collections of textiles is INCREDIBLE, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Pranee pays a fair wage to all of her staff and it is a happy place to be in. All of the bags are hand made in beautiful taste with vintage h’mong and other tribal textiles.
Piles of textiles 🙂
Chiang Mai has been amazing so far and we cannot wait to share more of our journey with you.
Thank you and hope you enjoyed the post.