Fair trade textile business wraps up

The following article was published Sept. 30, 2014 in South Shore News (and the Progress Bulletin newspaper in Nova Scotia, Canada).

Note: We will continue to sell our textiles through shows in Nova Scotia until they all find new homes. See our Events page for show listings. You can also order from our SHOP page until Nov. 28, 2014.

We will keep this website and blog to continue to share the stories of these remarkable artisans online. Browse through our blog (see Older Posts too or search for topics that interest you), visit the Artisans page and learn about Weaving Culture in Thailand and Laos.

Young Lao village weaver at her loom
Young Lao village silk weaver at her loom

For seven years, Mahone Bay-based Tammachat Natural Textiles has visited and worked with more than a dozen women's weaving co‑ops, social enterprises, certified fair trade businesses and family weaving groups in Thailand and Laos.

This fall, co-founders Alleson Kase and Ellen Agger will be wrapping up their business with a large textile show in Mahone Bay from October 3 to 5, 2014 and with a number of smaller shows around the province.

By helping hundreds of international weavers reach new customers in Canada, Tammachat supported them in their efforts to preserve their artistic and cultural traditions and to create additional income for rural families.

Ms Kase, who returned to Canada after living eight years in Thailand to pursue a degree in international development, said, "When women have money, they spend it on nutrition, education and housing.

"This work has helped enhance the status of women in their communities," she added, "and we've been proud to support that. Their textiles are beautiful, especially the organic silk scarves and fabrics."

However, the membership of weaving groups in Thailand has shrunk over the years, explains Ms Kase, despite their attempts to find new, younger members.

"When the co-op that inspired us to launch Tammachat Natural Textiles announced last year its decision to close its shop, we were prompted to re-examine our own priorities. We decided, like the members of Prae Pan, that we were ready for a change."

Since 2007, Tammachat has sold more than 5,000 handwoven, naturally dyed and fairly traded textiles through shows and fairs across Nova Scotia. Tammachat has also donated thousands of books to children in rural Laos through Big Brother Mouse, a pioneering social enterprise that works to increase literacy in Laos. Its program publishes and distributes books in the Laotian language, featuring the work of young Laotian artists who create beautifully illustrated books for young readers. Tammachat gives one book to a child in Laos for each textile piece it sells to support this project.

Ms Kase and Ms Agger plan to continue their travels in Southeast Asia and hope to find new ways of connecting with communities there. Meanwhile, they will hold their final big show during the Great Scarecrow Festival and Antique Fair at the Mahone Bay Centre, this weekend.

"We want their stories to inspire others. These are hard-working and remarkable women who weave very special textiles that are both beautiful and environmentally friendly," Ms Kase said.

Final big show on Nova Scotia's South Shore

For 7 amazing years, TAMMACHAT has visited and worked with more than a dozen weaving co-ops, social enterprises, certified fair trade businesses and family weaving groups in Thailand and Laos.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to the hundreds of women weavers who welcomed us into partnership to preserve their artistic and cultural traditions, to enhance the status of women and to create additional income for rural families. Now it's time for a change. Read more...

But first, we invite you to join us for our final big show of 2014 in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia: Oct. 3-5, 2014, during the Great Scarecrow Festival & Antique Show. More details...

30% off TAMMACHAT silk fabrics!

Our fairly traded, handwoven silk fabrics are available by special order at 30% off listed prices! Visit our SHOP page to see what's available. Contact us to arrange a private viewing if you're in Nova Scotia.

Perfect for a range of sewing projects: from jackets, blouses, skirts and pants to cushion covers, table runners and more -- get your creative juices flowing! All our silk fabrics are created by women's weaving groups in rural Thailand.

[See our previous blog post for other ways to connect with TAMMACHAT in 2014.]

TAMMACHAT handwoven silk fabrics
Our handwoven, fairly traded silk fabrics are 30% off listed prices.
Visit our SHOP page for details.

Connect with TAMMACHAT in 2014!

  • Browse our fairly traded textiles at one of our upcoming shows in Nova Scotia in the summer and fall of 2014. See our Events page for listings.
  • Order silk scarves and fabric by email – you can find them online.
  • Find our wrap pants, reversible hats and other TAMMACHAT textiles at the Cosmic Hippie Boutique at 498C Main St. in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia.
  • Re-discover our website and blog where we archive our stories from years of visits with the amazing women's weaving groups that welcomed us. By keeping the TAMMACHAT website online, we continue to network those interested in SE Asian and fair trade textiles, weaving co-ops and more. This  will continue to be an important part of our work to promote fair trade and women's empowerment.
  • Read our weaving books online. Preview them for free in our Blurb bookstore, buy an ebook or order a soft/hardcover edition. Great gifts!
Find TAMMACHAT cotton wrap pants, hats and more at
the Cosmic Hippie Boutique, 498C Main St., Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

A sampling of handwoven, silk fabrics available from TAMMACHAT.

Interested in DIY/making your own?

We're pulling together the handwoven fabrics we've been collecting over the years -- ready for your sewing and textile projects:
  • metres of organic, undyed, textured silk and finer silks for clothing
  • 2m lengths of black cotton from Laos with beautiful, elaborately woven borders - perfect for a skirt or other project
  • 2 rolls of unique fabric made from the bark of the Yaboi tree!
  • smaller pieces of silks and cottons for quilting, cushion covers, any textile project in your imagination 
Contact us if you're interested. We're happy to visit your quilt guild too with our travelling fabric show!

Here's a small sampling of what we have. See our SHOP page for more lengths of silk fabric.

Join TAMMACHAT at the Fair Trade Bazaar, May 10-11, 2014 in Halifax, Nova Scotia!



Join us at Nova Scotia’s most unique Fair Trade Bazaar! Come explore the rich and exotic variety of fairly traded goods -- from natural textiles and jewellery to felted carpets and textile art to women's accessories, handbags and home wares. Celebrate Mother's Day and World Fair Trade Day by supporting local Nova Scotian businesses that practice globally conscious trade with cooperatives and other groups in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

More books for kids in Laos

TAMMACHAT sponsors 2 more book parties and daily reading programs at rural schools in Laos! Thanks to our customers over the last year, kids got books published in Laos by Big Brother Mouse in:
  • Jan. 8, 2014: Laksaopat Village, Xieng Khuang Province
  • Feb. 12, 2014: Huaikhorng Village, Xieng Khuang Province

"Spectacular Textiles of Nan River Basin" -- Exhibition Opening, Chiang Mai, Thailand

We had the good fortune to be invited to the opening night of a new textile exhibition at the Bank of Thailand Museum in Chiang Mai, Thailand on Dec. 20, 2013 -- "Spectacular Textiles of Nan River Basin." And spectacular they are, as was the evening's show.

Guests arrrived in their finery -- dressed in elaborate, handwoven textiles from Nan province, Lanna textiles (from Northern Thailand) and beyond. We enjoyed local food -- noodles of all sorts, bananas roasted over a fire and glazed with pineapple and coconut, sweetened sesame sticky rice balls and other delicacies served in small bowls made from dried leaves secured with hand-carved toothpicks, along with fruit drinks served in cups made from segments of bamboo.

Our focus this trip is to spend more time learning about and appreciating traditional textiles in this region. It was great to see so many young people at the exhibition opening, as without their interest, these traditions face an uncertain future.