We're proud to work with artisan groups in Thailand and Laos. A short description of each of our partner groups follows. For more information and stories:
Meet TAMMACHAT Natural Textiles' artisan groups below.
"You must consider the whole process if you want to support this art. It is difficult to produce by hand. Our work is real women's group work, handmade art and tradition."
Mae Samphun Jundaeng
Chairperson, Panmai Group
Panmai Group has 250 members living in 3 provinces in northeast Thailand in both Khmer and Laotian villages, who draw on these cultural traditions in their designs. These women are highly skilled in sericulture (the entire cycle of silk production) and are proud to weave only organic, village-reeled and naturally dyed silk yarns.
They are expert and widely respected for their dyeing skills using natural materials, protecting both their own health and that of their environment.
Preview our photo book about Panmai Group online for free.
It is with sadness that we say goodbye to Prae Pan, the weaving co-op with whom TAMMACHAT first began our work. After more than 2 decades, the community business decided in January 2013 to close its doors as members age and retire. We continue to sell their products with a focus on their soft cottons. And we thank them for their generosity and partnership over the years.
Prae Pan Group had dozens of members in northeast Thailand's Khon Kaen province. They were highly skilled at supplementary weft weaving and the natural dyeing of cotton, and they wove organic silk as well. Prae Pan operated for more than 20 years and was proud to be entirely villager-run and self-sufficient. They spawned a successful credit union that continues its work with more than 500 members.
Preview our photo book about Prae Pan Group online for free.
Mulberries is the market brand of the Lao Sericulture Co., a not-for-profit social enterprise that is accredited by the World Fair Trade Organization. Its goal is to strengthen the position of women in Laos by providing them with dependable incomes and to preserve their sophisticated weaving and natural dyeing techniques. Women are further trained to bring diverse skills and environmental sustainability to the complex cycle of silk production with extraordinary results.
Founder Kommaly Chantavong was a nominee for 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005 for her work on this important project that is recognized for its poverty alleviation, cultural preservation and peace building.
Preview our photo book about Mulberries Organic Silk online for free.
Junhom Bantan is a northern Thai weaving group that specializes in eco-friendly natural dyes and handweaving. They weave with soft, handspun cotton, as well as stronger, unbleached cotton yarns. These cultural traditions are still alive and well, thanks to the efforts of Mai, the woman who acts as the group's manager and whose mother started the group many years ago.
A keen interest in natural fibres and natural dyes in Japan, as well as other countries, continues to provide a market for their eco-textiles.
The group has received “Green Product” certification from the Thai Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, available only to small textile producers that use environmentally responsible processes.
Warm Heart Foundation is a grassroots organization that empowers rural Thai villages in the Phrao district of northern Thailand. Their Microenterprise program helps local artisans and entrepreneurs generate their own sources of income by supplementing local artisan and craft skills with business know-how and access to retail markets. Warm Heart also trains landless women in silk growing, spinning, natural dyeing and weaving. Our spun Eri silk scarves are made by the Pa Daeng Weavers, a temple-based group, in partnership with a Warm Heart weaving co-operative. In 2013, they planted fields of Eri silkworms' favourite food with plans to increase Eri silk production in future years.
Sop Moei Arts is a self-supporting, non-profit organization that grew out of a public health project founded in 1977. In its first decade, the project focused on maternal and children's health of Pwo Karen villagers in the remote Sop Moei district of Mae Hong Son province in northern Thailand. More than 30 years later, the project has grown to provide a fair income for hundreds of Pwo Karen villagers while preserving women's traditional textile weaving and men's basketry skills.
Suchada Cotton, based in Sakhon Nakhon province in northeast Thailand, is a small village group of older women – rice farmers (like most of the weavers with whom we work) who are skilled natural dyers and weavers. This area is well-known in Thailand for kram -- the Thai word for authentic indigo. Combined with the bark of the mango tree, indigo produces a deep green, also a popular colour for Suchada's many handwoven products. The rich coffee browns, the third in their trio of signature colours, comes from ma-kleu (Diospyros mollis), often referred to in English as Burmese ebony.
Kumpor Eco is a weaving and tailoring co-op in northern Thailand. Members include dyers, handweavers, pattern-makers, sewers and organic cotton farmers. They colour their cloth with natural dyes and low impact chemical dyes from Germany and the UK that are certified “environmentally friendly.”
The co-op has received “Green Product” certification from the Thai Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, available only to small textile producers that use environmentally responsible processes.
Napafai is a social enterprise that works with a network of small, village-based weaving groups near and along the Mekong River in Ubon Ratchathani province in northeast Thailand. In past years, the groups were part of the Organic Cotton Project set up by a Thai NGO that works to balance development and conservation among disadvantaged communities and stateless peoples along Thailand's borders. Now Napafai helps these groups develop new products and market their work in the capital city of Ubon and beyond.
Their products are handmade with an indigenous species of cotton organically grown along the Thai-Lao border on the banks of the Mekong River or sourced from their network in Laos. One village group specializes in indigo dyeing, always popular for its lively colour – "nature’s true blue."
Preview our photo book about Weaving Sustainable Communities: Organic Cotton Along the Mekong online for free.
Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women, located outside Vientiane, the capital of Laos, offers training and employment for Lao women from disadvantaged backgrounds in the areas of natural dyeing, traditional Lao weaving, tailoring and small business administration. We carry some of their beautiful silk scarves.
According to its website:
Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Woman has 3 main objectives:
- To provide training for various skill levels, in weaving, dyeing and tailoring for women from rural areas who are disadvantaged, poor and/or who have a disability
- To revive and support Lao's traditional crafts, such as natural dyeing and traditional weaving
- To introduce other suitable skills, such as tailoring, to women who have little education
Initially funded by Japanese and other development organizations, they now rely on income from the sale of products made by trainees and staff (past trainees), and from tour activities at the Centre.
Read about our Weavers Helping Weavers fundraising efforts that trained 3 young women at the Houey Hong Centre.
Saoban (Village Handicrafts From the Heart of Laos) is a fair trade social enterprise that has grown out of earlier sustainability projects in the Lao countryside. Many of these were the work of a local NGO, the Participatory Development Training Centre (PADTEC).
Saoban, meaning "village people," now stands on its own feet, which ideally is the goal of all development projects. It works closely with village artisan groups in many regions of this diverse and mountainous country to provide training in business planning, product development, marketing, and access to micro-credit.
Saoban provides much-needed markets for village products that range from handspun, organic cotton scarves and iPad sleeves to bamboo-silk handbags and naturally dyed silk scarves. This is part of PADETC's vision for Laos: education for sustainable development.
Fai Gaem Mai (The Cotton and Silk Project) is based at the Institute for Science and Technology Research at Chiang Mai University. It helps community-based production groups in northern Thailand develop handwoven Eri silk products, one of the textile products that TAMMACHAT carries. The Eri silkworm feeds on the leaves of cassava, rather than mulberry, providing additional income for villagers already growing this high-volume, low-value commodity.