Veomanee Douangdala learnt how to weave from her mother when she was 8 years old. She is the youngest of four children and the only daughter. This position in the family brought many responsibilities. Veo became an accomplished weaver and her exceptional skill has helped her support her family. When she was 24 she took the adventurous step of co-founding Ock Pop Tok.
Veo has become a natural ambassador for Lao textiles, both meeting global dignitaries and inspiring young Lao women to follow in her footsteps and to empower themselves with their weaving skills. Veo is on the board of the chamber of commerce and has chaired the Luang Prabang Handicraft group. Veo leads the OPT weaving team, oversees the management of our Living Crafts Centre, and is responsible for of our Heritage textile collection.
In November 2017 Veo was invited to speak at a Ted-X Talk in Vientiane, focused on the theme “Reimagine” with the objective of empowering and celebrating women nationwide in Laos. Veo was able to share the story of Ock Pop Tok and how a small idea 18 years ago, has now grown into one of the biggest social enterprises in the textile industry in Laos. You can have a longer read here!
Veo leads the Ock Pop Tok product design and weaving teams, oversees the management of our Living Crafts Centre, and is responsible for of our Heritage textile collection. In her free time, you’ll find Veo tending to her garden at home, where she organically grows herbs and vegetables and even has a chicken coop and a fish pond! Veo loves spending time with her family but makes sure to meditate and do yoga, to balance her mind and body.
Jo has a BA in Fine Arts, specialising in sculpture and photography. A photography contract with an E.U funded development project brought her to Laos in 1999. While here in Laos, Jo was becoming increasingly enamored with the intricate weavings and the women who produced them. Veo’s creativity attracted Jo like a magnet. She had been looking for like-minded artists with whom to collaborate.
Both women shared a love for the traditional hand loomed textiles and were committed to preserving and promoting these textiles to the rest of the world. These shared interests led the two to co-found Ock Pop Tok in 2000.
In 2002 Jo initiated Ock Pop Tok’s rural development programme, the Village Weaver Projects whose goal is to alleviate poverty in rural areas. This has led to numerous consultancies in Value Chain Analysis for Lao government projects. This project currently employs over 400 artisans around Laos.
Jo has spoken about Ock Pop Tok’s mission at academic and museum conferences from Sydney to Washington D.C.. Recently she made a presentation about Lao textiles (in the Lao language) at Tinkuy, an international Textiles Conference in Cusco, Peru.
Jo now oversees the creative and strategic development of the company. You’ll find her buzzing around in her bright yellow scooter searching for new culinary ideas for Ock Pop Tok’s café or discovering more innovative products for the stores. She relaxes by playing football on the many athletic fields in Luang Prabang!