Designing & Upcycling with HLA DAY in Myanmar

Designing & Upcycling with
HLA DAY in Myanmar

Why is Myanmar difficult terrain for artisans? Plastic upcycling genius Peter Pau Son, founder of Shin Thant Plastics, and Ulla Kroeber, co-founder and lead designer at Hla Day, a crafts and design organisation in Yangon, helps us understand the challenges of doing business in Myanmar.
opt divider small 02 - upcycling

Myanmar is a country rich in cultural diversity and craftsmanship, Ulla Krober tells me. Ulla is the co-founder and head designer at Hla Day, an organisation dedicated to helping Myanmar artisans find ways to innovate and market their products. “We love upcycling,” Ulla says, adding that Hla Day works with several plastic, metal, glass and textile recycling and upcycling projects. But in spite of this diversity of cultural representation and products, Hla Day and the artisans it works with are up against many challenges. Doing business in Myanmar is difficult, and now, with the repercussions of the pandemic bearing down, things are even tougher.

In this episode of Radio Ock Pop Tok, we hear from Ulla. Founded just four years ago, the organisation has made incredible headway. Hla Day provides design, business development training and marketing to any artisan who is interested in working with them. Myanmar’s political and economic landscape is challenging, to say the least. Crafts is a way for traditional artisans to earn income. In Myanmar, crafts also provides income opportunities for marginalised groups – such as people with disabilities, single mothers, and folks who identify as LGBT who may be left out of traditional jobs.

Pau Son came up with a unique way for recycling and upcycling used plastic bags and packaging.

Next, you’ll hear first hand from artisans like Peter Pau Son, founder of Shin Thant Plastics. Pau Son came up with a unique way for recycling and upcycling used plastic bags and packaging, turning them into “fabric” or “canvas.” Cleverly designed with patches of recycled plastic fused together to create whimsical and eye-catching patterns, the upcycled plastic is then sewn into a number of fashionable accessories.

Pau Son received design input and assistance from Ulla and Shin Thant products sold remarkably well at Hla Day’s shop in downtown Yangon. That is, as long as tourists are around to buy them. With no tourists, on site sales have come to a virtual standstill. Pau Son has had to lay-off his staff of two full time and 2 part time employees.

Large online shopping sites with global visibility, like Amazon, are also not open to doing business in Myanmar.

What about selling online? Both Pau Son and Ulla agree that international business, particularly for small enterprises and sellers, is nearly impossible. For one, there is highly regulated international banking, and online payment options like PayPal are not available in Myanmar. Large online shopping sites with global visibility, like Amazon, are also not open to doing business in Myanmar. While artisans around the world are pivoting from local tourism to international online marketing, both Ulla and Pau Son share the lack of these resources available to them.

I encourage you to listen to the episode and hear first-hand from Ulla and Pau Son. And, if you can please support their work.

Find out about Hla Day: www.hladaymyanmar.org

Follow on Hla Day Instagram: @hla_day

Missed the previous episodes of Radio Ock Pop Tok? Read and listen here!

Get in touch: [email protected]

Join our mailing list to get updates on new episodes: [email protected]om

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Related Posts:

Celebrating Stories on Film: Luang Prabang Film Festival

Celebrating Stories on Film:
Luang Prabang Film Festival

Luang Prabang is full of stories. Textiles, temples, ceremonies, rituals and conversations convey stories of Lao culture. As Lao culture evolves, film is emerging as a contemporary medium for storytelling, and the Luang Prabang Film Festival is at the forefront of nurturing modern storytellers and cinema in Laos and across Southeast Asia.

Discover »
Journey to Houaphan: OPT’s Village Weavers Project

Journey to Houaphan:
OPT’s Village Weavers Project

Jo Smith, Ock Pop Tok co-founder, regales us with the story of a spontaneous journey to Houaphan Province in northeastern Laos. This journey jumpstarted the Village Weavers Project, a dynamic model for village-based collaborations. Since the trip, the Village Weavers Project has evolved and grown, helping Lao women weavers and artisans access markets and preserve their cultural traditions.

Discover »
Pippa Small Explore Fairmined & Ethical Jewelry

Pippa Small
Explore Fairmined & Ethical Jewelry

What is “ethical jewelry”? What is fairly mined, or fairmined, gold? In this episode, renowned jewelry designer Pippa Small takes us inside artisan studios in Kabul, Yangon and Amman, shares her insights on the meaning of ethical jewelry and discusses the importance and value of collaborating with artisans in their home communities. Pippa Small is dedicated to building a conscientious and ethical marketplace. 

Discover »

Subscribe to our newsletter:

You will receive a welcome Email with a 15% coupon for our online store within one hour. If you don’t get anything, please check your spam folder.

.

And get 15% off on your first purchase.