If you visited our shops in Luang Prabang, you’d most definitely seen baskets and baskets overflowing with whimsical and colourful soft toys. Our very own menagerie is made in the mountains of Laos by remote artisans. Elephants, goats, geckos, chickens, bats, spiders, you name it, we most probably have it.
Together we make sure to upcycle all fabric wastes…
Even though nowadays, in the most remote villages of Laos, factory-made toys have found their way into Lao households, handmade toys still hold a special place in the children’s hearts and daily informal play dates. For a few years now, Akha and Tai Lue artisans have been sharing those toys and dolls initially intended for their very own children with kids around the world.
Upcycling + Embroidery
In Laos, nothing goes to waste and we appreciate the fact that when we work with artisans from around the country, we share the same sustainability values — even if they don’t label like that — and together we make sure to upcycle all fabric wastes. Akha Nukui artisans are highly skilled in appliqué, embroidery and sewing. So when we started working with women artisans from Ban Pha Poun, an Akha Nukui village in Boun Neu District, in the Phongsaly Province, and they showed how creative and open to new ideas they were, we suggested developing a range of jewelry, accessories and… eco-friendly toys and dolls with them.
Akha Nukui artisans are highly skilled in appliqué, embroidery and sewing.
Until now, they had not been able to get good prices for their products because they neither used natural materials nor had the proper tools to support their production. By training them in new designs and providing them with new tools, we’ve increased their chances of selling their products at a higher price. We expect their market to grow in the future and generate more income.
You can shop their toys and dolls on our webshop if you want to support this project, a collaboration with the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) under the aegis of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry – Lao PDR. Funded by Trade for Development ECL Project on Promotion of Export Competitiveness and Sustainability Support to Public-Private Dialogue in Northern Lao).
Christmas ornament? Keyring? Decoration for any hook or door knob? Depending on the size you choose, there are countless ways to use these cute ornaments, toys and dolls made by Akha artisans. Wondering what to gift a new baby or a young toddler?! Our handmade and embroidered Akha toys and dolls are a wonderful choice. Soft cotton and embroidered details make these dolls easy to snuggle and take along anywhere.
Did you know that Laos was once known as “the land of a million elephants”? Our natural cotton elephant bestseller pays tribute to the Land of a Million Elephants and it is a great souvenir, toy or gift! These handmade elephant dolls are made by Tai Lue women in Northern Laos, using organic Lao cotton and natural dyes.
Do it Yourself
At the end of last year, when we welcomed artisans from our Village Weavers Project to our Living Crafts Centre in Luang Prabang, for our Village Market Fair, we wanted to learn a bit more about how those toys and dolls were made. We spent some time getting to know Euay Mae Tse and she insisted on showing us how to make a small ornament.
Follow our DIY Akha Embroidery tutorial and learn some tips and tricks from Euay Mae Tse to either make your very own ornament or gain some more appreciation for the wonderful work our artisans are doing. And if you purchase a toy or a doll, an artisan somewhere in the remote Lao mountains will most definitely do a happy dance…