Since October 2019, we’ve been working with artisans from 6 different villages and 3 provinces in collaboration with the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF). We help them develop ranges of handicrafts that combine craftsmanship and tradition with realistic creativity and market knowledge.
Over the past two weeks, our production team has been road tripping around northern Laos! Training is an essential part of our collaboration with artisans through our Village Weavers Project. Our team of weavers, dyers, designers and tailors travel to the different villages we work with to transfer their skills and assist artisans in making a better living from handicrafts.
Follow us as we get to know a bit more about the artisans living and working in these 6 villages in the Oudomxay, Luang Namtha and Phongsaly provinces.
Ban Phapoun, Phongsaly
Ban PhaPoun is an Akha Nukui village in Boun Neu District, in the Phongsaly Province. It is home to 60 families. At the moment, we work with 15 women from the village. The Akha Nukui are highly skilled in applique, embroidery and sewing.
Very creative, they are open to new ideas which allowed us to develop a range of jewelry, accessories and toys with them. So far, 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 new tools, we’re increasing their chances of selling their products at a higher price. We expect their market to grow in the future.
Learn more about Ban Phapoun.
Ban Longthang, Phongsaly
Ban Longthang is an Akha Oma village in Boun Tai District, Phongsaly Province. We work with 10 out of the 100 families who live there. The remote location of the village makes trade difficult but some of their products — jackets, head scarves, belts, purses, coasters and placemats — mixing cotton and embroidery are in high demand. With our support those unique products have better access to the market.
Learn more about Ban Longthang.
Ban Lakkham, Luang Namtha
Ban Lakkham is an Akha village in Muang Sing District, in the Luang Namtha Province. At the moment, we work with 20 of the 88 families living in the village. We co-developed a range of upcycled products with these communities such as coasters, placemats and purses using aluminum cans. There is a market demand for these products but the artisans needed help to develop new ranges of products. They also needed more training, new tools and better planning.
Learn more about Ban Lakkham.
Ban Sinoudom, Luang Namtha
Ban Sinoudom is a Tai Lue village in Luang Namtha District, Luang Namtha Province. There are about 69 Families – 54 Tai Lue and 15 Khmu. Ban Sinoudom is different from Tai Lue villages in the Oudomxay province. This village is located on the border between Luang Namtha province and Oudomxay Province.
Ban Sinoudom preserved their weaving traditions. They have mastered many weaving techniques such as Sinh Nam Lai (tapestry), Chok and Kit (supplementary weft) for their own use and to sell in order to earn some extra income for their families. Traders usually buy from their village to export to Thailand.
Most of the raw materials purchased from the market are imported. When we started working with them, we encouraged them to use local raw materials for production. The artisans are very much interested in cultivating cotton, cotton spinning and natural dyeing.
Learn more about Ban Sinoudom.
Ban Houeyhok, Oudomxay
Ban Houeyhok is a Tai Lue village in Houn District, Oudomxay Province. There are about 138 Families. 49 are Tai Lue and 89 Khmu. The weaving techniques have been preserved and the cultural traditions and lifestyle of the village protected.
They have land to cultivate cotton, enough even to export, but had stopped producing cotton, because they didn’t have access to markets. They are highly skilled weavers and have already mastered many traditional patterns and techniques such as Chok, Louang and Nam Lai and also natural dyeing.
Learn more about Ban Houeyhok.
Watch this video to learn more on how cotton is produced.
Ban Mang, Oudomxay
Ban Mang is located in Beng District, Oudomxay Province, around 60km from downtown. It is a Khmu village of about 150 families. For now, we work with 50 families, of which 95% are women.
We have been working with Khmu artisans on piet products for years but have noticed that when they have important orders, it is always a challenge with sizes and inconsistency in quality. Working with piet is time-consuming because the fiber is very short and needs to be hand-twisted. With training and the support of new tools, we’re hoping that the artisans will meet the customers’ requirements and thus be able to access more markets.
Learn more about Ban Mang.
Watch this video to learn more on how piet bags are produced.
The activity was supported by ECL Project which is funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF).
EIF is an Aid for Trade partnership in action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Operational since 2009, the EIF is a multi-donor program that supports the LDCs to become more active players in the global trading system by helping them tackle supply-side constraints to trade.
ECL Project intends to promote private sector-led economic growth in the least developed Northern Region of the country in response to the Government’s eight National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP). The project consists of three components: Improvement of the local business environment, Enhancement of productivity and exports of critical sectors, and project management.
More blogs, including videos and photos coming soon!