The Trip of a Lifetime

Santa Fe to Jackson Hole to Sausalito.

“I am so excited“ said Sith for the 42nd time that hour as the plane descended over the California coast and cruised into land at San Francisco airport. On the plane from Laos that day was Pany; OPT master weaver, Sith; head tour guide from the Living Crafts Centre, Pok and Heather from Passa Paa and myself and Nik, we were en route to Santa Fe for the International Folk Art Market.

ock pop tok laos blog 02 trip airport nap - The Trip of a Lifetime

Do you know the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe? It’s a market place for artisans from all over the world. This year featuring: 156 artisans from 54 countries around the world. Apart from drawing 21,000 people, and generating $3.1 million in sales, it’s a chance for artisan groups to feel like a part of a global movement, a movement that honours the handmade, the tradition of historic cultures, the diversity of peoples. So we are there for the 9th year a huge honour and privilege and an opportunity for 2 of our Lao team to experience the USA.

This year we selected Pany a weaver that has been with us for 14 years. Pany is also a mother of two girls, an enthusiastic football player, great cook and life and soul of any party. Her nickname at work is ‘Nai Ban’ meaning head of the village as her voice can often be heard over the clack clack of the looms as she cracks jokes and teases her colleagues. Unlike Pany Sith has never left Laos before or been a plane. Sith is from a neighbouring province but like many young men in LP moved here to be a monk. Once settled in LP he looked for work found a wife and is now a father of a beautiful young boy. Sith as has he keeps saying on the trip is “so excited”.

ock pop tok laos blog 05 textile sale - The Trip of a Lifetime

“I felt like a part of a bigger community of folk artists around the world”

The market went super well. We profiled traditional jackets and skirts, with a blend of our scarves and wall hangings.

The ambiance booth in Santa Fe also supported us by buying our Dream Catcher Peru keychains. A product that we developed to help fund our next ambitious plan: To send 8 Lao weavers to Peru for the Tinkuy Conference: a Gathering of weavers from all over the world. That’s happening in November 2017.

Pany said, “This was the trip of a lifetime for me. I love being an ambassador for Lao and sharing my culture and textiles with people from around the world. I felt like a part of a bigger community of folk artists around the world.”

As we do every year, we planned a road trip after the fair. This year we headed to Utah and the canyon lands. The pictures say it all. In one restaurant in Moab, Pany and Sith proudly placed a pin in a map on the wall that invited people to place pins showing where they are from. They were the first visitors from Laos!!

Our destination was Jackson Hole Wyoming, where our good friend Laely organized two trunk shows, one with WRJ design, a prestigious interior design company and the other with Inversion Yoga.

However first we had to tackle the wild Snake River. Two river trips later we were ready for the trunk shows. Again huge successes, we met super interesting people and enjoyed sharing our stories from Laos.

As Sith said “Hey Jo, it’s like we work for the Luang Prabang tourism board, I love telling people about where I am from, I never knew people would be so interested in my country.”

Before heading back to Laos we had the chance for one last visit, a short stop over in San Francisco afforded us the opportunity to meet with good friends Joanna and Mark. As soon as we arrived, we jumped in the camper van and headed to the golden Californian hills for our last US sunset.

These trips really see us fulfilling our mission: elevating the profile of Lao textiles and artisans, increasing economic opportunities and facilitating creative and educational collaboration in Laos and worldwide. And we would like to thank everyone for their support both friends, partners, volunteers at the IFAM, customers and fellow artisan groups. This really was the trip of a lifetime, so thank you!!

ock pop tok laos blog 11 america dry grass - The Trip of a Lifetime

Check out our instagram for more pictures of the trip.

Share this post

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

Related Posts:

Craft business

Shoshana Stewart: Pioneering Craft Business in Kabul

According to Shoshana Stewart, CEO of Turquoise Mountain, the cornerstones of sustainable craft business are energy, beauty and pride—terms not often emphasised in development work. In this episode we go to Afghanistan, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, taking ‘roads less travelled’ to see how Turquoise Mountain harnesses master artisan skills and launches a new generation of craft business.

Discover »
Tibetan Plateau

Norlha: Yaks, Nomads & the Tibetan Plateau

In Ritoma, a small village in the breathtaking grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau, we meet Kim and Dechen Yeshi. The mother-daughter duo began an ambitious project that brings together a rare fiber called yak khullu, an uncompromising aesthetic and a commitment to uphold the ancestral nomadic traditions of the Tibetan Plateau. You’ll hear how Kim and Dechen started Norlha, a social enterprise and weaving atelier where local nomads weave textiles using yak khullu, or yak wool that is on par with cashmere.

Discover »
Weaving techniques: Ikat, knot by knot

Weaving techniques: Ikat, knot by knot

Phou Tai communities in southern Laos are skilled cotton farmers and master Ikat weavers. Although Ikat can be done in many ways, in Laos we use the resist dye technique. Follow the thread as we look into the intricacies of this amazing weaving technique.

Discover »

Thank you for subscribing 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.