The Beat - A pulse on our findings and adventures

What makes TaiLeu cotton so good?

Posted by Emi Weir on

(as published in Garland Magazine Issue 6)​I was introduced to Navon in 2011, by SuSu, a French woman living and working at a boutique hotel situated along the Mekong River. The hotel had ordered cotton indigo towels for the pool and the weavers had made too many—the hotel could not purchase them all. Susu, in her benevolence, suggested I may want to sell them in my newly opened fair trade store. I purchased some of them. They were really more like shawls, and surely enough, they sold well. I ordered more. I went to visit Navon at her home to learn more...

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In Search of the Comb

Posted by Emi Weir on

Today, you may only identify the Kui (pronounced Gway) people by a comb worn in the front of the women’s hair. And not all the women wear this. However Say, our driver, guide and true lover of the unknown, was in search of a Gui village, an ethnic group he had not met. On arrival, our first house encounter does not bode well. The women do not look happy and the men have the appearance of substance abuse. Everyone is inactive, and not smiling. So Say gets them going, he asks about their traditional dress, where they originally came from, how...

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A morning with the Akha Phouly, from the village behind the cliff.

Posted by Emi Weir on

It was dark when we arrived at the Muang Long market and the vendors themselves were still arriving and claiming their square. The Akha Pouly women were over in the corner, and it felt good over there. I would go around the market to see what was for sale, take another turn to see what had sold, but, I best liked the corner with the Akha women.. I was an outsider and it felt they were also, back there, in their corner. I bought some tamarind from one, a cluster for 1,000kip. I only had a 2,000 note so told her...

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Craft Forward - An Invitation from the British Council

Posted by Emi Weir on

In January I was invited by the British Council to tell the story of Ma Te Sai, at a conference which exposed different Southeast Asian business models to Burmese producers, and shared knowledge of the region. Not only did it validate Ma Te Sai within a wider artisan enterprise context, it is also gave incredible impetus to keep moving forward, mutually developing with our artisans. At the same time I had been in dialogue with Kevin Murray, one of the editors of Garland magazine, a new publication traversing cultures with craft. In their words:"This magazine uses the garland as a motif to...

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Hmong Embroidery & Culture in Luang Prabang

Posted by Emi Weir on

   Bai Lee has been making products and teaching embroidery classes with Ma Té  Sai for four years now. These classes help supplement income for the family. Extended families live together and relatives often visit those living in town, so there are always many mouths to feed. She started sewing when she was about four years old. Extra income, for many Hmong families, is earned by the women selling handicrafts at the night market in Luang Prabang. Hmong Origins: The Hmong or Miao, as they are known, in China, moved down from Southern China to Laos over many years, the largest early migration...

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