Artisan Organization: Chuleekorn
Country: Central America
"Growing up in Bangkok, I always played boy-games with my brothers. Not having any sisters to play with, I learned instead to assemble robots and airplanes. To this day we have dozens of aircraft collections which made ourselves.
"Another activity I enjoyed doing was going with my mom to buy fabric to be tailored into clothes at Bang Lam Phoo Town. Back then there weren't many ready-made clothes like there are now, and Bang Lam Phoo was the commercial town for most fabric shops. We usually went there every week, but the shops I was more interested in were bead and craft equipment shops, where I would admire the colorful beads while mom selected her textiles. Mom would allow me to buy just a few beads and I remember that I didn't do anything with those beads, just keep them where I could admire their exotic beauty.
"I was born into a warm and loving family, and my parents' main concern was that we'd grow to become good people and not get into trouble. Though they didn't pressure us with our studies, I finished high school with good grades and they supported me when I had the opportunity to study Graphic Design in Australia. During my free time, I would assemble aircrafts to help me feel less homesick.
"I also enjoyed crafting art jewelry. I saw one of my friends wearing an original necklace which I loved, so I started to study how to make jewelry and bought a starter kit. I made my first pendant with natural beads and gave it to my classmate on her birthday. I wasn't sure she would love it, but luckily she did! Many of my friends asked me to make some for them too!
"When I returned to Thailand, I started working in a manufacturing company thanks to my expertise with RC airplane. I hadn't even studied in this field; it all came from my childhood games with my brothers! After that, I got a job with a renowned graphics company, where I would spend almost all day and night working. I had earned a lot from working, but one day I began to realize that I was away from family, friends, and the things that I love. I would hardly talk with my parents and friends. Therefore, I chose to quit even though some people thought it wasn't a good decision to leave a job where I was earning more than most people my age. I did not know what to do next, but I needed to spend time with my family, have free time to go on holidays, eat together with family and friends, and do what I love: drawing and art jewelry.
"I had time to visit my relatives in Chiang Mai and I fell in love with the city. My relatives suggested I buy land next to them and build my own home, and I agreed immediately! With my parents' blessings, I moved there with my dog and built a one-bedroom house. I love the way of life here, I have more time and I enjoy looking after the vegetables I plant. I usually give some to my neighbors and when they cook them in curries, they let me have some in return. I have adapted well to the Chiang Mai way of life, and even my parents say they've noticed it has done me good to live here.
"Moving to Chiang Mai has given me the chance to work on things I prefer. I began to knit necklaces with unusual stones and rope. I taught myself how to crochet the candle rope, insert a beautiful stone and knit it into bracelet or necklace.
"I would send the finish pieces to my mother, she has experience in several crafts, and she would reply back with some advice on how to improve. One day I got a very good opportunity from my friend who gave me her area at the walking street market on Sundays to sell my necklaces. I was quite concerned because I had never sold at a market, but nevertheless, the response was better than expected!
"With my background in arts, my designs have evolved since then, blending thread colors, laces, and colored stone. Some days I sit and enjoy late-night knitting sessions because I can't wait to see how the necklace looks when finished. I have improved my knitting and crochet skills so I include other local materials such as clothes from the different hill tribe's which are embroidered with beautiful patterns.
"I've found such a favorable demand for my products that I've enlisted the help of a woman who has known me since I was little, as well as a that of a neighbor. Thanks to their help, I am able to design new products. All of this encouraged me to take part in continuing to grow so people can find out more of Thailand through me and my products. I hope you like them!""