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Artisan Organization: Kanjana

Country: Thailand

"Hello! My name is Kanjana Janphiratikul. I was born in Phrae (upper northern Thailand). I had to start working when I was young. I moved to Bangkok to work as a housekeeper for many years, but the cost of living was too high. I could support myself, but not my family.

"I moved to Chiang Mai, expecting to find a job while getting an informal education. I got a job in a silk shop, and the owner taught some handicrafts for packaging products. I guess that was the first time I began to learn about and like handicrafts.

"One day, I went to a jewelry shop that belonged to an older man. I brought some gemstones as I wanted to make a necklace, and I asked him if I could sit and watch him making his jewelry. He could see my passion, so he showed me every step in the process until I could do it myself, and he charged me only 20 baht (US $ 0.70). I wondered why he taught me everything but he said he used to be like me and had met some woman who showed him everything about how to thread for free. That woman told him to give this knowledge to anyone who had a passion or interest.

"I met my boyfriend while I was studying non-formal education in Chiang Mai. We are now married and have two sons. He also makes jewelry wholesale - mostly he cuts jade and sells it to a trader. I help him and study my threading skills at the same time.

"It took about three years to learn to make my products. I watched every process on the internet - many videos, many web pages from around the world. Sometimes when I could not understand a language, I would use Google Translate. Though it gave me some wrong words, I could still understand. It took a lot of trial and error until I could complete jewelry and improve my design.

"First I post my finished products on my social media website, so my friends and other people could see them and be interested in buying. I also had some dealers want to order and sell my products at the market fair in Bangkok. Now I have two assistants to help me and, if I get many orders, I also let some housewives around my village help and I pay them wages. I have a small workshop inside my house for working and teaching those women how to make my products.

"I like to use waxed cord and select gemstones. My friend in Bangkok helps me to find beautiful gemstones.

"In the future, I want to have a bigger workshop, and create a workshop for woven jewelry (necklaces and bracelets) with gemstones. Once my two sons are making their own living, my dream is to move to a suburb, live with my husband, and have a small gallery and shop selling my products.

"I hope if I have good sales with Novica I can provide my family and my assistants with a better living. If I see someone who appreciates my handmade products, it encourages me to make more designs and share my knowledge to make their life better.""