Artisan Organization: Lalana
Country: Central America
"My name is Lalana Thawiaphiradimani and I was born Northern Thailand to a big family with ten brothers and sisters. My family was poor, but my parents worked hard to support us and taught me the value of hard work and contributing to my community. This influenced me when I became older and began to work.
"When I turned 18, I decided to leave home to seek better opportunities and start a career. It was a difficult period of adjustment because I was outside of my comfort zone, with only a little money to pay for the bus and food for a few days. I was lucky enough to quickly find a job as a maid. I earned very little but it was enough for me to begin saving.
"Once I had enough money to start my own venture, my mother introduced me to one of her friends from the Karen hill tribe who taught me about Karen silver jewelry. I fell in love with the craftsmanship, tradition and the story behind each piece.
"I've immersed myself in silver jewelry since 1986 and people tell me they love my designs. I currently work with more than 100 families, including Karen silversmiths, who help me create handcrafted jewelry. I'm proud to have helped create jobs for them to earn a better living and always thank them for their efforts. Our designs now include contemporary jewelry as well as macramé pieces with beads and silver. All of our jewelry is crafted by hand, and many of the silver beads show traditional Karen flower, fish and geometric motifs.
"I've learned that people have different tastes and this has challenged me to create a variety of designs ranging from modern to minimal to favorites for everyday use.""