Our supplier partners: Samorn Sanixay
October 29, 2013 9:47 am
By Sarah Stone
Welcome to a new feature of our blog where we profile our supplier partners – the people who bring you our beautiful range of products and at the same time contribute to some amazing humanitarian causes. We hope you’re inspired!
Samorn Sanixay established Eastern Weft, a weaving house in Vientiane, Laos, to create beautiful hand woven textiles and provide a income for young Laotians who would otherwise be living in poverty and destitution.
Samorn was born in Laos but grew up in Australia. “I was aware of my good fortune and privilege to live in a country that valued education and equality for women,” says Samorn. “My parents encouraged me to help the local community and I spent many hours volunteering with foster children, the homeless and HIV sufferers as a teenager.”
As an adult, Samorn longed to reconnect with her Laotian heritage and visited the country as a volunteer with UNICEF. There Samorn met master weaver Kaisy Sophabmixay, who instructed her in traditional weaving techniques. It was then that Samorn had the idea of establishing a modern weaving house in Laos, one that stood apart from traditional weavers whose textiles were not appealing to Western tastes – and one that could create career opportunities for disadvantaged local women.
Using her life savings, Samorn built a property in Laos to act as weaving production centre, and invited local girls to join the venture. “We had just four girls brave enough in the beginning, many were scared of exploitation. In that first year, 2005, I brought 60 pieces to Australia and quickly sold out. The money was sent back to the girls, who often distribute it amongst their family to help feed, clothe and educate younger siblings living in regional villages.”
Weavers working for Eastern Weft have included former sex workers who have been dumped at the border between Thailand and Laos when they become too old for customers’ tastes as well as many other disadvantaged and neglected women and orphans. Samorn and Kaisy provide these young women with employment as weavers, giving them a promising new future.
Combining Kaisy’s weaving skills with Samorn’s understanding of Western tastes, Eastern Weft’s stunning range blends contemporary design with traditional techniques, all available here at Stepping Stones Collections.
Read more about the amazing crafts and the people who produce them, and keep up to date with changes in our product range in our blog