Shop for beautiful, local handicrafts, produced by ethnic minority peoples in Northern Thailand, confident that your money is supporting a committed Fair Trade organisation.
What to experience ?
Thai Tribal Crafts is a registered Fair Trade Organization, which has worked for over 25 years to improve the livelihoods of Northern Thailand’s Akha, Hmong, Karen, Lahu, Lawa, Lisu and Mien tribal peoples. You can choose from a range of handmade crafts, based on traditional wisdom.
Mien men are very skilled in working with silver. Lahu are specialised in items from bamboo. Weavers are mostly Lahu and Karen, particularly women, who are skilled in back-strap loom weaving. Lisu, Hmong, Mien, Lahu and Akha people specialize in embroidery and patchwork.
Top recommendations include an eclectic mix of traditional tribal and contemporary products, such as bags, travel accessories, home living products, clothing, basketry and small accessories.
You can even sharpen up your tribal tunes with traditional musical instruments, including Mien and Karen drums, Lisu lute and flute, Karen harp and guitar, Lahu naw (a wind instrument) and Lahu and Akha bamboo mouth harps! There is also a unique range of handcrafted silver jewelery.
TTC even offer Fair Trade Tour programmes to meet and interact with craft producers. Guests will enjoy a warm welcome to small hilltribe villages, with respect, dignity and friendship in a family atmosphere, alongside a deeper understanding of the impact of Fair Trade in northern Thailand.
How does it help ?
Thai Tribal Crafts (TTC), established in 1973, by the Christian Service Foundation, aims to improve the quality of life of the tribal peoples of Northern Thailand. TTC is a certified member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). The company promises to “pay their producers the highest prices possible, and sell products at prices that are just adequate to meet expenses”. 25% of profits support producers’ development; 25% are used for community development through local churches and 50% for organisational development and business extension.
Traditionally, tribal peoples have supported their families through slash and burn agriculture, moving their villages every few years as old fields lost their fertility. The Thai Government now prohibits the felling of trees and clearing of hillside land. There are no new places to move on to.
Handicraft production supports families and revives local traditions which might otherwise have been forgotten. Apart from this, TTC’s Eco-Fair Trade tour program brings local producers more opportunities to sell their handicrafts and to generate additional income for each family.
TTC’s Design and Product Development (DPD) checks the quality of products and environmental effects, including threads for weaving, lining cloths for finished products etc. TTC promotes natural dye products and trains producers how to use environment friendly raw-materials.
TTC also have an 11 point gender policy, guaranteeing equal pay and opportunities for women, and encouraging women to work cooperatively and participate in decision making processes.