We're set up in Chiang Mai!
It’s happening. Our second production site is now up and running just outside of Chiang Mai in Thailand. We signed the official papers in February, started training in May and recruited an exceptional team of 10 women. Now that our first silk products are being imported from Chiang Mai we thought it was time for an update:
Aligned with our mission, we only go where the most luxurious materials in the world meet the highest rates of poverty related crime for women.
The Princess, The Ministry and Carcel.
We got invited to Thailand back in 2017 by the Department of Corrections and the Ministry of Justice. Veronica and Kristina spent one month visiting prisons across the country, meeting with potential partners and politicians and exploring the silk road in Isaan province. When they returned they were completely in love with the wonderful traditions of Thai silk and amazed by the progressive political will to pioneer new projects that could empower women in prison.
After months of sending draft agreements back and forth, Veronica went to Bangkok and signed the formal agreement with the Thai Ministry of Justice and the Kamlangjai Project (The Inspire Project) which is initiated by the HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha. The Princess is UN Goodwill Ambassador and co-writer on the ‘UN Bangkok Rules’ that improves the rights of women in prison and her commitment to our work has opened many doors. We are in fact very proud that our initiative is partnered by top decision makers in Thailand.
How we work
We own the entire production ourselves. We train, educate and employ. We pay the women and set the standards for the production environment and the final products. Since training started in May, our assistant designer Tine Tourell has been living in Chiang Mai, working inside every day and earning her cool title as Dear Teacher. After some intense months she’s managed to get our first prototypes on the machines and we’re all extremely excited.
As we’ve learned from our experience in Cusco, Peru, this is a great way to create a compatible work environment where everyone is eager to learn and develop their skills. They all are super sewers by now. They stitch and embroider like the wind and they are extremely dedicated. They don’t work with unclear instructions and they expect measurements on the nanometer. We’ve quickly gotten to know all of the women and they’ve shared their stories with us.
Like in Peru, each of the styles out of Thailand carries the name of the women who made it. For them to feel proud of the products getting sold globally. For the silk styles, the women has either their name embroidered in Thai or labeled inside every product they make. We’re so proud of our team and we can’t wait to share the work they do.
The women work 5 days a week, 6 hours a day and the rest of the day is spend with daily routines, meals, showering and some free time. The women always work together as a team to finish different products.
The prison we work with is one of ten in Thailand piloting the “Bangkok Rules”, which is a new set of guidelines for the treatment of female prisoners adapted by the United Nations’ General Assembly in 2010. We work closely together with Thailand’s Ministry of Justice, the prison direction and Kamlangjai to change and improve nationwide conditions for women in prison. We also owe a huge gratitude towards the IVL foundation who supported the training programme financially and who has been a great support throughout our first 6 months setting up our production in Chiang Mai.
We pay the women directly and separate their salary from the fee we pay to the prison for the workspace utilities. We believe that working inside prison should be equal to working on the outside. We therefore operate with country-specific payment schemes that best fit conditions at hand, in order to ensure that each woman in our production is guaranteed the local living wage of the country we operate in as a minimum, recommended by the ILO.