From London to Laos

Passa Paa began as a seed of an idea after countless travels through Laos, when Heather Smith first visited this mountainous, jungle covered land in 1999. After working on various textile related projects in Luang Prabang as well as managing a dynamic textile design studio in London UK, Heather once again packed her bags for Laos in 2010 and embarked on growing that creative seed. It was during a research trip to a remote Hmong village high up in the hills near the Eastern border Heather fell in love with traditions related to Hmong textiles. So many processes requiring so much knowledge and technique, from the production of hemp to the indigo dying of waxed batik to the endless colourful variations of the stitched embellishments. With a Western trained eye and a passion for ethnic traditional textiles, Heather saw the opportunity to mix the two worlds and develop textiles that could provide a sustainable market for the skills of the Hmong artisans. In 2016 Heather teamed up with her long time friend Hongkham Xiong ‘Pok’, a local Lao/Hmong entrepreneur and Hmong craft enthusiast, and together they have evolved Passa Paa into a thriving studio team of in-house makers where they work in collaboration with a number of Hmong families within Luang Prabang province. Passa Paa has become a local favourite within the community and have just completed their first large commission to provide art works for the bedrooms of Luang Prabang’s latest high end hotel. Over the years they have been recognised internationally with their products being sold by world renown organisations such as The British Museum in London, The De Young Museum in San Francisco and for the first time this year, Passa Paa will be exhibiting their innovative products in July 2017 at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.