Meet the team

 
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Hongkham Xiong (Pok) | Co-Founder

Pok is a Hmong lady who was born and lives in Luang Prabang, Laos. Like many Hmong women Pok learnt the arts of making textiles from her mother. Growing up surrounded by beautiful hand made clothing inspired Pok to learn other forms of textile making. Pok started to learn how to weave like the Lao people in her community and soon she was weaving and embroidering many pieces of cloth for her family and pieces to sell. It wasn’t long until Pok set up a stall in the Luang Prabang night market. It is here that she met Heather and they took the adventurous step of starting Passa Paa. Pok is a well known member of her community, she has 3 children of whom she has continued to teach Hmong language to.

 
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Heather Smith | Co-Founder

Heather first started coming to Laos in 1999. Making annual trips to learn about textiles and ethnic communities Heather was inspired to start a community based project that combined her skills and market knowledge. Heather is passionate about living cultures and finding a place in the world for traditional art forms.

 
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Sousadet Vilaysing (Got) | Studio & Production Manager

Got joined the team as production assistant in 2015 as one of the first employees at Passa Paa. Over the years she has become an integral part of the team and has grown to become studio and production manager. Handling all the production and getting the creative cogs turning in the studio her favourite aspect of her job is choosing colour combinations for our panel scarves and appliqued patterns. Got also loves the design challenges that go into creating large art works for commissioned projects and working as a team between the product designers and the printers. Having moved from her family’s hillside village to follow her creative ambitions Got regularly heads back to the mountains to enjoy nature, fishing and catching the misty mountain sunrises!

 
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Euay Bao | Resident Artisan Stitcher

Euay Bao joined the studio as a resident stitch artisan in late 2016. She moved to Luang Prabang just over 3 years ago from her family village in Sam Neua, in the north east of Laos. Sam Neua is a mountainous area towards the boarder of Vietnam and with many Hmong communities living there. Euay Bao started sewing 20 years ago, beginning with her traditional wedding outfit no less! Since then she hasn’t looked back and moved on to embroidering traditional clothes for her daughters.

 
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Ai | Head Printer

Ai has been with Passa Paa from the beginning back in 2012. He joined Pok and Heather in the studio and together they endeavoured to set up the print side of the studio, Ai having no previous experience before. Today Ai manages the printing team training all aspects from how to work with all the different fabrics, to lining up the screens for a seamless as possible repeat print. He lives on the outskirts of Luang Prabang with his wife who is one of the master weavers at the Ock Pop Tok weaving centre. Ai particularly enjoys printing with indigo dye, a technique he helped to develop with Heather at the studio.

 

Chai & Laa | Tailors

We love working with Chai and his wife Laa, a husband and wife team. We've worked with them from the outset. Chai works for the police office most days a week, but years ago he approached Passa Paa after seeing our industrial sewing machine gathering dust and asked if he could borrow it. He wanted to master a skill he could pass on to his family, so he took our machine home along with some leather and fabric off cuts and after a few days he had taught himself to sew. For those of you who sew with leather will know that it is a skill of its own. Over some weeks sampling with Heather and studying tutorials online he taught himself how to make all our bags and wallets. We are now able to assemble all our products locally, which to begin with just wasn't possible in Laos as no one knew how to sew with leather. Chai and Laa have now trained many of their extended family, they oversee their work whilst working on samples of new designs we come up with, a real family team effort! They live on the outskirts of Luang Prabang with their 3 boisterous sons!