HOW PASSA PAA CAME TO BE
Long time friends, Pok (Hmong/Lao artisan) and Heather (British textile designer) saw a need for Hmong artisans and fabric producers in remote areas in Laos to find a market for their skills and raw materials. In 2012 Heather and Pok began researching more about traditional Hmong techniques hemp and cotton production in northern Laos. They began combining Heather’s design background with Pok’s artisan ideas to re-produce the Hmong motifs in contemporary ways through the combination of screen print with applique and cross-stitch embroidery.
OUR MISSION & VALUES
Passa Paa is a social enterprise that aims to link the Hmong artisan to the rest of the world. We do this by embedding Hmong textile patterns and skills into a product that is desirable in the modern market. We are committed to working within the Hmong/Lao artisan community by supporting handmade hemp and organic cotton production in Laos, Hmong sewing techniques, indigo dying and printing.
DESIGN, CREATIVITY AND PROCESS
Our textiles begin with looking at old Hmong textiles, we take elements of the traditional motif patterns and redraw them with the same hand drawn quality as the wax batik patterns, these designs then get turned into silk screens. We print fabrics such as linen, cotton, hemp and silk, and then we give the fabrics to Hmong artisans who sew applique in between the printed patterns. All our products are made to the highest quality in Luang Prabang, Laos by independent Hmong tailors.
We work to fair trade standards in Laos and we believe in providing sustainable jobs and promote value in all things handmade. Passa Paa is committed to supporting Hmong communities to practise their crafts and create beautiful textiles that are valued in the global and local community. We provide fair and empowering employment to Hmong women with at least 50% of our revenue going back to the artisans. Through our textile studio we have created a platform of opportunity for both Hmong women and men to create products and enable Hmong culture to not only survive but flourish both in Lao and abroad.
We care deeply about the environment and reducing our impact on it. This concern is addressed in our production practices, use of natural organic materials and in some cases the purpose of the accessories we produce - join us in the fight against single use plastic with our Market Bags, Bees Wax Wraps and Bamboo Straws!
Keeping traditional artisan skills going is core to our studio practise. We work together with the artisans to incorporate their techniques and motifs that have been passed down through their families. On the 1st floor of our store we display a selection of vintage traditional Hmong outfits to not only draw inspiration from but to pay homage to the rich Hmong textile culture. Visitors to our store are more than welcome to spend time studying these pieces and find out more from our team about the craftsmanship that goes into these pieces and the meanings behind the motifs.
Quality is extremely important to us. Each product is made by hand from start to finish and with each step we put in a lot of love and attention to detail. We keep our production local to Luang Prabang with the fabric elements being made in our studio and then at the homes of our artisans and then the product is put together by our tailor Mr. Chai and the team who he has personally trained.
“Design creates culture, culture shapes values, values determine the future”
— Robert Peters