Khun Pui our host and owner welcomed us and we talked business and fortunately, we understood each other’s challenges and were able to reach successful negotiations. This was extremely important to me as I wanted to create a good long term relationship with Pui. We found that we both have similar business philosophies of helping the community.
Like some areas of Australia, the Isaan region in Thailand is also affected by drought which in turn affects the growth of mulberry trees to feed the silkworms. This means that Khun Pui must travel to get the best quality silk. Everywhere in Thailand silk is expensive for this reason.
With business done we could relax and enjoy the surroundings. Pha Toomthong, it is like a community and we were shown to our more than comfortable rooms which Pui keeps for customers as us and for family members.
After settling in we took a look around and had an absolutely wonderful meal. We sat and talked more with Pui and listened as she spoke with emotion about her grandfather. Pui’s grandfather, Toomthong, was a head person in the village and set about to try and find employment for the villagers. He knew the women had weaving skills so he created a collective of weavers which had very limited success and then in the ’70s the Queen sent a delegation to find ways to help the small communities of Thailand. The Queen’s representative was so impressed with the work Toomthong was doing that they became part of the project and they formed a long term relationship with the Queen.
Khun Pui, as well as her shop, has exhibitions, shows and a shop at the airport as well as exporting to customers as myself worldwide. Khun Pui is proud of her products and her designs and quality, and everything is checked to meet her standards.
As you enter the complex of Pha Toomthong you see a well-maintained shine dedicated to Pui’s grandfather.
Further in you see many spaces dedicated to particular jobs. To the side, there are several airy covered workspaces which hum with looms, spinning wheels and chatter and there are special areas for cleaning the silk and dying the silk.
The area has been landscaped and gardens and well tended to. There are many small glass buildings including a kitchen and a library for family and workers. Pha Toomthong also has a small temple for family, friends and workers to come and worship. It was a special Buddha holiday and the family gave thanks for Buddha’s teaching.
The village itself survives mostly on the production of rice and once again due to drought conditions, the village faces challenges as it cannot survive on one industry alone. Pui has another business where she makes delicious snacks which are sold through King Power. We saw about a dozen or so people working here in the snack section. Pui said to me that many people in the community need work and wished that she could do more.
It was the mudmee silk that bought me back and I loved wandering around and communicating with the workers. The women smiled and laughed as we communicated and explained what they were doing. You could see on their faces that they enjoyed every minute of working there and enjoyed having someone watch, film and ask about their work.
There is a lot of work that goes into creating a mudmee scarf and I will go into this in a separate blog but I wanted to share something about my experience while I had a moment.
We had a wonderful time in Pui’s Pha Toomthong and she is definitely continuing her grandfather’s legacy.
I am so happy that we were able to create a mutually beneficial relationship for future business.