Everyone from WEAVE and its partners are totally excited for tonight’s re-launching of the Fair Trade Shop. The WEAVE staff from Mae Sod have been busy for the past month redesigning the shop and the gallery. The shop has been painted in different shades of red earth-toned colors, while the gallery is a classic ecru that gives a stark contrast to the black frames of the life-size photos of women and children on the border.
The shop itself has been transformed into a classic boutique! Its colors have been transformed from plain white background walls and brown shelves into an autumn parade of persimmon and muted gold-colored walls that are accented by pin lights, brick and stone dyed- colored draperies, and wild ferns. The totally revamped shop looks like a boutique straight out of Manhattan Fifth Avenue! The handcrafted products that are made by women from the camps using back-strap looms stand so handsomely against these colors, textures, and atmosphere. Japheth Diones, our IGP consultant, has transported the entire environment of refugee camps and the natural materials used by the artisans from the camps themselves to the display windows. “I want the shop to be more than just a shop. When people come in, they will not only adore the products, but they will also learn where the products came from. The women who make IGP products are as equally important as the products themselves, which is why I wanted to bring the weaving experience from the camps to the shop. The layout of the shop depicts the weaving experience – from the natural dye process, to the looming of the thread, all the way up to the finished product. This way, the shop not only sells products but also educates customers.”
A crucial component of the shop’s re-launching is the multimedia presentation. For this, Ta, WEAVE’s overall designer and computer guy, is in full control. Some of Ta’s powerful photos of women and children in the camps, along with other photos, will be showcased in the gallery on the second floor, The collage of faces, hands, and eyes of women and children cast in picturesque scenery of majestic mountains on the Thai-Burma border bring to mind what IGP is all about: empowering women in their environment. Immediately, several senses are evoked and stories told by the photos. According to Dr. Jessie Manuta, one of the Board of Trustees of WEAVE, who traveled all the way from the Philippines to join this event, the photo of three women (taken by Ta) with wide smiles tells a story of labor, pride, and the culture of Karen unfettered by years of hardship and challenges in confinement inside the camps. What gives for the contentment on their faces in a land-locked confinement? Perhaps their faith? Perhaps their livelihood skills? Who knows, but Ta was able to register in images their stories, and ultimately IGP’s message and mission. The whole IGP project is presented in a powerful video produced by Ta and Sarah, our IGP volunteer, who poured sweat and blood into making the video.
The other staff of IGP as well as Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son are working and lending their hand to this whole event. Everyone is indeed excited, and this is all a labor of love. Not just for the organization, but for the women who have less in life but willing to give more for others.