It's hard to imagine the journey one bag takes before it arrives at your home. Starting with the person who collected the seagrass to the artist who weaved the pattern. But when it comes to Sea & Grass bags, the trail stretches beyond the weavers' hands into Thai history.
For hundreds of years, traditional Thai society traded handmade goods and products back and forth as the foundation for a healthy economy. This tradition continues with skilled artisans who craft each Sea & Grass tote with learned perfection passed on from one generation to the next.
The story behind who are the Sea & Grass bag weavers is one of Thai culture, nature, and love. All of which, we hope, becomes infused into every bag our weavers create.
The Journey Begins with Thai Artistic Culture
Thailand has 76 provinces that encompass a slice of the earth that resemble an elephant's head to some people. Each region has a rich cultural and artistic heritage with its roots in a variety of handmade goods.
Top of the Elephant’s Head
In Northern Thailand, hill-tribe minorities specialize in intricate handicrafts made of materials harvested from nature. The materials used are as diverse as wood, ceramics, bamboo, and cotton. Wood becomes transformed into rustic teak furniture or detailed wooden carvings, and hands weave bamboo into lamps or cushions.
Travel to Northeastern Thailand
For as long as anyone can remember, I-SAN or Northeastern Thailand symbolizes Thai silk. Lai Khid and Phrae Wa silks are the most well-known and usually made in the tie-dyed mudmee designs.
In Thailand, tradition dictates that each person has two sets of clothes— one for work and another made of silk for special occasions. Weavers also craft gorgeous silk into reed mats, baskets, and pillows.
Move to Central Thailand
Reaching the heart of Thailand may also mean enjoying artistic designs made of bamboo. The bamboo weavings and techniques needed to craft everything from bowls to baskets take years to master and passed on from one artisan to another.
But don't mistake tradition with something seen only in a museum. The modern seagrass twist uses the material for chic bags and totes, perfect for sun-kissed Thai beaches or a nightclub in your hometown.
Head East Down the Elephant's Trunk
Eastern Thailand has a rich tradition weaving rattan and bamboo fabrics, as well as mudmee fabrics. The area also delights taste buds with fresh tropical fruits or packaged delights encompassing local fruity flavors—perfect mementos to gift family and friends with after visiting the land of the smiles.
Reach the Smooth Tip of Thailand
Southern Thailand is world-famous for its white sandy beaches and hairy karsts. Weavers also craft Batik fabrics and hand-carved wood designs. The local materials used for weaving are lipao (vine-like ferns), bulrush (grass-like reeds), and panan pandanus (palm-like leaves), all of which can be turned into fashion accessories.
The Journey Continues with OTOP
In an effort to further support local artisans and Thai tradition, One Tambon One Product (OTOP) came to life. "Tambon" means sub-district, and each tambon has a single product that signifies a slice of Thai life, tradition, and culture. OTOP promotes artistic talent in an entrepreneurial partnership with selected Thai tambons.
The inspiration for OTOP comes from One Village One Product (OVOP) in Japan. As OVOP does, OTOP works with local communities to boost product and marketing for each Thai product, whether it’s a fashion accessory, woven handicraft, or silk attire. It selects the best one for local and international marketing to transport Thai artistry at home and abroad.
Sea & Grass from Pam Corbett on Vimeo.
The Journey Meets Sea & Grass Weavers
The Sea & Grass weavers are as much a part of Thailand as the seagrass found on its shores. The weavers are independent artisans from various smaller villages that struggle to earn money compared to those who live in wealthier, bigger cities.
Typically, villagers earn money by working the rice fields or picking fruits and vegetables. However, this income may not be enough to sustain their hopes and dreams, let alone a family. Thanks to OTOP, village weavers weave seagrass to form many local products, including Sea & Grass bags and totes as a means to earn extra income.
Areeya Scholarship Fund
As a commitment to giving back to the weavers, Sea & Grass created the Areeya Scholarship Fund. A portion of the Sea & Grass profits benefit the weavers' children by helping them attend school. No parent should have to choose between their child's schooling or working to support their family.
Thai Culture, Nature & Love
Each Sea & Grass bag brings the woven goodness of Thail culture, nature, and love. In the words of a Thai weaver, "When we started weaving, it was just a part-time job that made extra income from the off months of rice farming. As the orders grew, it became the main source of income for our family."
Sea & Grass is proud to continue the Thai artistic heritage by supporting local artists and communities. When your bag arrives, know that its seagrass roots extend into Thai history and transformed by the weaver's hands. Now, the bag's journey continues with you.
Amber Roshay is a freelance marketing writer who specializes in health, education, and beauty. She's been featured on Business Insider, Motherly, The Write Life, and more. When she's not writing content, she's enjoying the beach with her family in San Diego