Meet Pii Nee, Our Yoga Mat Bag Master

June 30, 2014

The artisans we work with are really the lifeblood of Global Groove Life.

We really cherish the opportunities we have in working with them - and it’s a privilege to share their stories with you. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be spotlighting these extraordinary talents here on the GGL blog.

Our yoga mat bags are a staple piece of the Global Groove Life collection, and just like all the other products, are produced to Fair Trade standards. These bags are created by a small team of women in northern Thailand, led by the formidable Pii Nee. 

 

In Thailand, age doesn’t have the complex connotations that it does in the West.

When we first arrived, it was hard not be offended when the first thing everyone asks you was how old you are! But over time we realised that they weren’t implying that we were really old… they were just trying to work out how best to communicate with us.

If a woman is older than you, even by a day or two, you would refer to them as Pii. This is a term of respect and deference to their greater world experience and the wisdom that goes with it. If you meet a woman who is younger, you would refer to her as Nong. This is not derogatory at all, simply an acknowledgment that she is younger than you and possibly still has a thing or two to learn.

Nee had first gone to work in a factory in Bangkok with her mother when she was still small. She left school at 16 to do a seamstress course, and then went to work for a factory producing clothes for export.

 

Paid as little as 70 baht per day - or about $2 - life was a struggle.

Things didn’t get better when she got married, either. Her husband, an alcoholic, has contributed nothing to their finances or the education of their children.

We first met Nee when she was working for a Canadian organisation. She had worked her way up to become their master tailor, and her skill and resourcefulness made her a natural teacher for the younger girls, or ‘Nong’. Despite the hard work Nee and her team put in, the organisation they worked for collapsed suddenly and they all had to scramble to find more work.

When we approached Nee to work for GGL, she was skeptical - and naturally so, after everything she had already been through.

She had invested so much time and energy into the previous business that she doubted we were sincere in saying that she would be a valuable asset to our business.

But after a couple of conversations and a few little projects to test the waters, Nee came around.

 

And with her came a force that we rarely see. Her determination to shape her world is just amazing. She has built a team of young seamstresses around her, and now our yoga bags are produced to a world-class standard. 

Her Nong seamstresses are extremely talented young women. Nee cherishes her Pii status with them, helping them to develop their already exceptional skills and opening them up to greater opportunities through Fair Trade projects. Together they are a very creative team, and they’ve become an integral part of the Global Groove Life family. 

Nee adores traditional Thai design, like these Siam Tribal and Karen Sage yoga mat bags, and is always giving us suggestions for new designs, materials and styles. She flies through our orders, and always goes on to experiment with the scrap materials left over. She makes one-off purses and patches to sell in the markets and gets a lot of satisfaction from this creative outlet.

This week, we’re running a competition to promote the hard work of Pii Nee and her Nong team.

Check out all the yoga mat bags here and pick out your favourite. To enter, make sure you’ve liked our Facebook page.

‘Like’ the promotion post for one entry, tag a friend or tell us which bag is your favourite for two entries, share it for three entries, or go for broke and do all three for five entries. We will be drawing the competition this Friday (July 4th), so make sure you get your entries in today!

Greg, Gina & the team at Global Groove Life.

 





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