It appears that your cart is currently empty
At RedGreen Rivers™, our products are not mass-produced, because we focus on quality and authenticity. We believe that artistic talent born from traditional indigenous designs can create sustainable communities.
Ying comes from a long line of batik experts; her skills have been passed down from generations of grandmothers. She married at 18, and has made and sold her batik textiles to support her six children. Since 2005 when her husband passed away, Ying has been the sole provider for her family. To make ends meet Ying also has a maize farm where she and other small farmers export their maize to neighboring countries. In the past, on an annual basis, she could earn up to $2,000 from her batik, and $2,250 from her maize farm. With this earning she has single handedly put all her children through college.
Today, Ying is a master batik artisan; among only a handful left. Ying is frequently invited to demonstrate her skills at handicraft fairs. She uses natural bee’s wax and indigo to make her batik textiles. She is able to replicate traditional designs, but also works with RedGreen Rivers to create new designs. Ying has passed on her skills to her two daughters, Taub and Ntxawm, both of whom graduated from college and returned home because they, too, see the value in carrying on the art of batik. Watch Ying's story.
Pang has been a silversmith for 22 years, making traditional HMong jewelry. Pang’s parents were very poor and didn’t allow her to continue her education; so she decided to learn the art of silversmithing from her three uncles who were all silversmiths. Three days after she got married, at the young age of 15 years old, she began making jewelry full time to support her family. During periods of high demand, Pang and her husband can make up to 8,000 baht per month ($244), but that does not happen regularly. To supplement their livelihood, they are also seasonal rice farmers.
Pang and her husband understood the importance of education, and returned to school as adults. Now both have graduated from high school. She has five children and she made sure all are college educated.
Manithao dropped out of school at the age of 15. Her parents could not support five children, and her teachers showed little interest in her education. Lacking support, she felt leaving school would lessen the stress on her parents. Her story is like that of many young women in Laos.
Fortunately, Manithao’s aunt re-enrolled her at another school a year later. Being a young HMong woman from a remote village meant she was not fluent in the official Lao language, and at 16 Manithao was placed in third grade. Taunted and teased by younger children, she did not quit. She persevered to become a successful student and leader. Eventually, she joined VivNcaug, a Hmong women’s group. There, she met other female college students who became her role model, and gave her motivation to further her education. With their support, she spent one year in Cambodia learning English.
Manithao’’s amazing journey is an inspiration for other HMong girls. She returned to her village and opened a small shop selling candy, clothes and household products and cakes. Manithao continues to make products for RedGreen Rivers such as the Hmong cloth balls or “pob,” we also call love balls. This supplemental income helps her operate her business.
MaiYa grew up in a small village on a picturesque hillside next to a two-lane highway surrounded by rice paddies where the jungle is her backyard. Her village is in the center of one of the most heavily bombed provinces in Laos by the US government during the Vietnam War.
MaiYa is especially talented with her hands. She makes a variety of handicrafts, including embroidery, reverse applique, and cross-stitching paaj ntaub. Today, she lives in Vang Vieng, one of the most visited places in Laos surrounded by limestone mountains, blue-green lagoons and rivers. When she is not at her rice paddies, orange orchard or chasing after her two young children, she is making embroidery. For RedGreen Rivers, she wraps our Peace Bangles with hemp and colorful silk and nylon threads. She hopes more people see the value of her artistry, skills and supports her handiwork.
Mao’s love for her people fueled her lifelong goal to spread HMong people’s unique practice and skills of hemp textile making. This was the motivation that inspired her to invest whatever resources and personal convictions she had in her weaving group. She started with one acre of hemp and expanded it to 500 acres. Mao says beyond financial gains, the weaving group is intentionally keeping the HMong ancestral practice alive.
In 1996, Queen Sirikit of Thailand invited Mao to join the Royal Project. Since then the hemp group has welcomed visitors from all over the world to have an authentic experience in her village and document the arduous art of hemp textile production. Mao’s pioneering leadership has turned Phop Phra into a well known region for cultivating hemp.
Inspired by her mother-in-law, a talented artisan, who lived to be over 100 years old, Mai (Maim) Vang and her husband founded this cooperative in 2001. Today, more than 150 members in nine small communities make their own hemp fabric and create quality handicrafts. In addition to generating income for women artisans, they offer classes teaching women and children traditional handicraft designs. These classes are taught by expert makers who are paid.
Mai says the art of hemp and batik making resides in only a handful of elderly women. This is why she wants to revive her people’s traditional craft with a new generation.
Additionally, she has seen first hand how women are empowered when they make their own income. She continues to help people in remote areas turn their traditional skills to support their livelihoods. Because of her gender justice and economic impact, in 2017, Mai was named one of Vietnam’s 50 most influential women by Forbes magazine at the Women’s Summit held in Vietnam.
Passa Paa, in Lao means the language of cloth. It was founded by long time friends, Pok, a HMong, born and raised in Luang Prabang and Heather, a British textile designer. They saw a need for HMong artisans and hemp farmers in Laos to find a market for their skills and raw materials. In 2012, they began researching more about traditional Hmong techniques along with hemp and cotton production. They combined Heather’s design background with Pok’s artisan upbringing to reproduce the HMong motifs in contemporary ways through the combination of screen print with applique and cross-stitch embroidery.
Passa Paa is known for its high quality products that are sought after by the expatriate community in Laos and international buyers. They offer a range of accessories, home decor and clothing and are designing new products annually. In 2022, Passa Paa was a recipient of the ASEAN Business Award.
ThongPua or “thooj puab” is the HMong word for a bucket or bag that one carries on their body. The founders of ThongPua, Rattana (Ntxawm) and Kampol (NtxhwPhaj Thoj), are college graduates who have a love for vintage textiles.
They say with each New Year, old or worn out articles of clothing are usually traded or sold for raw materials. Their thongpua are made from these pieces of recycled textiles that come from remote villages. They carefully select each piece with care and precision, then arrange and assemble them into a thongpua. This process ensures quality, uniqueness, utility, and visual appeal. In each thongpua, you can see the particular skill of the artist, ranging from appliqué, reverse appliqué, batik and other textile techniques, such as cross stitch and chain stitch. When you buy from ThongPua, you not only support their work, but you partake in the preservation of HMong traditional textiles, essentially keeping alive traditional art and combating mass produced, industrial, machine-made textiles. In each thongpua, Rattana and Kampol share a part of HMong culture and tradition with you and help you to appreciate the significance of paaj ntaub in HMong women’s lives.
TaiBaan, formerly Saoban, was started by PADETC, a Lao NGO, as a fair trade social business that works with traditional handicraft artisans to preserve and promote Lao village crafts, create employment opportunities for villagers - mostly women - and reduce poverty. TaiBaan means ‘village or a community of villages’ in the Lao language. It supports more than 15 village crafts groups of many ethnic communities across 10 provinces of Laos.
TaiBaan works both on improving the production and marketing of the Lao multi-ethnic handcrafts traditions by broadening its product range, product quality and securing domestic and foreign markets on behalf of rural artisan groups. Many of the artisans lived through the American War and Secret War of the 1960s, and experienced firsthand the upheaval of the revolution in 1975. In rural areas and among various ethnic groups, craft making provided a source of income and stability. When you buy from TaiBaan, you provide employment and training for the artisans, and the profits stay in the village communities.
Sua Teng and her family are Black HMong who migrated to Laos in the 1960’s from Vietnam. They are experts at batik and natural dyeing, using plants and roots foraged from the wilderness. Her family has been making hemp textiles for generations. However, it’s been only in the last five years that they started selling hemp. Sua is an impressive entrepreneur, probably because she has a degree in law yet could not find employment in that field. Her resourcefulness makes her the primary income earner supporting her whole family which includes her parents and extended relatives.
Because of the remote and mountainous area of her home city, it is challenging to reach her market. This is why, Sua uses social media to sell the colorful 6-10 meter rolls of hemp her family make and buy from villages in the north eastern province of Laos, bordering Vietnam. She uses her charm and multilingual skills to go live on social media to reach designers and businesses. She says her customers turn the textiles into trendy fashion wear which is in high demand in the mid to upper class of Thai society.
At the age of 8 Mang learned to batik HMong skirts from her parents. When she married at 16, she began teaching her husband’s family to batik. Her husband saw how hard she worked using the traditional tool (dlav/diav, which translates into spoon), and eventually developed metal molds in the same designs as traditional batik drawings. The metal molds made the batik process faster and more precise because instead of drawing every line and swirl, one could now dip the mold in wax and just stamp the pattern onto hemp or cotton cloth. It takes approximately one day to make three rolls of six meter cloth (not including the indigo dying process). Mang has been able to support her family by making batik fabrics, and she’s also been able to employ other family members. Watch Mang's story.
Bao Moua and her husband, Shoua Ying Thao, have been making jewelry since they were teenagers. For over 20 years, they’ve refined their craft carrying on the skills that have been passed down the family for at least three generations. Shoua Ying’s grandfather was recruited to work among a select group of silversmiths for the Royal Hilltribe Project founded by the King and Queen of Thailand. This history makes Shoua Ying feel proud of his family’s skills.
May Yia is a young tenacious business woman who has taken care of her family since she was a teenager. Watch May Yia's story.