Artisan Profile: The Cooperative Behind our Stuffed Toys

Posted July 28, 2017 by Nora Handsher

Let’s address the elephant in the room – our stuffed elephant, that is. These adorable characters come in Mama and Baby sizes (and we also offer goats, complete with chin hairs!) in perfectly squishy proportions and colored with natural dyes, all of which make them our go-to gift for any baby shower or single-digit birthday.

But this story doesn’t stop at a cute exterior. Like all of our products, these plush toys have a history. It begins in Laos, where a collective of artisans was founded on the principles of fair trade, economic advancement, and traditional weaving. The collective gives village weavers (predominantly women) the ability to earn a sustainable livelihood for their families and communities, supporting their independence, growth, and well-being.

Using high quality and locally sourced materials, the collective works with various groups in Laos to produce pieces utilizing the techniques of traditional weaving that have been passed down through generations. Our elephants and goats are made by the Tai Lue people, who are known for their elephants and their cotton. Elephants are a core part of their culture, and are celebrated every February with a festival in their honor. The goats in our collection are also made by the same group, and represent the blessing and fortune of the Year of the Goat in the Chinese zodiac.

Take a peek at the artisans behind our cuddly elephants and goats.

A weaver in the cooperative weaves on a traditional loom. The creation of the textile is the first step in the process of making our stuffed animal collection.

This is a workroom with traditional looms at the cooperative headquarters in Laos.

All of the dyes used are 100% natural, resulting in gorgeous colors (safe for baby!).

After the yarn is dyed and dried, it is spun onto spools for the looms.

The artisans, who are mostly women from small villages, weave in traditional processes passed down through generations.

They create textiles in vibrant hues and intricate traditional patterns that are specific to regional groups.

Here’s another example of the beautiful textiles from the region.

Our troop of toys – Mama and baby elephants and our goat (complete with chin hairs!).

Ready to take one of our plush toys home?

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