While employment opportunities in Thai villages are extremely limited, the people place a high value on self-sufficiency. For centuries, rural Thai people have worked an agricultural lifestyle, raising food for themselves and their families, with a little bit of trade.
In an agricultural economy, many goods are handmade, and a culture of artisans - particularly women - grew up alongside the rice and produce farmers. The environment that sustains them inspires the designs they create, elegant flora flowing into elaborate, lyrical patterns.
Sassy Thai captures this ancient tradition in contemporary custom clothing. Known for our unique embellished denim collection, Sassy Thai brings the handcrafted arts to jeans, jackets, skirts and tops.
Each item is custom-made upon order. A courier takes the basic, disassembled garment to one or more artists, working in their homes in rural Thai villages. Each artist and his/her family have a specialty - embroidery, beading, soutache or other craft. So, several artists may work on any one garment as it travels from home to home on the back of a motorbike.
Sassy Thai is a very pure form of fair trade. Our workers are compensated as artists, earning a fair price for each piece they create. We work directly with the artist - there is no big factory, no quotas to meet and a substantial part of the earnings goes directly to the artist. Niya, our head embroiderer, has been working with Sassy Thai since 2003. She says her job meets her needs and fulfills her spirit.
"I love to work from home so I could take care of my kids and house work. I do not have high education, but this work allows me to make more money when I would like to create more pieces. It is the work I'm doing from my heart. When I finished a piece of beautiful design, I'm very happy and felt rewarded," Niya said.
Over our eight-year history, we have formed very close relationships with our artists. One worker has earned enough to send her daughter to college, and the daughter now also works with us, bringing her computer skills to our operations in Thailand.
"It's a very personal business," Sassy Thai manager Grace Leelamanee says. "We have been able to bring our artisans steady work, paying good wages, and it has changed their lives while fulfilling their wishes to be free, independent artists."
Titima Schwaerzel, founder and chief design officer for Sassy Thai says our clothing helps both the wearer and the worker.
"There are less expensive ways to make clothes - but that's not what my business is all about," said Ms. Schwarzel. "The goal of our business is to preserve Thai handcrafted artisans, and to bring fair wages and honest and consistent work to people in Thailand's villages by creating beautiful and unique clothing for an exclusive clientele in America and other parts of the world. It's a solid and healthy connection that feeds the spirits of the women who create Sassy Thai clothing - and of the women who proudly wear it."