"I'm happy with my work. I can share my skills and income with friends at church, most of whom are hill tribe people that I see every Sunday… I have taught hundreds of them to thread beads."
"I was born in Chiang Mai under the full moon on the evening of the day we celebrate Loy Krathong, a traditional Thai festival in November.
"As a child, I lived in the country and attended a temple school. These schools are run by monks and are free of charge. My mother is a homemaker and my father was an artist who drew and painted on temple walls in our village and nearby. Most of them were small temples. I liked to go with my father to watch at him work. Most of his drawings told the story of Buddha, or tales from Thai literature.
After completing high school, I attended a university and majored in Japanese. It was not my actual interest. I simply followed my friends and, at that time, I didn't have any particular preference.
"At the university, I met my boyfriend, who is now my husband. His mother crafted fine jewelry and his brother made fashion jewelry to sell at the Night Bazaar. They taught me how to make a necklace and also gave me the opportunity to sell them. I started with tiny ones, which I sold to earn a little extra income while studying. This helped my parents with the expenses of my schooling.
"Unfortunately, our main customers were teens and 'tweens, who tend to buy less expensive designs. Mine were too pricey for them. So I thought of changing my gemstone jewelry for wooden beads, which were more affordable. Friends suggested I sell my work at street markets but I wanted to focus on school.
"After graduation, I began to take my jewelry crafting seriously. My mother-in-law and my husband's older brother were very kind. They provided me with materials on credit. I started offering my designs at a small street market near my home. I'd arrange my first four designs on a white cloth, and work at crafting more jewelry while I waited for shoppers.
"One day, a foreign customer came to me and carefully looked over my designs. Then he gave me his business card and asked me to show him more designs at his hotel the next day. He was really interested in my necklaces.
"I went to the hotel with a small selection of necklaces in a cookie box. He liked all of them and said I used pretty color combinations. I think I must have learned and absorbed artistic ideas from my father when I went with him to work. That day, I was very happy because the gentleman ordered several thousands of bahts-worth of necklaces. I almost cried with joy!
"My friends always asked why I didn't work in a company with a certain salary and better work conditions because, as an artisan, I had to wait in the sun for shoppers with no guaranteed income. But now I've proved that what I love to do can give me a successful life. And from that day on, I was encouraged to make more designs.
"When my husband's older brother moved to Bangkok, I took over his place at the Night Bazaar, and also offer my designs in a hotel gift shop. At the moment, I am interested in pearls. The pearl itself is very attractive because it is derived from nature. They never have exactly the same appearance and beauty.
"Today, I'm happy with my work. I can share my skills and income with friends at church, most of whom are hill tribe people that I see every Sunday. This is the day to worship God and share our knowledge. I have taught hundreds of them to thread beads. When I have an order, they have jobs and earn an income.
"I am very grateful to God who led me to a good career, good friends and shoppers to buy my designs. I sincerely hope you will enjoy my jewelry."