"To create my jewelry, I like to sit in the middle of the materials – colorful stones and pearls in many shapes… Nature is a reference for my designs."
"My name is Nareerat Tansuwansophon but you can call me Lek. I was born into a Catholic family in Trang province, in southern Thailand. My mother passed away after I was born. I am the youngest child of six siblings and have three brothers and two sisters. My family members are merchants. My house was next to the church so I did many activities at the church. My family believed in God, just as I do.
"In 1982, after I graduated from grade nine, I moved to Bangkok. There I was a secretarial major at the Convert of the Holy Infant Jesus School, where I studied for three years. Then I worked as a buyer at a foreign trading agency until 1992 when an enamel company asked me to work in their marketing department. I thought it was a good opportunity so I worked there for three years before I quit to get married.
"My hobby is origami, folding papers into many shapes. In 1996, my first daughter was born. I named her Ice. While I was pregnant, I spent all of my time doing origami. It made me get better and appreciate art. After I had some time off for being pregnant, I went back to work for another three years until I had cute twin sons in 2000. They are H and OAT. I quit working again when I had the twins and devoted all my time to them.
"When I moved to a new house about a year later, I was so bored. I wanted to have my own small business so I looked for products at the big Bangkok market. I liked several kinds of jewelry so I bought some of them to sell at my sister's shop. The feedback was great, so I decided to design my own jewelry in 2004.
"I prefer to design and craft the jewelry myself. I wanted to make something different from what you find in the market. So I bought a book about making jewelry and the processes. I started from the beginning. It was so hard before I finished and it took me long time to make the first piece. When I knew the basics and the process, I started to design by myself. I tried for long time until I got better. Finally, in September of 2005, I opened my own small shop.
"I have faith and believe in God, and I want to look after my three children so they grow up to be good people. I also want to make jewelry. At present, I live with my husband and our children, and I do my jewelry by myself.
"The greatest challenge in my life may not be exciting but it is challenging to me. It is making jewelry and presenting my ideas through my designs. One of my best memories is when the doctor told me that I was expecting twins. It was the best gift from God. And one more good memory is when I sold a necklace I named 'Green Silk Curtain' to my first customer. It was the first necklace I designed and crafted by hand.
"I love all of my work. I am satisfied and happy when I see my others appreciate my designs. This inspires me to make more beautiful jewelry.
"Now I am able to offer work to more than 30 women in my community, both on permanent and temporary basis. Some of these women were single when they started working with me, and now they have children so I let them take home some of the work and pay them extra. They seem happy with the way we work together, and that's the main reason for staying with me at the workshop.
"They are very skilled women who help me shape flowers, assemble the complicated designs, etc. They also help training those who come on a temporary basis. The women that join on temporary basis normally come here and then take the work home. For some of them, this is their main source of income and for others it's a way to earn a little bit extra to their usual jobs.
"There is an older women who is 60 and she works with me on temporary basis so I give her a relatively easier type of work which she can take home. She enjoys the work and we are happy to have her as part of our group of women working together to make each piece special.
"I've always been interested in handicrafts. When I saw handmade jewelry, it piqued my interest. Now, I feel happy when I touch the material – I find inspiration to create new works.
"To create my jewelry, I like to sit in the middle of the materials – colorful stones and pearls in many shapes. My inspiration tells me what kind of design to create or what kind of material to use. Nature is a reference for my designs.
"I would like people to know me as an artist and designer who creates handmade jewelry. To shoppers from all over the world, I'd like to say that there are still many quality artists waiting to be discovered."