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Creating stunning fashion accessories from bamboo scraps

While most of us would only see bamboo scraps, one enterprising Vientiane woman has used them to make fashion accessories such as handbags which are now even being exported.
The 62-year-old entrepreneur, Ms Bounmi Phanthaned, from Thongtoum village in Chanthabouly district, is quite rightly proud of her bags which are growing in popularity with customers every year and generating more income for her family.
Ms Bounmi said she began a furniture business back in 1999 and began to wonder what she could do with the bamboo scraps that were left over.

Ms Bounmi proudly shows one of her bags.

In a spark of inspiration she used them to make handbags and added other creative touches such as Lao silk and cotton.
She experimented and began to exhibit her new products to customers while selling her furniture at various trade fairs.
Since then the handmade bags have attracted much interest, especially foreigners, because they are original, modern, all natural and have a distinctive Lao identity with many being purchased as souvenirs.
The response from customers has been great with the bags being mainly sold at trade fairs.
She’s also sold more than 500 bags to foreign customers, mostly from Japan and Australia, who are particularly interested in her unique creations.
Government officials too have bought more than 100 bags as gifts for VIPs at high level meetings.
Her bags range in price from a humble 10,000 kip to 500,000 kip with many sizes and styles available to suit all customers.
Ms Bounmi also makes special bamboo bags decorated with Lao silver as well as those made completely from the precious metal with prices reflecting the luxury nature of the items.
She makes the bags with her family and they share ideas on the designs and this has helped to make more appealing creations.
About 90 percent of the bags are handmade with only 10 percent produced with the aid of machines to sew Lao silk and cotton onto the bags, something that cannot easily be done by hand.
The family turns out more than 30 bags a day and sold 10-15 bags each day at the recent Lao-ITECC handicraft fair.
In addition, they make tissue box covers, purses, wallets, stationery boxes and small coin bags which are all made from scraps of bamboo.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update May 20, 2017)


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