The ThaiCraft Association
The Story of ThaiCraft
ThaiCraft began in 1975 as Hilltribe Sales at the International Church of Bangkok. These volunteer-run events at International School Bangkok's former downtown campus operated until 1992. In August of that year the ThaiCraft Association became an independent development organisation, For the first year only, small start-up administration grants were received from Dutch (ICCO) and British (ODA/Oxfam) funding agencies. By retaining a small share of sales revenue, ThaiCraft soon became and has remained a financially self-sufficient organisation.
ThaiCraft Fairs are a Moveable Feast
The ThaiCraft Association began holding Sales at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center eight times a year. A small full-time staff supplemented by a host of incredible volunteers from the local and international communities in Bangkok held these Sales until September 1996, when The Landmark Hotel in Sukhumvit Road became the main venue. For one year, in late 2002 Sales were held at the Imperial Tara Hotel in Sukhumvit Soi 26.
In 2003, the ThaiCraft Sale became the“ThaiCraft Fair” and moved to the Ambassador Hotel. For six years Fairs grew in numbers of vendors and attendance of customers. ThaiCraft added information about the craft producers to enhance the customers’ shopping experience and to allow greater understanding of how crafts are made and the regions of Thailand where they originate.
ThaiCraft Fairs are currently held at the Jasmine City Building at the intersection of Sukhumvit Road and Soi 23. This is a location favored by both ThaiCraft and its customers because of the ease of transport to the venue and the open space that allows a comfortable atmosphere in which to examine products, talk to producers and observe craft demonstrations.
In order to present products to a wider audience, smaller Fairs are held from time to time at other venues, including the International School Bangkok (ISB) in Nonthaburi, at Bumrungrad Hospital’s annual Living In Bangkok event, at the Siam Society and at the International School of the Eastern Seaboard in Chonburi. ThaiCraft is always seeking other venue possibilities and we are happy to receive suggestions, whether it be at a school, international conference or in a new area.
ThaiCraft Forms a Limited Company to Expand and Develop the Market
ThaiCraft's export sales grew following a substantial devaluation of the Thai Baht, caused by the Asian financial crisis of 1997/8. In response, ThaiCraft restructured in 2000/1 to create a new limited company, ThaiCraft Fair Trade Company Limited, to expand both export and domestic sales opportunities. The company employs local staff and utilizes new informational technology for more efficient, improved customer service. ThaiCraft endeavors to continue strong growth by offering competitive prices for unusual, quality products.
Capacity Building and the ThaiCraft Artisan Groups
In the beginning, ThaiCraft partnered with 25 artisan groups from villages in Central, North and Northeast Thailand. Some Southern groups later joined us in 1995. Over the years, more than 80 groups have been involved, from remote hilltribe minorities in the North to Muslim fishing communities in the deep South; from city slum dwellers to rice-paddy farmers far off the beaten track. Small but valued grants came at times from the Ford Foundation and the Canada Fund to help strengthen producer capacity in villages and in training opportunities. Today, ThaiCraft's 70 partner groups come from all regions of Thailand. Their representatives meet our staff and volunteers and, just as importantly, each other at ThaiCraft Fairs and also they share experiences and learning at our periodic workshops and seminars.