Among NGOs producing and protecting the silk industry in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, Ock Pop Tok takes a particular role. Ock Pop Tok not only protect and nurture the traditional way to weave textiles and produce fabrics but also its philosophy is to empower women through their traditional skills and to provide an opportunity for professional and social development.
The well-being of the artisans employed in the Living Crafts Centre, the main production centre of the NGO. Ock Pop Tok is social enterprise and operates on a plat form of fair trade. “These are not only sweet words. To operate on a fair trade basis means that we pay fair wages to our artisans, three times higher on average than in normal places. We also want to turn women into a driving force for their communities”, explains Katie Malloy, Senior Marketing Manager for the NGO.
Ock Pop Tok was created in 2000 by Englishwoman Joana Smith and Laotian Veomanee Douangdala and has since grown to be one of the most recognized textile and artisan institution in all of Laos and Southeast Asia. The NGO has been recognized in 2014 by winning the Responsible Tourism Awards by Wild Asia, which promotes responsible tourism.
From early days, Ock Pop Tok realized that the best way to protect traditional textiles and preserve the beauty of their production with natural raw material was to create value to the production. It was necessary to adapt the product to a modern taste. Ock Pop Tok two shops and Living Crafts Centre show today the diversity of the production, from scarfs to sarong, from table cloths to shirts and cushions. Exquisite patterns, shades of various colours – all produced naturally through ancestral methods- are the best testimony of Ock Pop Tok philosophy.
For travellers with a keen interest to the art of weaving, the NGO organizes regular weaving and handicraft classes. From half-a-day to a two-day classes, visitors to the Living Crafts Centre will have the possibility to create their own Hmong batik, their silk or cotton scarf, learn how to use natural dyes or also to create placemats made of local bamboos. The Heritage Crafts Centre also provide four guest rooms open to anyone as well as a café offering sweeping views over the Mekong River.