Located in the foothills of Doi Suthep, our factory is located in a modern, four storey shophouse in the sleepy suburbs of Chiang Mai where modernity and tradition intersect.
As we approach the glass shophouse, a cool breeze blows and we’re greeted by the owner of the factory, Nathalie. She welcomes us into the brightly lit interior which displays her sketches and designs. Nathalie is in her early thirties, and is both a talented international designer and boss of a garment factory that aims to help fashion start-ups create quality pieces.
With large glass windows and a field behind the factory, the staff get ample daylight and a fresh breeze blowing through the windows. Tasks are neatly divided between the floors – the first floor is where Nathalie works with her clients. The second, a sampling area, and the third and fourth floor are for sewing and ironing respectively.
There are 25 full-time seamstresses at the factory and the youngest seamstress is just fresh out of school at 18 years old. They work from 8am – 5pm every Monday to Saturday and get 21 days of leave a year. According to Nathalie, dress-making is a dying trait in Thailand, and she pays all her staff above the minimum wage to retain talent. She also works with a vocational institute which aims to help Hmong girls who are part of the hill tribes in Thailand. The institute provides them with education and training so that they can integrate into the modern society after graduation. By offering them a stable job after they graduate, they can put their skills to good use and earn a decent income to sustain their families.
Nathalie has over 19 years of experience in the fashion industry, graduating as a fashion designer from the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp before working with designers Sonia Rykiel, John Galliano and Diane von Furstenburg. She subsequently set out to build her own fashion label, but faced many problems in manufacturing like quality control and poor timelines. Using her knowledge and experience, she decided to set up her own factory, and expanded into manufacturing for young fashion labels.