For many Thai artisans, successful partnering with NOVICA encompasses opening new windows of opportunity, engaging with buying customers, and exposure to a worldwide market.
She tells us, “Being sole provider for my 2 kids would be almost impossible without my partnering with NOVICA and their expertise in promoting and advertising my products. Balancing home responsibilities, cooking, cleaning, and taxiing my kids to school and back is hard being alone and single. Then there’s the pressure of earning money to pay for everything! NOVICA is my solution!”
After traveling about 100 kilometers (about 65 miles) from my home in Chiangmai, I arrive in the small village of Hang Chat, located close to the forested mountains of Khunthan National Park. Ushered into their humble country home, Sareeyakarn introduces me to her two children; Baibua, a lovely 8th grader with excellent English and comprehension, and Namdon, an energetic 4th grader who loves to keep his two thumbs connected to his favorite online game. Baibua, already a talented artist, loves drawing cartoon characters, while Namdon, according to his mother, has no artistic talents whatsoever!
Later, I’m introduced to the matriarch of this family unit, Sareeyakarn’s mother, herself a skilled seamstress able to design and sew women’s clothing simply by looking at a picture and without the use of a paper pattern. Her skill for envisioning a beautiful, finished product was obviously inherited by Sareeyakarn.
Moving from Chiangmai, a major, modern city in north Thailand, to a small family farm and village of less than 500 inhabitants would seem a major adjustment. For this tight-knit family of three, it was easy. Getting out of the big city with its bright lights, loud, crowded streets and smog was literally a breath of fresh country air.
“I love watching the sun come up through the windows on the workshop side of my home, and then seeing it set, as evening shadows fall across our farm and the river flowing below.”
Setting aside her vocation as a medical equipment technician to follow her passion for creating artistic jewelry, while intimidating, was like slipping a hand into a well-fit glove. Sareeyakarn’s bohemian style designs, which use natural colors, Indian stones, colorful beads, intertwined leather, and wax-cords, reflect her ornate talent. A leisurely stroll through her family farm, observing the sunlight on a crushed leaf, or how the shadows fall upon a bruised flower petal, elicits much inspiration for her many designs and creations. “Bohemian Harmony” and “Cosmic Paradise,” being two popular examples of her creative talent of melding together colorful elements and artistic style.
Asking whether she feels she has a talent for seeing what others cannot see, she replies, “Yes, I do! I love seeing something of beauty in someone else’s cast-offs or finding a pattern of artistry in something broken or crushed. I love seeing the transformation of colors within nature as seasons change throughout the year. It impresses upon me how nature brings such inspiration and beauty.”
Sareeyakarn is not only a very experienced, jewelry expert, but her artistic abilities with pencil-drawn portraits are impressive. Her drawings of the King of Thailand and other famous Thai personalities show her good eye for details, use of shading, and other refinements.
How often do you come up with new designs and products? “Weekly! Out of my normal day of production, at least 4 hours a day I’m working on new designs and finish at least 4-5 new designs each week. Being so close to nature, to the quietness of the country and its solitude, inspiration comes so easily.”
As a parent and an artist, how important is it to you to pass on your artistic passion to Baibua and Namdon?
“I want them to see what I do and have an interest in what I do, but yet be encouraged to walk their own path. They need to develop their own skills and passions as they grow and mature, and it may not be exactly what I’m doing right now.”
With obvious pride, Sareeyakarn informs me of the scholarship Baibua has been awarded to visit the U.S. during October for a three-week cultural exchange program sponsored by Engenius International. All financially possible with support from NOVICA’s Artisan Micro-Credit Program.
“NOVICA has enabled me to earn an income substantial enough to work from the comfort of my home, create unique jewelry products, and care for my 2 children. To be able to do what I love, and support my kids is awesome!”
Interview with Sareeyakarn conducted by Walter Nigh. 2018
To view Sareeyakarn’s entire collection of jewelry artistry, please look here.