The TAEC Boutique, a branch of the TAEC Museum Shop located on the main street in Luang Prabang, showcases original jewellery, accessories, clothing, and textiles made in Laos, and features the exclusive Heirloom Collection.
Purchases from all TAEC shops support livelihoods based on traditional skills for rural ethnic minorities in Laos. Currently, TAEC works with over 600 producers, primarily women, in about 30 different villages, from the far north to the very south of the country.
Following our fair trade philosophy, our handicraft producers retain an average of 50% of the sale price. TAEC also provides no-interest loans, free training, and market information to our artisans.
The Story of the Heirloom Collection
The very finest examples of craftsmanship can be found in our Heirloom Collection.
In the past, women embroidered and wove to produce clothing for their families, as temple offerings, and for their important bridal trousseau. Men wove baskets to carry and winnow rice, and carved wood to decorate elaborate funeral tombs. These crafts served a purpose in the community and held cultural significance.
As factory-produced merchandise replaces the need for handmade goods, traditional handicraft knowledge may be lost. Clothes, household furnishing, and tools can now be bought in markets. Young women and men are moving away, going to school, and getting jobs in towns. They have limited time for, and less interest in, pursuing the painstaking work that many crafts require to master.
TAEC recognized that in villages, most women have given up the creation of detailed, heritage-quality pieces for their family or community in favour of simple products for the market. Recent demand for Lao handicrafts from tourists and export markets means that some local products have achieved value outside of their communities. This has allowed women to earn income for their families from the sales of textiles, although the greatest demand is for inexpensive, standardised pieces, such as imitation-silk scarves.
TAEC celebrates the work of artisans who have chosen to follow the traditional methods of handicraft and textile production, for reasons of cultural preservation or income generation.
The Heirloom Collection
TAEC Heirloom Collection pieces are all one-of-kind, made of the highest quality materials by the most respected artisans of their craft and in their community. Each Heirloom Collection item comes with a certificate from TAEC, attesting to its authenticity and quality, with detailed information about the artist techniques, and cultural significance of the craft.
TAEC created the Heirloom Collection to support revered artisans who have the skills to create craft masterpieces, and to provide original pieces for sale, without contributing to the antiques trade, which is often damaging to heritage preservation.