For each village, we collaborate with one “head artisan” who helps us source materials, delegate to the other artisans in her village and manage the production timeline.
Rung is one of the most generous, intelligent, and light-filled lady I have ever met. “Light-filled” I don’t think is a technical term, but it’s the best way to describe her effervescence. From the moment you meet Rung you feel like you’re already friends. Her giggle is contagious, she’s smart and so witty. Most importantly, on one early already-pushing-100-degrees-Fahrenheit-morning she bought me an iced latte. So, yeah. I’m ride or die now.
Rung has always loved designing and creating jewelry. Her start was in a jewelry shop where she worked for years, making her way up to manager. She learned the business while teaching herself how to make her own pieces. Eventually she took a chance on a more profitable future and started to make and sell her own jewelry. She now manages an entire community of family, friends, and neighbors who handcraft every single Lotus and Luna accessory with care and precision. #Girlboss.
I was lucky enough to spend time with Rung and her family during my time in Thailand and it was absolutely the best part of my trip. She picked me up from my hotel and took me to her house, a ways out of the city of Chiang Mai, to show me where she worked and to introduce me around her neighborhood. I got to meet her husband (the nicest) and her daughter (the coolest). Everyone was so hospitable that it blew me away.
Rung sources all of the materials herself and stores them in her workspace on the first floor of her house. Here’s a look at just a few of the many beautiful variations of gems, beads, and stones the Lotus and Luna designers have to work with.
I chilled at home with Rung while she bustled around me working. I sat on the floor, drank the latte she got me, and tried to take artsy pictures. Super helpful. Every so often a neighbor would pop in that doorway to deliver an order. All the makers work from the comfort of their own home. Most can just stroll down the street to Rung’s place (HQ, if you will) to drop off their finished products and get their next assignment.
(Pretty artsy right? Yeah I know.)
Like most of the work spaces the makers have set up in their homes, Rung's opens up to allow indoor/outdoor living and working. Outside is Rung’s patio, front yard and the driveway that leads out to the rest of the neighborhood. Often, Rung will have a big group of neighbors and friends over so they can all work on a big order together.
When Rung told me that she loves to host Boho themed parties for her friends and fellow artisans, I thought that was the cutest thing ever!
“I have many people to take care (of). And also I do this because I like it. I like to meet people, I like to make my own jewelry.”
Rung communicates with the Lotus and Luna team through emails, pictures, and text messages and then relays the direction to the other artisans. She and I were texting with HQ in San Diego all day about the designs for a new product….
While we chatted about life and work I also tried on every single piece of jewelry. Maximalism is the new minimalism. I learned a lot from Rung about her work ethic, business strategies, and how many community members she is able to employ because of the orders she gets from Lotus and Luna.
Rung taught all of the makers how to make the jewelry herself. She and her daughter do a thorough quality control on every piece.
“I teach them and we check what they do. I do for other people like I want my teacher to do for me. Because if we do not check or look after them we can’t improve our quality. That is the most important, the quality of the product.”
“I even have about four or five old people, very old, 70 or 80 years old, very far from my house... They don’t have any job so I take care of them. They do very nice work.”
Rung says this as if its just part of the job, a no-brainer. But I was touched as I imagined Rung driving far out side of her village to even more rural areas, back and forth with materials and finished product. What source of income would these elderly ladies have if not for Rung’s dedication to them?
Visiting with Rung and seeing her workshop was the highlight of my trip. Lotus and Luna is so lucky to have such a talented artisan on the team. Rung is taking care of so many amazing makers in her community. She certainly took care of me for the day.
Thank you for everything you did for me, Rung! It was such a privilege to be welcomed into your home and introduced to your friends and family. Your light lifted me up. Never stop sparkling.