Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre: Learn, Shop and Eat in Luang Prabang

by Sarah Shaw
( June 6th, 2014 )

Hmong Skirts on Display

Visiting the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is one of the best ways for you to spend a couple hours while in Luang Prabang, Laos. Since opening in 2007, the TAEC has been showcasing the culture, history and crafts of the more than 30 ethnic groups found throughout Laos. Although many of its first 38,000 visitors have been international tourists like yourself, TAEC also plays an important role in helping the Lao people understand and preserve their cultural traditions. The Centre houses a museum, shop and cafe so there is plenty to do during your visit. Join me as I discover all the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre has to offer.

Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre

Luang Prabang has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Town. The unique architecture, a mixture of traditional Laotian forms mixed with European colonial influences, is being preserved for future generations. As you wander the sleepy streets and visit the many Buddhists temples, you will also be struck by the richness of the regions cultural heritage. Each ethnic group in Laos has strong and distinct handicraft traditions and they can be seen everywhere you visit. Luang Prabang’s prominence made it the perfect location to found the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre as both domestic and international tourists would be seeking it out during their travels. In fact, the Centre is located in a renovated heritage building.

Akha woman in traditional dress

Ethnic minorities around the world are faced with many challenges as they make their way in modern cultures. Many in younger generations leave their small villages and traditions behind as they move to larger cities and seek jobs in the global market. Their heritage becomes a casualty as the forget the beliefs and practices so important to their grandparents and lose the specific skills necessary to create traditional handicrafts. Museums like the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre serve an important role in documenting cultural identity and providing opportunities for cross-group understanding as well as economic support.

Back strap looms on display

Most visitors arrive at the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre initially to visit the museum. The permanent collection is rotated to allow more objects to be on display. It currently includes many examples of traditional clothing as well as textiles created for use in the home. Jewelry is an important accessory for many of the 30 distinct ethnic groups represented in the collection. You can also find handicraft tools, baskets and other household necessities on display. Another aspect of culture addressed in exhibits are spiritual, religious and ritual objects of significance. As you explore the museum, you will discover many signs and plaques that will help you understand each of the objects as well as which ethnic group they belong to.

Tai Dam Bedroom

Currently the permanent collection is focused into four specific exhibits representing some of the more well known ethnic groups in Laos. The Hmong are showcased through their New Year’s celebrations which include many fun and interesting courtship traditions. A traditional Tai Dam bedroom has been set-up displaying many of their fine textiles including an elaborate mosquito net. The Kmhmu are known to excel at basket weaving with bamboo as well as their textile work on back-strap looms. Many examples of their creations are on display so you can examine their mastery. The final ethnic group being showcased at the Akha with the highlight being an elaborate headdress made of more than 300 pieces of silver. Exploring the different exhibits will give you a deeper understanding of each of these people you are likely to meet during your travels in Laos.

Kmhmu baskets made from bamboo in Laos

During your visit to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre you will also have the opportunity to tour a special exhibit which is included with your small entry fee. Currently the Katu people are being featured and you can learn more about their skill with weaving, basketry and especially their woodcarving. Videos being shown will allow you to witness Katu traditions including rituals performed at their communal meetinghouses. When I toured the museum, a special exhibit focused on courtship and wedding customs for the Hmong, Tai Phun and Mien people. I always find it interesting to discover specific traditions of a group of people and compare it to how the event is celebrated in my own culture.

Museum Gift Shop

One of my favorite places to purchase souvenirs and gifts for people back home is to visit a museum gift shop. I can enthusistically recommend the shopping experience here. Not only is their a wonderful selection of traditional handcrafted items but you can shop knowing that you are directly supporting the ethnic groups being showcased in the museum. Through the Livelihoods Development Program, the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre supports over 500 artisans in 12 different provinces in Laos. All of the items being offered follow fair trade principles and through their efforts these craft traditions can be maintained in rural villages. Most of the artists are women so being able to stay in their homes, near the support of other family members, is critical to the experience. Even if you do not have a trip to Luang Prabang planned in the near future, you can purchase a wonderful selection of crafts through their newly opened online TAEC Shop. I was thrilled to discover it and already know what my first order will include!

Le Patio Cafe in Luang Prabang

So you’ve spent some time exploring the museum and you’ve discovered some treasures in the shop and I am guessing that you are ready for a little refreshment. You can continue your way through the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre to Le Patio Cafe’. A beautiful and relaxing atmosphere welcomes you and your only challenge will be deciding which items to order. You will be offered a full menu featuring a selection of ethnic minority dishes so you can sample the flavors they hold dear. You can also choose from a number of sandwiches and snacks if you only want something light. A refreshing listing of beverages will also help you revitalize before you move on to your next destination. If you plan on visiting TAEC as part of a group, you can plan a special offering, well as a seminar on a topic of interest, to be held at Le Patio Cafe’.

Traditional clothing and jewelry

As a woman wanderer, I like to discover what women around the world are doing to help raise our sisters up. I was thrilled to discover the Stitching Our Story project. Taking place over several years, with assistance from PhotoForward, this program empowers women and girls in ethnic communities to research and document their experiences. Photography and video captures images their cultural heritage and the “often seismic impact that modernization is having on traditional beliefs and practices.” Started in 2012, the first year followed Hmong women in the Night Market and explored themes like women at work, shamanism, traditional medicine and childhood and parenthood. Future research included women in other ethnic groups as well as themes of women at rest and play, traditional paper making, childbirth traditions and weaving. Both documentary shorts as well as photographs have been shown in venues and festivals around the world. A special exhibit showcasing Stitching Our Story will be on view beginning this Fall at the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre.

Akha Clothing

The programs and exhibits offered by the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre provide important education opportunities for visitors from Laos to learn about other ethnic groups within their own country. People from all over the world will have an easy time learning about these cultures as translations on the exhibits are offered in many languages. Exhibit information is posted in both Lao and English. Upon request and free of charge, translations are currently available in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. The museum is also ready to welcome visitors of all ages. A variety of activity sheets have been developed to help children explore and learn during their visit. You can also print coloring sheets featuring images of favorite items discovered in the museum.

Handwoven scarves and sashes

Although the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is located in Luang Prabang, they are beginning to have a global presence. This July they will be attending the Sante Fe International Folk Art Market for the third year. This market provides both exposure and well as income from new sources for ethnic artisans from Laos. This year’s booth will include products from the Kmhmu, Tai Lue and Yao Mien communities. Attending events like these also allow for an exchange of creative ideas with other traditional ethnic groups around the world. While reading up on current activities on their Facebook page, I was thrilled to discover that a group of Navajo weavers had recently visited the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre.  Visiting from New Mexico, three generations of Navajo women  shared information on their culture, craft and even some blue corn porridge with over 60 people who attended the event. What a wonderful meeting of cultures! I wish I had been there to experience the event.

Embroidered Hmong Hat

Thank you for joining me as I remembered my visit to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre. I hope next time you are in Luang Prabang, you will make sure to include them into your time there. They are easy to locate at the foot of Phou Si Hill right behind the Dara Market. I had biked in to town and spent the morning touring temples and then as the day really heated up, decided to escape to the sanctuary of the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre.

Tai Dam Mosquito Net Detail

I have some more images from my visit over in the Laos Photos, Too Album on WanderShopper’s Facebook Page. Be sure to “like” WanderShopper while you are there so you are the first to learn about upcoming posts. You may also want to check out one of my earlier posts about my visit to Luang Prabang, Hmong Batik Technique where I share my experiences taking a batik class from a Hmong master at Ock Pop Tok’s Living Crafts Centre. You might also enjoy my fantasy post where I pose the question “What if the Hill Tribes Hosted Fashion Week?” for a glimpse into ethnic clothing traditions in the region.

Indigo Ikat Scarves

When you visit the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, what will you head to first? Some of the clothing displays? The baskets and weaving? The museum shop? Or maybe Le Patio Cafe’?

Until we shop again,


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Discover America’s Washboard Heritage near Hocking Hills, Ohio

by Sarah Shaw
( May 30th, 2014 )

Shopping at the Columbus Washboard Company

I recently explored the Hocking Hills area in the southeastern Ohio and discovered America’s only remaining Washboard Factory. The Columbus Washboard Company has been creating washboards in many sizes and materials since 1895. Although founded in Columbus, Ohio, today you can tour their factory in Logan just an hour’s drive away near scenic Hocking Hills State Park. Not only can you learn about the process of making washboards using equipment from the early 1900’s but you will also enjoy spending some time in their extensive gift shop. Join me today as I share some of the highlights from my visit including information on the annual Washboard Music Festival as well as their efforts to support our military serving overseas.

Turn of the century crimper

Washboards played an important role in every home allowing laundry to be done effectively and efficiently. Coming in a variety of sizes, washboards were made specific for the task. Large, family models easily fit generously sized wash tubs where clothing and linens were cleaned. You may also select a more moderate, pail size washboard. The scale decreases down to a mini-size perfect for the traveler or salesman on the road. You could add it to your bag and easily wash your socks or underwear out in the hotel room’s sink. I can also remember using a small washboard to wash my doll clothing when I was a little girl. Washboards are convenient to have on hand for those times when the power goes out or if you are somewhere without power like when you are camping.

Parts of a washboard frame

Size isn’t the only consideration when selecting a washboard. The frame may be made from a variety of materials. The Columbus Washboard Company currently offers washboards in kiln-dried poplar or teak. Each washboard is hand assembled in their factory in Logan. You could tell how proud the team there was that all the materials are locally sourced and that their washboards are 100% manufactured in the United States.

Maid Rite Washboard

In addition to size and frame, their are also options regarding the material used to create the washboard’s scrubbing surface. You most likely have seen models using either galvanized or stainless steel, both of which are available for purchase in their gift shop. As the metal surface is frequently getting wet, these materials hold up well to the moisture and resist rusting which is especially important when you are washing your whites. The Columbus Washboard Factory also has a few models created in brass. Although nice looking and offering a nice patina over time, these washboards are better for display has they have not proved popular. I was fascinated to discover that a number of washboards are offered in glass. These washboards are especially sought after in tropical locations like Hawaii. When you regularly deal with high humidity, glass is the material of choice as it will never rust.

American washboards for sale

Another consideration when selecting a washboard is the pattern on the rubbing surface. Some of the first washboards were made from carved wood. The same pattern was replicated in early designs by crimping metal into a ridged, zig-zag surface. Scrubbing against these surfaces offered improved resistance over smooth river rocks and helped remove soil without damaging the clothing. When washing delicate items such a lingerie, silks and fine knits you may want a surface designed for the task. Over the years, different textures and patterns were developed to address different laundry needs as well as providing an interesting design. You may want your washboard to be a multi-tasker and offer a different surface on each side. Additional surfaces are offered for those looking to display their washboard including chalkboard, cork or even a mirror.

Vintage Rub Rite Washbaord

Antique and vintage washboards have become collectible as people like to use them for display in their washrooms, kitchens and other areas of their home. They are also sought after by theme restaurants looking to create a country or vintage ambiance. Not only do they add nice texture to a wall from the washing surface, they also have wonderful graphics printed along the top. Some washboards were used for brand advertisement and may offer multi-color designs. The Columbus Washboard Factory has on hand a hundred different designs including many traditional graphics. During your tour, you will be able to see many of the old engraved plates used to create these designs.

Washboard graphics in vintage designs

Each year, the Columbus Washboard Company welcomes several thousand visitors through their doors for a behind-the-scenes tour of their operations. They have been in their current location sine 1999 in what was once a shoe factory. You will know immediately that you have arrived at the right place when you see the world’s largest washboard mounted on the side of their building. It features one of their most popular logos – Sunnyland. And that’s a fitting name for their Washboard Shangra-la as they can boast near 100% employee retention for many years. People love working in a company where the goal is to support their family and community. One way they do that is to source all their materials locally while they ship their nearly 60,000 washboards annually around the world.


Columbus Washboard Company in Logan, Ohio

One program everyone at the Columbus Washboard Company is really excited about is their Washboard Troop Kits. Started in 2004 as a way to help American military personal serving overseas, the initiative continues today entirely through donations. The idea is a simple one. A Washboard Laundry Kit is put together which includes a washboard, washtub, clothesline, clothespins, soap and even some foot powder! An instruction sheet is also including offering techniques for using the washboard for their laundry. Family and friends can email the Columbus Washboard Company the name and address of their soldier who would like to participate. A donation of $25 will cover the kit and getting it shipped. Interested people can also make a donation and it will be used to send a kit to a soldier in need from their list. So far, over 4,000 Troop Kits have been sent. You can learn more on how you can participate at the Columbus Washboard Company website.Washboard Laundry Kit for American Troops

Another popular use for the washboard is featured during the annual Washboard Music Festival. Many genres of music have embraced the washboard for its percussive sounds which add a layer of sound and rhythm to their performances. Held each Father’s Day Weekend, the Washboard Music Festival showcases Zydeco, Celtic, Dixieland Jazz as well as Jug Bands on their stage. Interested in trying your hand at the washboard? Workshops are offered during the Festival to teach the newly initiated some of the moves. Lots of other activities are offered during the Thursday – Saturday Festival. Kids will enjoy some of the rides as well as the parade. You may like to explore some of the Historical Society Exhibits, the Quilt Show and of course some of the Arts & Crafts vendors on display. The Festival is also a great place to grab a meal or a snack while you enjoy the current performers.

Washboard Music Festival in Logan, Ohio

You will want to stop in the Columbus Washboard Factory Gift Shop after a tour, during the Music Festival or just while you are in Logan. You will, of course, be surrounded by a wide selection of washboards in different sizes, rubbing surfaces and logos. They make a perfect souvenir of your visit as well as a thoughtful and original gift. Budding washboard players can select their first instrument as they have a number set up with bicycle horns, bells, wood blocks and tins for additional percussive sounds. The Gift Shop also offers a wide selection of quality soaps from the U.K. I picked up a number of different soaps perfect for laundry and others for my bath. As they look to foster equal trade with their distribution partners around the globe, I was also excited to discover they carried Anchor butter from New Zealand which you will want to make sure you add to your purchase. I appreciate the nice offering of locally created keepsakes offered and came home with a quilt as well as a wind chime made from casts of vintage pavers from the old brick kiln.

Gift Shop at the Columbus Washboard Company in Logan, Ohio

Unable to visit the Columbus Washboard Factory in the near future? You can choose from all their gift shop offerings and more at the Columbus Washboard Factory website. Next time you are shopping at your local Ace and True Value hardware stores, you will find their products, too. In fact, anywhere you find washboards you are likely to discover that they were made by the Columbus Washboard Factory. They have been “keeping America clean since 1895” and are now the only manufacturer in the country.

Vintage washboard logo

I really enjoyed my visit with the friendly people at the Columbus Washboard Company. I found the tour really interesting and left with an assortment of washboards to add to my laundry room. I have many more pictures from my time there that I would love to share with you. You can find these and others from my time in Columbus and Hocking Hills at WanderShopper’s Facebook page in their photos albums. While you are there, be sure to “like” WanderShopper so you are alerted to future posts as well as other information and pictures I share.

When you grab a washboard, is it to:  A) do some laundry, B) sit in with the band, C) redecorate the laundry room or D) give as a gift? Do you have a favorite washboard story to share? I would love to hear from you!

Until we shop again,

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International Women’s Day: Hear from Women Entrpreneurs Around the World

by Sarah Shaw
( March 7th, 2014 )

Celebrating Women

For this year’s International Women’s Day, I was excited to learn that so many of the bloggers at Wanderlust and Lipstick would be sharing information about this special holiday. It is one day set aside around the world where women are celebrated for something we all do with ease and style! Although this holiday was founded in the United States back in 1908, over the years its become less well known here. I was excited to take this opportunity to help WanderShoppers learn more about the day as well as how it is celebrated in other countries. To do so, I contacted international women business owners I shop with and asked them about International Women’s Day in their country. I am excited to share with you their responses as well as let you know more about their businesses. Supporting women entrepreneurs around the world by purchasing some of their products seems like a great way for a WanderShopper to add to their celebrations for the day.

International Women’s Day started with a march by over 15,000 women in New York City who were demanding better pay, shorter working hours and the right to vote. It is easy for today’s women to forget that the majority of our time as a country, American women were not able to vote nor were they given many of the rights we now take for granted. These earlier feminists helped create the conditions we all benefit from today. Yet there are millions of women in many other countries that are still struggling for these basic rights. It’s important that we, as women, reclaim this annual day to celebrate our progress and help extend respect and equality to our sisters around the world. To learn more about the history of International Women’s Day, please check out my post from last year.

In many cultures, it would still be unthinkable for a woman to own her own business and to be financially independent from the men in her life whether they are her father and brothers or her husband. I am excited to share with you a group of inspirational women I have discovered and shopped with through their stores on Etsy. Websites like these offer women artists and small business owners a simple way to showcase their talents and products as they market them to a world of shoppers. They are able to sell directly to you so that the profits come back directly to their bank accounts. Many of our featured women have developed their businesses over the years and are well established. Others are just starting to create their own stores and cultivate a loyal customer following. Everyone listed has shipped fantastic items to me and I know you will be as glad to discover them as I have been.

I have been really interested in the different responses I have received. International Women’s Day is commemorated in many different ways around the world. I asked each woman the same five questions including how the holiday is celebrated in their country as well as what they would like for you to learn about their business. I will be listing each entrepreneur in alphabetical order by their country of business. I am also sharing pictures of items I have purchased from their shops so you can get an idea of the types of things they offer. I encourage you to use the links I’ve provided to see what items they are offering for sale today.

Vintage bread proofing baskets from FrenchAtticFinds


Marman Raquin in Nannay, Bourgogne


How is International Women’s Day celebrated in your country?

International Women’s Day is celebrated in France mostly through media coverage. On national radio there are guest speakers, usually feminists and women’s right activists, though sometimes educators and entrepreneurs. Talk focuses on what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done. On national television it is mentioned, and also documentaries are often shown, showing women’s condition across the world.

Are there opportunities to take part in activities out in the community versus things done at home between family members or friends?

There are activities planned in most big cities, but very little filters down to the rural areas. This is true for most culture in France.

Antique Wooden Clogs from FrenchAtticFinds

What do you remember being taught about International Women’s Day in school?

I didn’t attend school in France so I am asking some students and teachers in my contacts. My friends who are students say it isn’t really talked about in schools, unless you are in a political science class or other feminist related class. My friend in Paris who is a teacher (12-13 year olds) says that every year on the 8th, her students wish her a happy Women’s Day, and she uses it as a starting point to say how far we’ve come, but how unequal the work place still is for women in France. For example, bosses offer a rose to female employees, where they should really be offering a raise. She thinks that the day is used as an excuse to pass over all the inequalities that happen year round.

How would you describe your store to someone who has not shopped with you before?

My Etsy store sells a selection of curated vintage finds from France and Europe. I only stock items that appeal to me and fit nicely into my own home.

Ceramic Cheese Molds from FrenchAtticFinds

What would you like WanderShoppers to know?

When I made the decision to stay at home to care for my children, the people around me always asked me when I would be returning to work. The French are very career minded, and generally return to the work place 3 months after having given birth. When I started French Attic Finds in 2011, I got the feeling everyone around me was breathing a sigh of relief, as if my role as stay at home mom wasn’t sufficient. France has since simplified the process of becoming an auto entrepreneur, which up until this point was a very expensive undertaking. If they hadn’t recently developed this system, I would have either continued on as a stay at home mom, with no rights to social benefits or retirement plans, or been forced back into the work force. There is still a lot to do for women’s rights in France, but it has more to do with changing people’s mentality.

Herbs from TheSpartanTable


Jehny Koniditsioti in Sparta


How is International Women’s Day celebrated in your country?

Women’s Day (8th of March), is celebrated in Greece, as longs as I can remember (I’ll be 42yrs on 13.3). Mostly with events and speeches in culture places.
In our city, Sparta, actually there’s nothing special, except from time to time, an event with a speech and a cocktail party. Of course, clubs, restaurants, hotels etc. are taking advantage of this day for business!)

Are there opportunities to take part in activities out in the community versus things done at home between family members or friends?

Yes there are several activities that a woman can do / work with. Mostly working as a volunteer for charity issues.

Sun dried tomato spread from TheSpartanTable

What do you remember being taught about International Women’s Day in school?

I don’t remember too much I’m afraid. Just few things about the previous “situation of the women” in older societies. Staying mostly in home, without voting rights and always obeying men. But that changed decades ago and now women are equal in rights with men. (Ok not always in business posistions as you know, but considering the lives of our grandmothers, we are living much, much better.)

How would you describe your store to someone who has not shopped with you before?

With my Husband George, and as many Greeks, we’ve passed 5+ hard years. Many things that we knew collapsed and our lives changed. But these difficulties, we believe they made us stronger and we realized that life ’s short and all we need is each other. We want to meet new friends, from around the world, talk, laugh, cry, dream, and share moments in life. We need to learn new things and experiences. And we want to pass these to our children and the young generations.
It happens that we live in a Mythical Land. Perhaps Sparta, is the more famous city from the ancient world. And we feel that being a Spartan, is not just living in Sparta.  It is having pride and honor, dignity and humanity. You know Sarah, there’s nothing better than sitting at a table with dear friends and sharing a wonderful meal and a glass of wine. This is the place where people really meet and know each other. And Spartan Table comes naturally. Through this, we want to invite people to share the treasures of our land with us. And we desire to have the chance to host as many friends as we can in the following years, at our place.
We want to show Sparta to the world:)

Olive groves from TheSpartanTable

What would you like WanderShoppers to know?

Sparta awaits You :)

Thank you, Jehny, for sharing beautiful images from around your home in Sparta. I will be posting more of your photos in my Facebook album. Link is available at the end of this post.

Peppery Silk Bracelets

Hong Kong

Peppery in Hong Kong


To be honest, International Women’s Day is not widely celebrated in Hong Kong – not that we do not value women’s rights or gender equality. I believe women in Hong Kong are actually one of the luckiest crowds in regard to women’s rights as compared to many other parts of the world. There are, of course, still cases of discrimination, mistreat or abuse in this city regrettably. But those women are often given channels to voice out and report to the authority, unlike women in many places where they are constantly violated, even secretly executed, and their voices are never heard. Similar to other well-developed economies, International Women’s Day here is seen or used as a marketing device to encourage retail sales, somewhat like Valentine’s Day.
On a personal level, I do think women should be remembered and thanked as mothers, wives, providers, problem solvers, comfort givers, especially working mothers nowadays, they actually work “double-shift” every day – fighting for their career at work and taking care of their family at home.

Peppery makes jewelry in Hong Kong

For those who do not know or never shopped with “Peppery” before, our shop, though a small one, does offer plenty of choices and will continuously develop new lines/products by exploring different possibilities.

Thanks again for including our shop in this meaningful cause.


psBesitos create book clutches in Italy


Jessica Bermudez Bautista from Siena


How is International Women’s Day celebrated in your country?

I’m Spanish but I’ve been living in Italy for the last 13 years. Here in Italy International Women’s Day is a celebration for women that might has lost it’s true meaning but it’s still a day dedicated to all women. A day that we go out and get some time away from all our chores and a time to be spoiled by our men. I don’t personally feel the need for such a day because I feel very fortunate to be a woman and would never change my self for any men, not even the most successful of all.

Are there opportunities to take part in activities out in the community versus things done at home between family members or friends?

I feel, as well as my girlfriends, that we are quite involved in the community and very dedicated to our families. My self, I feel I get enough time to do it all and although I have quite a plate full I like it this way.

Designed covers become book clutches at psBesitos

What do you remember being taught about International Women’s Day in school?

I grew up in Spain and I must be honest to say that I don’t remember this day to be any different from any other day. I feel that here in Italy has a stronger tradition.

How would you describe your store to someone who has not shopped with you before?

My store is one to have items (in my case Book Clutches) that are accessories meant to be fun and personal at the same time. I love books and love to carry one at all times. I always have a book in my purse to read at any short space of time. Carrying a book clutch to a party or to a special night or even Sunday brunch, it’s a way for each of us to say something about our self without speaking.

Many book clutches to choose from at psBesitos

What would you like WanderShoppers to know?

About me that I love what I do and I hope to keep doing it for as long as I can. About my work, that I take a lot of pride on what I create and I think that shows on my pieces and the attention to detail I give to each one of it.


Vintage indigo fabric from FurugiStar in Japan


Stephanie Hannon in Tokyo


How is International Women’s Day celebrated in your country?

I am from the UK originally and I am not sure how they are celebrating it there as I have been here for so long. Nine years this month! However, looking at the official website there are over 300 events across the country. Although, I honestly don’t remember being taught about this event at school.

Here in Japan, I must say I have not heard much about it. It is interesting to note that on the official website for Japan, there is only one event listed.

I have found that the Women’s Network Organization in Japan is holding a networking event for women in business. The New Japan’s Women’s Organisation (Shinfujin) is the largest women’s organization in Japan. It does not seem to have any events related to International Women’s Day.

I am in the foreign community here and there are a number of groups working to support foreign and Japanese women. However, the focus does tend to be on expats: Being A Broad and For Empowering Women in Japan. These groups don’t appear to be holding any related events on first glance. Being a Broad is an organisation run by Caroline Pover, UK expat in Tokyo. She has been very successful and influential in working to support foreign women in Japan. “Earlier this year for her work with international schools she was awarded the International Women’s Day Award for Outstanding Service as part of the celebrations of 100 years of International Women’s Day.”

An organization called Care is holding an 8km (in Tokyo) ‘walk in her shoes’ event on the 8th to consider the lives of women who carry large burdens, such as drinking water or firewood, over long distances on dangerous roads.

Vintage Obi from FurugiStar

Are there opportunities to take part in activities out in the community versus things done at home between family members or friends?

Shinfujin are open to all women and have community events, however they seem to be more on political lines. As far a community work generally in Japan, there are lots of opportunities. Japan is very community focused and people strive to maintain that, even in the big city.

How would you describe your store to someone who has not shopped with you before?

FurugiStar was born of a fascination with the thoughts and feelings evoked by handmade antique fabrics. Textiles with a connection to the artisans and former owners hold a richness that new fabrics just don’t possess. Together with antiques and vintage items found in and around Tokyo, FurugiStar specialises in Japanese antique folk textiles of history and substance.

Vintage abacus on antique boro from FurugiStar

What would you like WanderShoppers to know?

I thought it might be interesting to put forward Ichiyou Higuchi as an important female historical figure in Japan. She is on the ¥5,000 note and well respected as an influential writer/ poet.

Thank you, Steph, for providing all those great links so we can learn more about the groups available to women in Japan!

Moroccan kohl pots and pill boxes from CRumpffCollectibles

The Netherlands/Morocco

Coby Rumpff in Haren near Groningen


How is International Women’s Day celebrated in your country?

In the Netherlands Women’s Day has not been widely celebrated and well-known. There are some women’s clubs who pay attention to Women’s Day by supporting charities for women worldwide.

Are there opportunities to take part in activities out in the community versus things done at home between family members or friends?

As far as I know there are no activities between family and friends.

CRumpffCollectibles from The Netherlands offers Moroccan imports

What do you remember being taught about International Women’s Day in school?

No, I was not taught about Woman’s Day. The first time I heard about Women’s Day was when I was a member of the Women’s Club, The Soroptimists. The women of the expats community in Fez , Morocco where I spend a lot of time, are celebrating Women’s Day by inviting women to show different skills and support and to create for Moroccan women co-operatives.

How would you describe your store to someone who has not shopped with you before?

CRumpffCollectibles is a shop were you can find various vintage and antiques mostly from Morocco and France, beautiful items with history and some beautiful handicrafts made in Morocco.

Gemstone demitasse spoons from CRumpffCollectibles

What would you like WanderShoppers to know?

That there is still a lot to do about the well being of the women worldwide. I realize that I was lucky to have been born in The Netherlands, a country were women are respected and have equal rights.


GaneshasRat in Norway


Metta Soligard in Bergen


How is International Women’s Day celebrated in your country?

I live in Norway where equality is a big thing. The day was celebrated first in 1915, but was “rediscovered” in 1972 by the feminist movement. There is a focus on the day in the media on activities nationally and internationally; a focus in schools, there are marches, woman give each other cards and wish each other Happy Woman’s Day, florists sell flowers and use slogans like:
” Celebrate a strong woman on the International Woman’s Day! – send flowers to a woman that has been a positive influence in your life.”

Are there opportunities to take part in activities out in the community versus things done at home between family members or friends?

You can participate in marches and cultural arrangements – and you can send cards & flowers and wish other women you know a Happy Women’s Day.

Mantra boxes honor Ganesh at Norway's GaneshasRat

What do you remember being taught about International Women’s Day in school?

I was a teenager in the 70-ies when they started celebrating the day again. I remember being taught in school about the history of women’s rights – the right to vote, education, equal pay etc etc. The topics were current at the time as well and there were debates in the media on equal pay and the right of women to decide on termination of pregnancies.

How would you describe your store to someone who has not shopped with you before?

Ganesha’s Rat, a shop filled with spiritual boho style creations handmade by me – yoga eye pillows, pocket shrines, mantra books, mala bags, meditation kits, prayer flags, spiritual jewellery, cards, and many Ganesh items. I believe art and beauty feeds the soul and uplifts the spirit, and that is what I hope to do with my creations.

Mediation gift items from GaneshasRat

What would you like WanderShoppers to know?

To extend the topic of women’s rights somewhat, I believe that all people are born free, with the same value and human rights, and that all people have the same human rights, regardless of gender, religion, race, political views, nationality. (from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Swedish Textiles from MarangHouse


Caroline Henkelius


How is International Women’s Day celebrated in your country?

We don´t celebrate that much. Television and radio can alert it. But I must say that I do not experience this as a great feast at all in Sweden. But surely we are all aware of the day and in one way or another noticed the day – though perhaps we do not celebrate it that much.

When I was asked to answer these questions I had to Google a bit to just see – and decided myself to give a donation for the International Women´s day to help women to get more education in Africa. I think this might be a great way of celebrating – and maybe we all should do that.

Are there opportunities to take part in activities out in the community versus things done at home between family members or friends?

Women parade in some cities to celebrate the day. Then it’s very individual. Some receiving flowers or gifts from their loved ones – a little like Mother’s Day. But I would say that it is more a day when we look outside to the rest of the world to help others that are in need – to straighten women.

Custom blended salves from MarangHouse

What do you remember being taught about International Women’s Day in school?

Can honestly say I don’t have any memory.

How would you describe your store to someone who has not shopped with you before?

Me – Maränghuset/Maranghouse – are a lot of different things – just like me as a person, loving to do so many different things. Maränghuset is an agency that works with magazine articles and advertising. Maranghouse is a part of this, and some of my own designs in both craft and healing. I started Maranghouse on Etsy as a way to sell of props from my photo-shoots, but just after a few months I suddenly noticed that I was doing more hunting among the riches of our Vintage inheritance – and I feel very proud to show and sell so much magnificent things – mostly and mainly done by Swedish Women. In a way – my shop can be seen as a celebration of women – or maybe better saying ´human´ creativity.

Magazine photography by MarangHouse

I sell rag rugs – fantastic and dying trade that has been a big part of our history for century´s. I love some of the stories I get to hear about some of the rugs – like when a granddaughter of a couple told me that her grandfather made the rugs out of his wife worn out old dresses.

I also sell, vintage fabric and thread kits – this is sort of a way I would like to shop – not have to get so much of one color but a lot of different things to mix and create with. Vintage supplies are amazing! You will never today get fabric as great as what was made 20-100 years ago in the small cottages of Sweden!

I focus on Sweden, I know it is a country of many mysteries for the rest of the world, not knowing if we have ice bears running around or elks in the gardens (I have neither :)). Sweden is a big county with many landscapes and has a lot of treasures to offer – rugs, fabric, wool, flax/linen, crafts in wood, porcelain, glass, tin and pewter, silver and…

And I also sell some of the handmade things I do myself – sometimes I make bags out of vintage materials, I blend tea that I love myself and do share both oils and salves I make myself – this came out of me needing more then I could afford to buy – my twin daughters love using all my creations too… So I started making them myself and now offer them as a little side project in my shop. With some items I feel has a magical energy to empower you.

Vintage rug from Sweden's MarangHouse

What would you like WanderShoppers to know?

One of my favorite things with running my shop is all the great requests I get – Many in the States have relatives that once came from Sweden – and I have had a couple of really great feelings when I found things for someone to make them feel more connected to the past. I love the fact that I have helped and did the photos for another shop on etsy and I would gladly do that again…

I am a creative artist in many ways – I love sharing and helping others with dreams. Right now a dream of mine is to shoot a book for someone else ( I do like doing my own too ) – to focus on someone else ideas and lift them.

I feel many have so many great ideas but have a problem with being seen – that is why I focus more and more on advertising at the moment – and hope I will have time for EVERYTHING and even more.

More then anything – I am very thankful for my little shop as a part of the bigger thing, it has opened my eye more of what great things we make in Sweden and – that you can hold something in your hand that I have fallen in love for through my camera – because more than anything, I am actually just a simple photographer.

Proud woman,
artist – human.

Inspire me – challenge me to find what will inspire You!

Thank you, Caroline, for sharing your lovely images with us. I will be including more of your pictures in the album celebrating International Women’s Day on my Facebook page. You can find the link at the end of this post.

I am sure you’ve all learned a lot from our sister entrepreneurs around the world. I really appreciate the time and effort they put into helping us learn about what is done in each of their countries. I am sure you are excited to start shopping with them as well. Buying products made by women and sold by women is a wonderful way to support women.

Seamstress at a market in Bagan, Myanmar

You may want to check out the WanderShopper Facebook page and the album Celebrating International Women’s Day for some more images that I was unable to include in the post today. In addition you will find photos I shared in honor of this day last year which celebrate women encountered during my travels. Be sure to “like” WanderShopper while you are there so you receive alerts to future posts as well as access to Facebook only content. To learn more about the history of International Women’s Day, check out my post from last year. How will you be celebrating International Women’s Day this year?

Until we shop again,


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