Monday, 20 February 2012

Paper Giants

I may be a fairly forgettable person, but no one forgets my business cards. They are, quite simply, beautiful – made from handmade mulberry paper, a rich burgundy colour with a rustic, tactile texture and embossed in gold. Every time I pass one to a business colleague, it elicits the same response – “Oh, what a lovely card!” And I proudly say, yes, I had them made in Thailand.

My cards come from a remote little village in the north of Thailand, deep in the heart of the Golden Triangle near Mae Sai. I was visiting this area last year when I happened to admire the business cards of the General Manager of the Serene Hotel in the Golden Triangle; the lovely Khun Ginny then offered to take me to the factory where the paper was made, so I could order some for myself.

Jinnaluck (also known as Asian Design Concepts) is a burgeoning family-run cottage industry that produces and exports sublime paper products for the local and international market. Starting as a backyard venture over 20 years ago, it now employs 160 local people in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly and culturally rich small business, incorporating all aspects of paper production from growing raw materials, to making the paper, design and sales.

From humble beginnings, the company is now one of the largest mulberry, or saa paper producers in Thailand. More than 3000 handmade paper products are available at the Jinnaluck sales room, from beautiful handmade wrapping paper to cards, photo albums, carry bags, lamps and diaries. It also has a range of divine wallpaper which is sought after by Asian interior designers and boutique hotels.

                              (pics: Jinnaluck's colourful sales outlet, by Julie Miller)

Paper making workshops are available for school groups or even tourists interested in finding out more about the process, while the company has recently expanded into bamboo flooring and furnishings.

Ordering my business cards was a simple, yet nerve-racking experience: since I was leaving the northern region, I arranged to have the cards delivered to my hotel in Bangkok two weeks later. But first, I had to pay up front and provide a draft design for the card, with the artwork sent to me via email for confirmation (a necessary step, since the first version I received was a curious mishmash of Thai-lish!) But as promised, the cards arrived on time and with everything spelled correctly!

If you’re in the region, make sure you check out the lovely range of products available; or order online if you can’t make it up there.

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