Meet The Co-Founders
Veomanee Douangdala learnt how to weave from her mother when she was 8 years old. She is the youngest of four children and the only daughter. This position in the family brought many responsibilities. Veo became an accomplished weaver and her exceptional skill has helped her support her family. When she was 24 she took the adventurous step of co-founding Ock Pop Tok.
Veo has become a natural ambassador for Lao textiles, both meeting global dignitaries and inspiring young Lao women to follow in her footsteps and to empower themselves with their weaving skills. Veo is on the board of the chamber of commerce and has chaired the Luang Prabang Handicraft group. Veo leads the OPT weaving team, oversees the management of our Living Crafts Centre, and is responsible for of our Heritage textile collection.
In November 2017 Veo was invited to speak at a Ted-X Talk in Vientiane, focused on the theme “Reimagine” with the objective of empowering and celebrating women nationwide in Laos. Veo was able to share the story of Ock Pop Tok and how a small idea 18 years ago, has now grown into one of the biggest social enterprises in the textile industry in Laos. You can have a longer read here!
Veo leads the Ock Pop Tok product design and weaving teams, oversees the management of our Living Crafts Centre, and is responsible for of our Heritage textile collection. In her free time, you’ll find Veo tending to her garden at home, where she organically grows herbs and vegetables and even has a chicken coop and a fish pond! Veo loves spending time with her family but makes sure to meditate and do yoga, to balance her mind and body.
Jo has a BA in Fine Arts, specialising in sculpture and photography. A photography contract with an E.U funded development project brought her to Laos in 1999. While here in Laos, Jo was becoming increasingly enamored with the intricate weavings and the women who produced them. Veo’s creativity attracted Jo like a magnet. She had been looking for like-minded artists with whom to collaborate. Both women shared a love for the traditional hand loomed textiles and were committed to preserving and promoting these textiles to the rest of the world. These shared interests led the two to co-found Ock Pop Tok in 2000.
In 2002 Jo initiated Ock Pop Tok’s rural development programme, the Village Weaver Projects whose goal is to alleviate poverty in rural areas. This has led to numerous consultancies in Value Chain Analysis for Lao government projects. This project currently employs over 400 artisans around Laos.
Jo has spoken about Ock Pop Tok’s mission at academic and museum conferences from Sydney to Washington D.C.. Recently she made a presentation about Lao textiles (in the Lao language) at Tinkuy, an international Textiles Conference in Cusco, Peru.
Jo now oversees the creative and strategic development of the company. You’ll find her buzzing around in her bright yellow scooter searching for new culinary ideas for Ock Pop Tok’s two cafés or discovering more innovative products for the stores. She relaxes by playing football on the many athletic fields in Luang Prabang!
Meet The Teams…
Head of Finance & Human Resources
Originally from the big city of Manila, Philippines, Helen was drawn to work for Ock Pop Tok because of its focus on women’s empowerment. Helen started working here in 2014 and now leads the entire Finance and Accounting team. She studied and worked in the finance industry for 15 years prior to this job. She is proud to work for a company that supports ethically sourced textile production but also contributes to the economic livelihood of many families and women across Laos. She recommends taking the half-day weaving class, as it “really makes you appreciate the effort and time it takes to finish one product.” Helen’s bubbly personality and maternal instincts are felt across the whole office. If she’s not sorting all the bills and payments here, you will find Helen dancing with her dance group, reading a good book or cooking up a storm in the kitchen!
Head of Marketing & Sales
Hilary joined the Ock Pop Tok team in 2017. Originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico in the United States, Hilary lived three years in Guatemala establishing community based education programs as a member of the Peace Corps. There she began working with local artisans to market their crafts and handmade products to international buyers and re-sellers. This experience deepened her love and appreciation for all things handcrafted and locally sourced. When she returned home she worked at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe. Through this job she was able to network and meet the Ock Pop Tok team. “I immediately respected their mission and values. They are leaders not only within the textile industry, but with environmental groups here in Laos as well.” Hilary decided to join the team, packed her bags, and moved her life over to Laos. She is now leading the Sales and Marketing team. “It’s great to be here, anyone that knows weaving and textiles in Laos, knows Ock Pop Tok and I love being a part of that!” When Hilary is not busy at work, you can find her enjoying the spicy Laotian cuisine, spending time outdoors, or doing handstands around her house!
Soulinda (Lear) Philiminda
Head of Production & Design
A Luang Prabang native, Lear started working at Ock Pop Tok in 2000 as the very first employee and has remained an integral part of the company. She now leads the entire Production and Design team. Her highest priority is that her staff are happy and busy. You will find Lear planning ahead and making sure everyone is engaged in the work at hand! Lear loves that Ock Pop Tok is a company that supports women in Laos and allows them to earn a livelihood for themselves and their families. She is a self-taught designer who uses Illustrator and Photoshop to interpret weavers’ ideas as well as reinvent traditional motifs to create modern designs. As a mark of her achievements, Lear and master weaver Ms. Liew won the “most prestigious design award” of the Luang Prabang Handicraft Association in 2012 for their Organza Design. When Lear isn’t at work, she loves spending her time with her two children, playing badminton and dreaming of new textile designs.
Living Crafts Centre
Assistant Manager Living Crafts Centre
As one of the first smiling faces you will see when arriving at our Living Crafts Centre, Bam has been with Ock Pop Tok since 2014 and takes care of managing our class bookings, reception and Mekong Villa guests. She holds two university degrees, in General Management and English, from the Luang Prabang University. Bam loves taking care of people and ensuring that all groups and visitors are catered to. In her free time you’ll find Bam spending time with her two children, practicing volleyball or singing along to the Titanic soundtrack at home.
If you’re coming by our Living Crafts Centre for a course or free tour, you will most likely interact with Sengchan at some point during your visit. Her warm energy and love for Lao textiles adds to the experience of visiting Ock Pop Tok! She began working here in 2004. Sengchan is truly a company ambassador and has been an essential pillar in establishing new programs. She initiated the Fibre2Fabric Heritage Textile Collection and has since curated and collected over 1,000 unique pieces. When she’s not curating or leading classes (her personal favorite is the dyeing class) you can find Sengchan spending time with her two boys or in her flower garden.
Silk Road Café
Head Chef at Silk Road Café
Having originally started working at Ock Pop Tok in 2003 as a weaver, Chef Keo began by cooking for students when classes were booked. Everyone loved her food! When the Silk Road Café opened in 2005, she was a natural fit to take over the role as Head Chef. She enjoys teaching and training her staff about the nutritional value in food. Her former nursing training made her well aware of the benefits of good nutrition. She makes sure that the quality of food at the Silk Road Café is of the highest standard.
Her two sons are grown but Keo still loves being at home and cooking for family events. Giving alms at her local temple brings her much happiness. If you come by the Silk Road Café, Chef Keo insists that you try our Knap Paa Mekong Fish or the infamous Jeo-Bong chili dipping sauce!
Viengkhone (Moonoy) Kodpathoum
Viengkhone, known as Moonoy, has a background in marketing and communications and worked with a national newspaper prior to Ock Pop Tok. Originally from Pakse province, Moonoy moved to Luang Prabang after completing her two degrees in Education and Business Studies at Vientiane College. She was drawn here by her love for culture and textiles. She joined us as shop supervisor and is now Manager of the Retail staff. She has represented Ock Pop Tok as a textile ambassador traveling as far away as Japan, China, and the United States. She is appreciative of the opportunities Ock Pop Tok has given her to expand her management skills as well. When she’s not rearranging the retail shops, helping customers or traveling, you can find Moonoy cooking up a storm in the kitchen or crafting her own textile jewelry which she loves making for friends and family.
If you are ever shopping on one of our three stores, you will most likely see Feua’s smiling face! Feua has been part of the retail team since 2016. He loves meeting new people, interacting with different cultures and understanding the history of textiles. Feua is originally from the Long Mieng province which is 5 hours by bus from Luang Prabang. He moved to Luang Prabang to work in hospitality. If not in one of our stores, you’ll find Feua playing Rattan Ball with friends, being the star of the football game or jogging to keep fit!
If you’ve seen our brochures around Luang Prabang, this face may seem familiar to you! Som started working at Ock Pop Tok back in 2015, and her infectious positive energy is one that cannot be missed in our stores. She came to Luang Prabang to study English and originally wanted to become a teacher. She might still do that but for now she loves learning more about textiles. She learned from her mother back in the village how to weave some basic designs. Som is passionate about English and enjoys watching Hollywood movies, listening to English music and reading books! If she’s not singing and dancing with her friends, Som is dreaming of one day when she can travel to many different cities around the world!