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 this 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; 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 addition to all of this, 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 makes sure to take time to meditate and do yoga, to balance her mind and body, and of course spend time with her family.
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 enamoured with the intricate weavings and the women who produce them. Veo’s creativity attracted Jo like a magnet, who was looking for likeminded artists to collaborate with. Both women shared a love for the traditional hand loomed textiles and are committed to preserving and promoting these textiles to the rest of the world, which 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: alleviating poverty in rural areas. This has lead to numerous consultancies in Value Chain Analysis for Lao government projects, and currently employing over 400 artisans around Laos.
Jo has spoken at academic and museum conferences from Sydney to Washington D.C. about the work that Ock Pop Tok does. Most recently presenting at Tinkuy, an international Textiles Conference in Cusco, Peru, where she presented about Lao textiles entirely in Lao!
Now Jo oversees the creative and strategic development of of the company. If Jo isn’t running around getting her hands dirty for new creative ideas for the Cafés, stores or online presence, you’ll find her buzzing around town on her flashy yellow scooter, collecting unique earrings, or playing football on any field in Luang Prabang!
Meet The Teams…
Head of Finance & Human Resources
Originally from the big city of Manila, the Philippines, Helen was drawn to work for Ock Pop Tok because of it’s focus on womens 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, as she loves cooking, baking and sharing. 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, although originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico in the United States, Hilary lived abroad in Guatemala for 3 years setting up community based education programs with the Peace Corps and then began working with local artisans to market their crafts and handmade products to international buyers and resellers. Through this exposure, began to deepen her love and appreciation for all things handcrafted and locally sourced; her journey then brought her back home where she worked at the International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe, where she was able to network and meet the Ock Pop Tok Team. “I immediately loved their mission and values. They are leaders and trailblazers not only in the textile industry, but in many environmental issues here in Laos as well” So Hilary packed her bags and moved her life over, and 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 team. Now she leads the entire production and design team. Her highest priority is that her staff is happy and busy, so you will always find Lear planning ahead and making sure everyone has something to do! Lear loves that Ock Pop Tok is a company that supports women in particular here in Laos, allowing them to earn a livelihood for themselves and their families. She is a self-taught designer and uses Illustrator and Photoshop to interpret weavers’ ideas as well as reinvent traditional motifs to match modern designs for new pieces. As a mark of her achievements, Lear and 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 busy at work, she spends time with her 2 children, playing badminton, or dreaming of new textile designs.
Living Crafts Centre
Living Crafts Centre Manager
Born and raised in the western region of France, Quentin has jumped from a young musical career, playing guitar and bagpipes, to hotel and hospitality, to now managing the operations at the Ock Pop Tok Living Craft Centre here in Luang Prabang. You can usually find Quentin running around the Silk Road Cafés and handling all things “logistics” at the Crafts Centre. He really appreciates the fact that Ock Pop Tok is a company that recognizes wider environmental issues in the community, beyond the main mission of fair trade textile production. Some of these initiatives include reducing plastic waste (eliminating the use of plastic bottles and straws) and setting up recycling and composting stations around the Crafts Centre. If Quentin isn’t playing the bagpipes or working on his gardening, you can usually catch him on his signature tiger-stripped motorcycle around the city, you can’t miss him!
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 2 children, practicing volleyball from her school days and 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 Ock Pop Tok! She started working here in 2004. Sengchan is truly a company ambassador and has been an essential pillar in establishing new programs, most prominently with the Fibre 2 Fabric Heritage Textile Collection and has since curated and collected over 1,000 individual pieces, some of which are the last remaining of their kind. When she’s not curating or leading classes (her favourite being the dyeing class, because “you never know exactly how the colors are going to come out”) you can find Sengchan spending time with her 2 boys, or gardening in her flower patch at home.
Silk Road Café
Head Chef at Silk Road Café
Having originally started working at Ock Pop Tok in 2003 as a weaver, Chef Keo use to only cook sporadically for students when classes were booked – so when the Silk Road Café opened in 2005, she was a natural fit to take over the role as Head Chef. She loves being able to teach and train her staff about the nutritional value in food as she formally trained to be a nurse. She makes sure that the quality of food at the Silk Road Café is at it’s highest standard and that her team is educated about this as well.
While her two sons are already studying and working, Keo still loves being at home and cooking for family events; as well as giving alms at her local temple. 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!
Coming from the Chomphet district close to Luang Prabang, Phet is one of the newest members of the Ock Pop Tok team joining in October 2017. He is the head waiter at the Silk Road Café, Living Crafts Centre location. Coming from the restaurant industry and having studied Business and English, Phet loves working with international guests and together with his colleagues. If not serving at the Silk Road Café, you can find Phet playing right midfield on the sports pitch or spending time barbequing with his family across the Mekong. If you decide to drop by our Silk Road Café, Phet recommends you try the traditional Stuffed Lemongrass with chicken, our Knap Paa Mekong Fish, or the Sweet Mango Mousse!
Head Waiter at Heritage Garden
Originally coming from the Naxangvuey village province, Chanla moved to Luang Prabang and started working at Ock Pop Tok in 2011, as one of the oldest and most loyal staff members, Chanla is now Head Waiter at our Silk Road Café in the Heritage Garden. After being selected to participate in Service Seminars in Vientiane for Coffee making and Cocktail making, Chanla is also responsible for teaching and training all other waiters. He loves Ock Pop Tok for the work environment and his colleagues which have now turned into friends. In his free time you can find Chanla smashing it on the Badminton court, or playing football.
Viengkhone (Moonoy) Kodpathoum
Viengkhone, or as we all know her 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 up to Luang Prabang following her love for culture and textiles, after completing her 2 degrees in Education and Business Studies at Vientiane College. She joined as shop supervisor and since then has moved to become Manager of the Retail staff, even getting the oppourtunity to travel to Japan, China, and the United States to represent Ock Pop Tok as a textile ambassador at different conferences. She appreciates the vast opportunities Ock Pop Tok has given her to travel but also expand her management skills. When she’s not rearranging the retail shops or helping customers, you can find Moonoy cooking up a storm in the kitchen or crafting her own textile jewelry that 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, and loves meeting new people, interacting with different cultures and understanding the history of textiles.Feua is originally from the Long Mieng province, around 5 hours by bus from Luang Prabang. He moved to Luang Prabang to work in hospitality, which is where he was working before Ock Pop Tok. 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 bubbly 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 (which, she may still pursue, as she loves working with children!) But for now, she loves learning about textiles and even knows how to weave some basic cotton designs, having learnt from her mother back home. Som is passionate about English and loves 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 traveling to many different cities around the world!