Trish Offers Us a Discount on Teal Lotus Outfits

Many of you may recall my good friend Trish, a stylish woman from Kansas City, who has visited us here in Thailand twice, most recently in November 2008.  The purpose of that visit was to put the pieces together for her new company, Teal Lotus.  Teal Lotus creates custom made 100% Thai silk woman’s wear in designs that are classic, timeless and flattering to women of all ages and body types.

The inspiration for her company came with Trish’s first visit to Thailand in 2006.  While here, Trish had some outfits custom made based on her own designs.  They turned out wonderfully and when she wore them, she received frequent compliments and inquiries about where she bought them.  Trish quickly spotted a business opportunity and set about creating Teal Lotus.

Part of that process included working with dressmakers here in Krungthep, refining designs and creating patterns that could be easily modified for each customer’s unique measurements.  One thing Trish insisted on: Teal Lotus garments would carry only one size – yours.

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Above: Trish, flanked by her assistant Bulan, discuss measurements with a local dressmaker.

In addition to negotiating with dressmakers and addressing production and logistics questions, Trish had to source the silk.  She was very particular about both the quality and the variety of colors she wanted.  We eventually located a factory that met her specifications in Nakhon Ratchasima province.  The owner walked us through the entire production process and was happy to let me take photos.

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Since returning home ten months ago, Trish set up her website, TealLotus.com, and started filling orders for customers.  While back in Kansas City this summer, I did a photo shoot for her to get pictures of several different outfits modeled by friends and family members, including my sister and grandmother.



The purpose of the shoot was so Trish could pull together an advertisement (pictured below) in a local Kansas City magazine.

 

While taking the pictures, I mentioned to Trish that when I originally wrote about her visit to Thailand last November, I received several inquiries from readers about the availability of Teal Lotus outfits.  Because of this interest, I asked Trish whether she would be willing to offer a promotional discount to readers of my blog.  Of course she said yes.

So, dear readers, here is my own form of economic stimulus, well-timed since the holidays (and all the parties that the holidays bring about) are coming soon.  Please feel free to visit Trish’s site at TealLotus.com.  If you see anything that you would like to order, please send me a message before you complete the order and I’ll be happy to share the code for a 20% discount with you.

Remember, each Teal Lotus garment is custom made to your exact measurements (or the exact measurements of the special lady for whom you are buying it), ensuring a flattering fit.  And each garment is made from 100% Thai silk, the most beautiful silk in the world.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

And Trish Heads Home

After twelve days in Khrungthep, Trish wrapped up her trip.  On her last night here, Trish had some unfinished business: a return trip to the Erawan Shrine.  A Brahman shrine located on the property of the Hyatt Erawan Hotel, the Erawan Shrine is a popular destination for visitors and Thais alike.

P1120106 The shrine’s reputation is for granting wishes.  You come and make offerings and say prayers to each of the four faces of the statue of Brahma.  As part of making a wish, you must state what price you are willing to pay if the wish comes true.  Traditionally, wishers will make some sacrifice or suffer a hardship. 

For example, before Tawn took his university entrance exams (in which he had to select which schools he would apply to), he promised that if his wish came true, he would walk all the way home from the shrine (a distance of about ten kilometers).  The most common price to pay is to return to the shrine and hire a troupe of classical Thai dancers to perform for Brahma.

On her first visit two years ago, Trish gave offerings to Brahma and made a wish.  Since her wish came true, she returned to the shrine and hired the dancers.  When faced with the dilemma of how many dancers to hire – four, six or eight – she went for the full troupe.

P1120145 Joining us was Biing, who was also on his final night in Khrungthep.  As coincidence would have it, both Biing and Trish were scheduled on the same flight to Taipei, although Biing was staying in Taipei for a few days as Trish continued back to the US.

Tawn was under the weather and couldn’t join us, but we had a nice dinner at the Jim Thompson Cafe located off Sathorn Road.

This is the same “Jim Thompson” as the silk company, which provided a fitting end to Trish’s trip as she spent a lot of time at the Jim Thompson shops looking at and purchasing silk.

We had an excellent dinner and probably ate too much.  Here’s a look at what we enjoyed:

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From the upper left, clockwise: Appetizers – chicken wrapped in fragrant pandan leaves, crab cakes with mango sauce; roasted duck in red curry, deep-fried shredded catfish with lemongrass and green mango, stir-fried beef with black pepper sauce, and Northern pork and chili dip with vegetables; Desserts – rice dumplings with candied fruit, lychee and orange with shredded green mango; Homemade coconut ice cream.

 

Friday morning before driving Trish and Biing to the airport, Trish modeled some of her finished clothes.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to shoot all of them, so she has promised to send me copies when she does her complete shoot in a month or so.

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Many people expressed interest in more information about Trish’s company.  As things get up and running, I will share those details with you.

 

So what’s next?  No sooner has one guest left than more arrive!  Sunday we had lunch with some of the usual suspects plus a trio of visitors from the US, friends of Markus and Stuart. 

We had a wedding on Friday night (more about that later), a get together with one of Tawn’s university classmates who is in town from Australia, and I’m busy getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner, which we’ll hold next Saturday. 

Whew – busy!

 

Try-ons

After our return from Buriram province, Trish had a fitting at the dressmakers’ shops.  I met up with her at the second shop, Ratchata.  Here are some pictures – you can click on them to see a larger version.

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All in all, Trish was pleased with their progress.  There were a few minor snafus – “Wasn’t this zipper supposed to go in the back?” – but all in all, she’s on track to pick up the dresses at the end of the week.

Afterwards, we took a trip to the Anantana Samakhom Throne Hall to see Treasures of the Kingdom V, an exhibit of extraordinary craftsmanship displaying various treasures created in honor of significant occasions such as the Queen’s 6th cycle (i.e. 72) birthday, the King’s 60th anniversary as monarch, and the King’s 80th birthday which was celebrated almost one year ago.

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These works of art were absolutely amazing, stunningly detailed and gilded beyond belief.  Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed.  Above, Trish poses in front of the throne hall, in which the exhibit is housed.

Twelve days with Trish come to an end Friday but there are a few more entries to share.  Stay tuned.

 

Dressmaking Discussions Part 2

Trish’s dressmaking adventure enjoyed a second very productive day on Monday.  She managed to meet with two dressmakers, one of whom she’s used before, and visited several sources for Thai silks.

Working with Bulan, her pink-spectacled assistant, Trish spent about two hours with each dressmaker, reviewing (and in some cases, redrawing) designs and discussing fits, measurements and fabrics.

After a morning at work, I caught up with Trish at Ratchata Designs, a cozy studio located just a short walk down Sukhumvit Soi 35 on the second floor of an old shop house.

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Above: Trish, flanked by Bulan, talk measurements with Tui, owner of Ratchata Designs. 

Trish and Tui determined that for accurate fitting, Trish’s customers will need to provide a total of fifteen different measurements.  This will provide a much more customized fit, one that allows women of all different sizes to enjoy the designs.

So that clear instructions can be provided to customers, Trish asked me to take photos of all the measurements.  I won’t share all fifteen with you, but here’s an example:

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When I left them, Trish and Bulan were on their way to Shinawatra Fabrics, a company known for its Northern Thai silk.  If the name sounds familiar, that’s because it is owned by the family of the former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in September 2006’s bloodless coup.

I returned home to prepare some food for dinner.  On the menu: a curried Doi Kham butternut squash soup with ginger and coconut milk , baked chicken breasts stuffed with herbed chevre, a mixed green salad with organic avocado and peppers, and a homemade loaf of whole wheat buttermilk oatmeal bread.  A bottle of 2004 Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz – Mourvedre was a wonderful accompaniment to the meal.

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Upper left: Despite following the recipe, it seems there may be a bit too much yeast.  Or maybe the yeast is just super-active.  Upper right: The end result is a very full loaf.  Lower left and right: Doi Kham butternut squash before and after.
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Above: Our table is set as Tawn and Trish pose before digging in.

Thanks to all of you who have left messages of support and encouragement for Trish.  I have passed them along and she’s thrilled (and just a little bit nervous) to know there is an audience.

 

Dressmaking Discussions

Despite her early morning arrival, Trish was ready to meet by late morning.  Tawn and I picked her up from the Windsor Hotel (conveniently located and very comfortable on Sukhumvit Soi 20) and headed to lunch.

scan0129 Over a nearly three-hour lunch we poured through all of the outfit designs, reviewing notes and suggestions Tawn and I had received during our “pre-visit” visits with the dressmakers.  This needs to be in two-ply.  How is that strap meant to be cut? Is this meant to flow from the hips or start tapering before?  And other questions and comments like that.

Right: One of the fifteen different outfit designs that we are working with.

We had time in the afternoon to visit the Jim Thompson factory outlet.  Jim Thompson is one of the big names in Thai silk and their factory outlet on Sukhumvit 93 has a huge range of colors, patterns and textures available at a very reasonable price.  The problem is, since it is the outlet, they don’t have everything and they won’t necessarily have it in stock in the future.

With Trish’s business model, she wants to be able to offer outfits in a wide range of colors.  But of course that range needs to be consistently available and accurately represented on the computer (this is an e-business).  So we will need to investigate other fabric sources to ensure a more consistent supply.

Late afternoon we met up with Bulan, a former student and former employee of Stuart’s, who has agreed to work as Trish’s assistant the next few days to get her to all her appointments, take her to all the fabric shops and the wholesale district, and to translate and negotiate along the way.

Tawn and I would love to play this role, but we have our jobs to attend to.  We’ll check in regularly, though, and sit down over dinner each night to answer questions and help brainstorm the next steps.

 

 

Pat’s Back

Trish arrived last night at 2:00.  Thankfully, I was able to get several hours of sleep before going to the airport and then several more upon my return.  When it comes to sleep, I’m not sure if two halves equal a whole or not, but that’s what I have to work with today.

DSCF1737Trish (she was “Patricia” before but has done a bit of midlife reinvention – good for her) is back after her first visit two years ago.

Right: Trish at Wat Yai in Ayhutthaya in November 2006.

A friend and former professional colleague of Albert’s, we were introduced in 1999 when Albert and I attended my sister’s wedding in Kansas City.  Family housing was full, so Trish offered us guest rooms at her house, which was nearby. 

Since then she has become a close friend of the family, someone who is always a pleasure to have at birthday parties and holiday gatherings.

A widow with two post-university children, Trish has a taste for style and fashion.  While she was here two years ago, she had several outfits custom made from Thai silk, based on her own designs.  She received so many compliments that she has decided to start her own online business, selling dresses made to order from Thai silk. 

The designs are varied and I’ll share more of them this week, but many are geared towards mothers of the bride/groom, or women of a certain age who are brides themselves.  Designs that flatter the women who look more like society as a whole, rather than the unfed supermodels that we see airbrushed on the covers of Vogue.

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Above, Trish goes through a final fitting on one of her outfits while Tawn’s mother, Nui, looks on.

(Have to give kudos to jojobaDESIGNS who shared a lot of useful information about online retailing.  Check out her beautiful jewelry designs.) 

Trish chose a great time to visit.  The weather has been cool and breezy, the rain seems to be letting up a little, and not only will she be here for my birthday but also for Loy Khrathong.

Over the next few days, I’ll provide more details about Trish’s visit and the dress-making adventures.  That should be interesting.  Also, there’s some news on the home front: we may finally buy a television after living nearly a year without one.