By Pattarawadee Saengmanee
A committed tree-hugger, Kyoko Katsuraji is busy building a community where expat friends can share their eco-friendly ideas. In Thailand for the past eight years, she puts out a free Japanese-language magazine that lists restaurants and tourist attractions.
A few years while on a visit to Chiang Mai, Katsuraji met interior designer Miyuki Shimada, founder of Planeta Organica. The brand offers a full range of organic living products as well as clothes made from hand-woven cotton, hemp and silk. They two found they had much in common and decided to remain in contact.
Last year, Katsuraji opened shops in Chiang Mai and Bangkok offering a selection of Planeta Organica’s organic products. The Bangkok branch, which is on Sukhumvit Soi 49, is located on the ground flood of a white house and, in keeping with the eco-friendly theme, has plain wooden floors, shelves and furniture.
“I loved Miyuki’s ideas. I want to encourage her creativity. I opened my two shops to help her reach out to customers in Thailand,” says Katsuraji. “Her products are handmade, innovative and of extremely good quality.
Shimada, who learned about traditional weaving techniques from artisans in Sakon Nakhon province, founded Planeta Organica in 2001 initially selling handmade bedding and expanding to clothing and accessories a few years later.
Most of the products are exported to the Japanese market, where they are distributed in boutiques as well as department stores. Creative and eco-friendly, almost everything is made from organic cotton grown in Lampang and woven by artisans from many villages in the northern region. The dressmaking is the responsibility of a group of Chiang Mai villagers.
“My aim is to preserve traditional weaving techniques for the new generations,” says Shimada. “We don’t use any chemicals in our cotton field in Lampang and I guarantee that our hand-woven cotton is softer, longer lasting and good for the health too.”
All products are dyed using traditional techniques, with colours extracted from local flowers, leaves and bark. Clothes and linens are available in pink, brown, indigo, natural, grey and black. The store stocks pillowcases, blankets, bed sheets, bath towels, baby wash towels, body wash mittens and organic sanitary pads.
“Cotton sanitary pads are our best seller. They can be washed and save a lot of money. They’ve recently become very popular with young women,” says Katsuraji.
In the clothes corner, you’ll find dresses, coats, jackets, shirts, pants, scarves, tank tops, shorts, handbags, bag-in-bags, hangers and slippers. There’s even a collection for infants and toddlers.
Planeta Organica’s Chiang Mai branch is located at JJ Market.
SOFT TO THE TOUCH
>>> Planeta Organica is at 18/3 Sukhumvit Soi 49. It’s open daily except Thursday from 11am to 6.30pm. Call (02) 662 6694-5 or visit www.Planeta-Organica.com, Facebook/planetaorganica