Samorn Sanixay is a weaver and designer who originally came to Australia as a child refugee from Laos. To help reconnect with her Laotian roots, she developed Eastern Weft. As she describes it:
Eastern Weft is my life, it was established to support young women of ethnic minority hill tribes through weaving. Our purpose is to keep craft alive through our own interpretations by combining the different Laotian textile techniques with contemporary design.
We create everything from scratch and that would not be possible in Australia. The textiles are woven in Laos and sent to Australia.
Our homewares and accessories are handmade in Australia by artisans we have selected who become part of our story. The weavers have been with us from day one so Kaisy ( my business partner and head weaver in Laos) and it has been almost 9 years so we are like family. The weavers are the very best and to me they are irreplaceable!
Closer to her new home, Samorn also volunteers as a ‘big sister‘ for Global Sisters, a non profit organisation that supports Australian women to generate an income through one central online marketplace. Samorn tells the story:
When Mandy the Founder approached me about the idea of an organisation that helps (newly settled refugee) women to set up their own enterprises, I thought it was a great idea. Rather than telling women what they should be doing Global Sisters allows the women to pursue their own passions, for example jewellery making. She is then partnered with a professional mentor to support and guide her in all aspects of running a business. It is about women supporting women.
I feel that I have so much to give and share with the women because I can really relate to everything they have gone through. For me it’s also about creating a community that I want to be part of and to live in. Its not easy running an enterprise but I have always had tremendous support and I want to give that back.
Samorn is thus able to combine her work in Laos, supporting young weavers, with her life in Australia, which is home to many seeking a new life after fleeing persecution elsewhere. She shows that work for Australians in the region does not necessarily exclude their commitment to making things better at home.
And she makes beautiful woven scarves too!