Seagrass grows in abundance in Thailand and while villagers used to just cut and discard it, Pam Corbett saw an opportunity to maintain Thai weaving traditions and provide work for women making natural seagrass handbags. Although she was born and raised in California, Corbett lived in Thailand for nearly 20 years and became very familiar with the way of life for villagers in the northern part of the country.
Coupling her eye for design with the natural skill and knowledge that villagers had of seagrass, she began collaborating with artisans, many of whom were rice farmers who needed work during the off season. The result of that collaboration is Sea & Grass, a socially conscious brand that is repurposing natural materials to create sustainable seagrass handbags.
Many of the artisans are mothers who are now able to stay at home and weave. The seagrass grows wild in rivers and ravines, it is then harvested, laid out to dry in the sun and then either woven or braided on top of a mold. For many of the women, the handwoven techniques are passed down over generations and include intricate designs.
Perfect for a day at the beach or use as a summer tote, the bags have California style, with the added bonus of economically empowering women and providing education to the village children through the Areeya Scholarship Fund, named after Corbett’s daughter.