Sea & Grass
Pam is the founder of the company Sea & Grass, which is a handmade accessories company that puts its efforts in maintaining traditions and evoking the stories that lie behind the making of its products. She's known her business partner Kim since they were 10 years old and are like sisters. In a business sense they have different strengths, Kim is the voice of the brand while Pam manages the operations behind the brand. They are both just as equally passionate in representing the beauty of a handmade product, the stories behind their artisans, and the journey it makes to get from them to us. The reason I personally love Sea & Grass is because they are also based on the foundation of being ethically made and giving back.
How did Sea & Grass start, and what was your inspiration behind the brand?
Pam: The inspiration behind Sea & Grass came from living in Thailand for so many years and witnessing the struggle of day to day lives of people who live in rural areas. To help the community, Sea & Grass was born to preserve weaving techniques while adding an element of modern fashion. Not only do we help provide a living income for the artisans, but we also provide education to students in need in those villages through our “Areeya Scholarship Fund” program. This program is dear to us since both Kim and I have an educational background and view it as an important aspect in improving society.
Since your products are made by hand in remote villages, do you find it hard to keep up with production timelines, and how do you deal with this?
Kim: Timeline is one of our bigger challenges so far. As with any business, we want to keep our customers happy. At the same time, due to the nature of how our business works from start to finish, we do our best to be open about how we operate. We’re always trying to find more hands to employ, but as with any mastered skill it must be taught, and that alone takes time.
A lot of big fashion retailers out there exist solely to make profit. They bang out new styles every week, and sell them for 50% cheaper than smaller, ethically made brands could ever afford to. I know it’s taxing on my brand, YIREH, in so many ways, not being able to get garments out faster than these retailers, not being able to compete with pricing, and not on the same timeline whatsoever. However, we stick to our business model, and it seems that yours is similar. Why is this important to you, and why is it so important for you to employ these women?
Kim: Pam and I have lived and taught together in Thailand, and we know firsthand how man Thais, especially in rural areas, struggle to make ends meet. We knew we didn’t want to stand by merely as witnesses, but instead contribute and make an impact.
What is one piece of advice you wish someone had told you when you first started Sea & Grass?
Pam: One piece of advice that has stuck with me since we’ve started Sea & Grass is that you need to put in enormously before getting back. This is in terms of time, money, passion, effort, and determination.
You both seem to be extremely confident and strong women entrepreneurs. What keeps you going?
Kim: My family and my closest friends. My daughters are my greatest inspiration to work hard, be strong and set a good example in this world. My husband, that man is my rock. His support is unwavering. And of course, my parents. No matter how old I get, I still want to make them proud! And Pam, she wouldn’t be my best friend if I didn’t admire her as much as I do.
What is your favorite quote to leave as inspiration for all women out there wanting to start a business, or to just follow their dreams to keep going?
Pam: Just some personal advice from me to you -- The hardest step in business is starting. Don’t be afraid to fail because all successful entrepreneurs have failed sometime in their lives and the things you learn from those failures will make you stronger in the future. Be passionate, positive and never stop learning from the people around you.
Kim and Pam