Sea & Grass

by Emily Jaime
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.

We had the honor of using Sea & Grass bags in our FW17-18 Campaign Chaleur, Crimson, and Nouvelle Fleur. I personally loved them so much I had to get to know Kim & Pam a little more and the story behind their brand. The more I talked to them, the more I felt that the world needed to know more about them as well.

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.

Kim: Sea & Grass is based on the foundation of kindness and generosity. It’s about taking the time to think about where your purchases come from and who made them before they became yours. I think when you take that approach, you become more appreciative of what you have, and more conscious of what you choose to own.

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.

Pam: This is definitely our biggest challenge. Because our artisans are considered independent workers, they get to choose how much time they want to put into production. For some artisans, this is a full-time job while for others it’s a side job from rice farming. This makes it difficult for us to forecast production timelines as we aren’t able to set hard deadlines. We are consistently trying to find new locations to source, people to employ, along with providing additional benefits to our artisans.

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.

Pam: The goal of our company is not only to make profit but to also help the community that we grew up in for many years. While Kim and I have been lucky to receive a great education and live comfortable lives, a big portion of the community living in Thailand have not. Therefore, it is important for us to employ these women instead of mass produce our products elsewhere.

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.

Kim: “Be flexible.” Even in such a short time, we’ve had to adapt and modify in ways we probably couldn’t even imagine when this first started. But overall, I feel like we’ve walked into this with an open mind and open heart, knowing full well that we have a lot to learn. I think when you embrace your experiences and trust the process, you become so much more willing to accept what comes your way.

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.

Pam: Our families keep us going. Setting an example as an independent, strong woman is the kind of role model I want to be for my daughters. My husband is extremely supportive and handles the financial side of the business. My mother is responsible for logistics from Thailand. And Kim. She’s my best friend and I truly believe that we complement each other in ways that make this business successful.

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: What Nolan Bushnell has said really speaks to me -- “The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

Kim and Pam

Founders of Sea & Grass

You can find more information about them and shop their products on:

Fashion photography by Casey Liu
Model Officially Quigley

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