"I then decided to create my own designs. I started by selecting fabrics. I found some 20 people who did sewing in their homes, some of them somewhat elderly. They encouraged me in many ways."
"My name is Boonju Odton and I was born and raised in Chiang Mai. My name means 'prosperous one.'
"I grew up in a woodcarving village, but I worked as a minibus driver. I drove for nine years, but then I had to have a hysterectomy. My husband wanted me to stop driving full time, so I drove a school bus. This gave me more free time, because the school bus ran only twice a day in the morning and evening five days a week. I wanted to earn extra money and began buying handbags crafted by an artisan in my village, which I sold around the city.
"I began traveling to government-sponsored expositions in other provinces, so my costs were low. I obtained more orders than when I sold on my own. I then decided to create my own designs. I started by selecting fabrics. I found some 20 people who did sewing in their homes, some of them somewhat elderly. They encouraged me in many ways. They said I made money for them even though they didn't leave their homes to work. They felt valuable and happy that they didn't need to interrupt their children's schedule.
"My handbags are usually small and made from 100 percent cotton. They are decorated with Thai motifs like elephants. These simple designs work well for everyday use and also make great gifts or souvenirs.
"When the economy was good, I got many orders from shops in Bangkok and Chang Mai and almost couldn't make my delivery deadlines!
"There aren't as many tourists here as there used to be, but I never give up. I try to find new customers because I enjoy my work and, if I were to quit, it would affect the people who help me.
"I began crafting handbags in 2002 and I'm still going. I hope you like them."