How to Donate:
We will release batches of bags every mid-month starting January 15, 2024. The amount of sewn totes will depend on the number of rice bags donated each month.
If you have any rice bags that you would like to donate to us, please feel free to send it to:
PO Box 161
Pasadena, CA 91102
If you have rice bags and would like to request a customized bag(s) using those bags, please send those to our PO Box in addition to your IG handle, the size you would like and strap color (red or black). Once items have been received, we will reach out via IG to do a final review and request payments via Venmo/Zelle. All bags will be sewn with a flap pocket inside.
Sizes, number of bags and cost (to account for shipping) to sew each customized bag:
Small (1 large 50 lbs rice bag): average 18 x 6.25 x 11.5" - $30
Medium (1 large 50 lbs rice bag): average 14 x 4.5 x 16" - $40
Large (2 large 50 lbs rice bags): average 16.75 x 9.75 x 17.5" - $50
NOTE 2: We cannot purchase specific rice just for the rice tote bag of choice. Unless you have that bag and would like to upcycle it, please feel free to send them to us!
This is a dad-exclusive project. I'm just helping him collect bags and market his talents ;)
In December 2023, my dad suddenly gave me this huge tote made of rice bags (large and sturdy enough to fit two loads of laundry). I asked where he got the idea from. He noticed that the material for rice bags and reusable bags were similar, so he decided to try with a simple bag pattern. Impressed by my dad's creativity, I posted that tote on my Instagram and TikTok. I particularly made a video showcasing that bag on TikTok, which gained over 10,700 views, over 900 likes and many people asking whether or not my dad was selling more bags. A day later, I showed him the amount of traction it received, giving my dad the utmost confidence in continuing his passion, this time to the greater public.
When my dad and I were discussing prices for his bags, I told him to no longer consider just the product itself. He was used to getting paid by the number of pieces he was able to create, rather than also incorporating the skill and time utilized to finish that product. With these bags, he wanted to maintain the goal of upcycling and to keep it at a reasonable and affordable price. He also wanted to make sure there was one thing included with each bag: the word “Thai”. Thai hom mali jasmine rice has been a staple in many households and integral to Thai culture/cuisine. His vision aligns so closely with mine on wanting to highlight all things Thai, especially as a form of education and representation.
My family's journey:
My parents moved from Thailand to Los Angeles, California, United States in the early 1990s in hopes of pursuing the American Dream (aka finding higher paid jobs, living a more comfortable lifestyle, etc). They left their jobs (my dad was an electrical engineer and my mom was an accountant) with hopes that they would be able to find something similar and with ease. So when they first arrived in Los Angeles, they were able to find other Thai community members who also wanted to pursue the American Dream. Unfortunately there were barriers they had to overcome over the next 20+ years: language, citizenship status. They had to find work some way, some how. They noticed that a large number of Thais who also immigrated from Thailand worked either in the sewing or food industry. My parents decided to do the former. For many years, they have worked as Sample Makers for clothing companies and often volunteer their time sewing different items for Thai temples around Southern California. They would also make me and fix my clothes and bags.
In addition to the shift in career and lifestyle adjustments, they had to navigate the stereotypes that surrounded this profession. Often, they felt looked down for their work as it was associated with lower class and status. In the earlier days, they advised me not to disclose their career with anyone because they felt embarrassed, and that they wish they can do something else to financially support me more. They continued to work with sewing machines to help pay for my education and living needs.
During times when there is no work needed to be done, my dad would sometimes brainstorm pattern and design ideas that he can make and give to my mom and I. Maybe I got my creativity from my dad? He would design jeans, tote bags, tablecloths, aprons. My dad said that sewing is not easy, and to get to a level of efficiency and understandings of materials with its complementary threads take a lot of time. With the increased number of interests and people sewing, he hopes that one day sewing would be seen as a creative profession that has no negative assumptions.
For this project, I want to be able to support him as much as he has supported me. I will not be taking any of the profits he would make from these bags, and he deserves it all if not more.
He purchased the machines, straps and tools himself, and all the bags used to make each of these bags are hand-cut and sewn by him.
To my parents: You're the best! I love you both <3