My name is Bibi, and I run our family’s leather business, JooJoobs, with my husband, Kelly, and my father, Noi. We live just outside Chiang Mai, Thailand, which is a historic city and also a must-see tourist attraction. Our home borders a beautiful rice field, which makes for a relaxing, tranquil work environment.
I’ve been surrounded by the leather business for the majority of my life. My father Noi is a master leathersmith. Growing up, he worked so late that I often slept at his factory in Bangkok. After he retired and put the factory lifestyle behind him, our family settled in Chiang Mai.
Like many other workaholics around the globe, Noi continued working even through retirement. He kept making leather bags and wallets – more and more of them – and giving them to me to sell. I had my own job at the time, and so did Kelly, so selling these creations wasn’t exactly a welcome opportunity at first. Finally we decided to have a family meeting to discuss what to do with all the bags and wallets Noi was making. We divided up the responsibilities, came up with a marketing plan, and JooJoobs was born.
As our Etsy shop grew, we started getting more and more Convos and orders. Our current volume is so high that answering Convos from potential buyers is nearly my full-time job. As for the wallets, Noi makes most of those, though we do enlist stitching help from our extended family when we get really, really busy. Kelly is in charge of shipping orders and leading our marketing efforts.
Etsy has provided an amazing opportunity for our family – one that keeps our dreams alive and never stops surprising us. Because of Etsy, millions of potential customers are able to view our shop, while we focus on making quality products and providing the best customer service possible. We are looking forward to opening a new workshop where we can teach youngsters from our community how to work with leather (and also some English!). Our shop is just over a year old, but the future seems very bright.
All photographs by JooJoobs.