With the reintroduction of a flagship store at 85 Pasteur, District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Quilts is once again back on track with its commitment to providing sustainable fabric work to underprivileged artisans in Vietnam and Cambodia.
From visually stunning sets of bedroom quilts to smaller souvenirs such as papier mache and water hyacinth bags on glorious display, Mekong Quilts is looking forward to expanding its line of fashion wearables made with eco-friendly linen on the store’s 2nd level in the next few months.
A memorable journey through difficult times
From five physical shops in both Vietnam and Cambodia in early 2020 reduced to a focus on online sales during tough pandemic times by late that year, Mekong Quilts survived all odds through a close working relationship with Snap Cafe in Ho Chi Minh City’s foreigner-friendly Thảo Điền neighbourhood.
A small but effective pop-up store in Snap Cafe’s premises helped Mekong Quilts and its remaining artisans find customers that appreciate the beauty of handmade products.
In spite of the fact that Mekong Quilts is down to just 30 artisans compared to over a hundred before the pandemic, long-time designer Hồ Tiêu Đan explained that quilters receive at least €150 a month as a result of the social enterprise’s flexible work schedule—they no longer feel the need to seek odd employment for additional income while supporting their children and keeping them in school.
“This means a lot to [Mekong Quilts’] beneficiaries who are often single mothers,” she elaborates.
Mekong Quilts’ increasing shop-count as soon as possible
The levels of tourism still remains a fraction of pre-covid times, but 2023’s February to April travel season in Ho Chi Minh City has given Mekong Quilts’ team much needed boost, hope, and revitalisation.
“We are doing even better than last year’s Christmas season,” Đan added.
Visitors who stroll between the city’s colonial sights, such as the Opera House, War Remnant’s Museum and Independence Palace, are bound to pass by Mekong Quilts’ store which is located conveniently on the city’s heritage-rich Pasteur Street.
Having said this, the team is now ready to go beyond just one physical shop in Ho Chi Minh City—several past collaborators are working on a Mekong Quilts’ shop in Hanoi’s old quarters which founding director Bernard Kervyn believes will be a hit amongst travellers and hip locals.
“The new quilted jackets will be perfect for the northern Vietnamese climate!” he insists, emphasising how the beautiful handmade jackets featuring motifs inspired by the regional cultures, landscapes and traditional art of Vietnam were amongst the brand’s top sellers in 2022.
Beyond that, plans to reopen shops in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap remain a possibility despite the higher operational costs and highly season-dependent travel trends.
How you can help Mekong Quilts
In the meantime, Mekong Quilts only store on Pasteur Street plans to become a place where quilters can meet travellers and visitors to share their cultural experiences while doing minor work on smaller gifts.
For friends and customers who cannot travel to Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Quilts’ online store is an excellent place to browse its wide range of handcrafted souvenirs that are perfect for every member of the family, including the smaller and furrier individuals!
Every purchase at Mekong Quilts’ is a gift that gives twice—giving its recipient joy, while doing the same for the children of its nimble handed artisans who can now stay in school for complete education and a brighter future that lies ahead.