Handcrafted on the Mekong

by James

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We concluded our excursion on the Mekong with visits to many hard-working families that use local materials to produce a variety of handicrafts and home essentials. Echoing Nina’s combination of focus and creativity, these often women-led businesses demonstrated a relaxed spirit of entrepreneurial enthusiasm.

In fact, I later learned why it was common to see so much self-starting industriousness throughout my travels in Vietnam—95% of Vietnamese support capitalism, by far more than any other country (including the USA) surveyed by the Pew Research Center. With careful planning by our guide, we took to the canals and paths of Tân Phong island and nearby areas to meet as many of these women as we could.

 

Starting by sampan (flat bottomed small wooden boat), we cut through a lush section of Tân Phong to see the first shops before switching to bikes to complete our tour. Among the reed hat makers, tapioca-derived lacework artisans, hanging basket weavers, and others, my favorite was the ease with which a woman could carry on a casual conversation with Nina while also swiftly thatching a roof panel from nipa palm and the comradery among those selling beautiful baskets made from water hyacinth. While I didn’t bring home any thatch roofing, my daughters do now delight in having a sampan-shaped hyacinth basket to display geodes and other little travel treasures.

 

We also passed by many of the larger businesses along the main tributary of the Mekong. Sunday morning activity was light, but the size and number of the operations displayed the productivity of the region. The most notable buildings to any river traveler are the beehive-shaped earthen kilns rising dozens of feet above the banks of the river. Fed by massive baskets of rice hulls, these ovens typically dry bricks but also the pottery commonly seen throughout Saigon and further afield.

 

As our guide directs our boat to Vinh Long for the shuttle back to Saigon, we take with us an increased appreciation for the favors, sights, and people of the Mekong Delta. Seeing Nina’s team produce her stunning vision of the Mekong collection reminds me that Saigon is reflection of its place in the Mekong Delta.

 

 

Nina Nguyen Designs - Pink Topaz Necklaces

October – Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness - Nina Nguyen Designs

October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month

 

October is breast cancer awareness month.  At first glance this might not be considered a positive topic of conversation, but we encourage you to think again. In the 1950s the New York Times refused to place a breast cancer awareness ad in the paper as they wouldn’t print the word ‘breast’ and wanted to stay away from negative words like ‘cancer’. It wasn’t until the 1970s where famous women like Shirley Temple and Betty Ford (the President’s wife) talked openly about their journey with this disease that the taboo and shame around this subject started to dissipate.

 

Betty Ford - Breast Cancer Awareness

Betty Ford – Breast Cancer Awareness Pioneer

 

Today you’ll most like see pink everywhere in support of this very important cause.  The National Breast Cancer Foundation provides free mammograms to those in need, provides funding for impactful research and even created a website for women with breast cancer.  Beyond The Shock is a website chock full of helpful information, answers questions and help women feel supported by their peers.

 

Breast Cancer Awareness - Nina Nguyen Designs

Cancer Society Breast Cancer Awareness Walk

 

There are tons of organizations that get involved with raising awareness for this noble cause and we’re so happy they do.  Breast cancer incidences have decreased steadily each year since 2000.  The number of deaths from this disease have decreased every year since 1989 as more and more women are saved by early detection found in a mammogram.

 

Nina Nguyen Designs - Pink Topaz Necklaces

October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month

 

What will you do this month to show your support?  At Nina Nguyen Designs we’ll be wearing pink all month long.  One in eight women in the United States is affected by breast cancer.  It’s a disease that affects us all.  Join us in the fight for a cure!

 

Breast Cancer Awareness - Celebrating Our Survivors

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer