SUSTAINABLE & CREATIVE: PHUKET ISLAND ENTERPRISES TO EMERGE FROM THE DOLDRUMS OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC
Updated: Jun 16, 2021
Who doesn’t love a lemons to lemonade story? As I raced around the island not long before the last set of restrictions came into effect, visiting various people & products of interest, it occurred to me how many cool, creative enterprises have emerged in Phuket as a result of the global pandemic. It also occurred to me that they all had three common characteristics: health & wellness, sustainability and 'supporting local'. Whether the covid catalyst was necessity, boredom or sheer resilience, it takes courage to start something new. We look below at some of the savvy Phuketians who followed their passion and brought to life these insightful initiatives:
Kat’s Creations started from a love of sending greeting cards and as most expats here will know, it’s a struggle to source such items locally. With extra time on her hands due to Covid, Kat decided to paint her own using watercolours and gifted them to friends. Interest grew from there and she now creates a variety of cards for all sorts of occasions: Birthdays, Father’s Day, Christmas and Congratulations, to name a few.
Most notably, Kat has created a collection of cards called ‘Love Waste’ using washed up bits of plastic and string found on her local beach at Nai Harn. In her own words, "I’ve turned something
that brings me joy into my little passion project!" To check out Kat’s collection visit her Instagram @kats_creations4u
LIT FROM WITHIN
When Kristen started her Reiki journey in June 2020, it was a pilgrimage of personal healing. She had issues with a leaky gut and intuitively knew that the medical community could only take her so far. With the added weight of a “pandemic” looming overhead, Kristen knew she needed to work on her own energy field. So she took a road less traveled and visited a Reiki practitioner.
During the healing process that followed, Kristen became passionate about Reiki and knew this was a gift to be both explored and shared. She says 'not only did I heal physically but I started noticing a spiritual transformation taking place, it was like a new zest for life had awoken within me'. Kristen is now a Certified Reiki Master with her own aptly named Reiki practice 'Lit from Within'. To find out more visit www.litfromwithinhealing.com
MARCO POLO TRADING
Marcopolo Trading Phuket was founded by longtime Chef, Gabriele Noe, originally from Venice. Having gestated the idea for some time, he suddenly found himself launching the business mid- lockdown in April last year. Thankfully, the quality & integrity of his product combined with exceptional customer service, has meant he is still here today - with a growing customer base.
Marcopolo works only alongside locally made products: with connections to many small scale producers from Phuket to Chiang Mai to Samui, they offer a variety of products such as cold cuts, pastas, cheeses and more. They are dedicated to the fast growing concept of 'zero kilometer products' from producer to table, which also ensures freshness & supports a sustainable food market. Marcopolo Trading offer exceptional value for what is essentially 'artisan' produce and furthermore, they deliver to your door. For a full list of products, visit www.marcopolo-trading.com
MEAT HOUSE TH
When the hotel they were working at closed due to Covid, Kristina knew this was her moment to work on the concept and recipes for Meat House TH. New on the market, Meat House TH produces rustically artisan style sausages. With a choice of over ten flavors, the sausages are made from fresh pork shoulder, bought locally & daily, with a healthy percentage of pork fat. Meathouse TH offers classics such the British Cumberland as well as unique flavors such as French Smoked Bacon and Japanese Teriyaki - all at very fair prices.
Kristina excitedly explains that they do not use any kind of chemicals or preservatives and all products are free of MSG, rice, grains or any kind of flour. They also use only high quality spices, such as European dry paprika for the Spanish Chorizo sausage. All sausages are roughly ground, not pre cooked and are ideal for the BBQ or oven, as healthier alternatives to frying. To find out more visit https://www.facebook.com/meathouse.th
Natural Jayd started as a hobby over three years ago when founder Jayne began to look at the labels of common personal care items and became concerned about all the listed chemicals and their effects on our health. She set a mission to systematically reduce additives and harmful substances in the everyday products she & her family used. As a consequence of Covid, Jayne found she suddenly had more time to test and research products. Her local community were an invaluable support as people requested she make specific products and even allowed Jayne to 'trade' with them - a great sustainable initiative on limited incomes.
Natural Jayd products are vegan friendly or have vegan options, all with a focus on sustainability: no packaging, minimal packaging or refillable. The rustic handmade soap and scrub bar collection has zero or upcycled packaging, no added chemicals, natural colors and natural essential oil fragrance. For details of the full range, including natural deodorants and skin balms, visit @naturaljayd on instagram or https://www.facebook.com/NaturalJayd
When COVID hit early last year, Tiya had been making custom hammocks for some time but with her fabric contacts in the North of Thailand and a sewing machine sitting at home, she decided it was time to expand the product range.
Using only 100% natural cotton, available in more than fifty colors, Tiyas' products are super soft and equally strong. She is now making custom soft furnishings, environmentally friendly shopping bags, purses and even tableware. Many of the items are used to replace plastic and paper such as shopping bags or fabric gift wrap as they can be reused many times. For branding purposes, she also has an embroidery service to add company logos to the products she creates. Check out some of her cool & colorful designs @phuket_fabric on instagram or https://www.facebook.com/phuketfabric
RIPPLE SURF SHOP
The Ripple team are a group of community minded friends who are passionate about everything ocean. The global pandemic crisis was a push for the team to be creative and think of new business ideas but it was also fuelled by the boom of surfing in Thailand, which coincidently started just as Covid hit. They initially started with the idea of helping source secondhand surfboards for those who couldn't afford to buy the new expensive ones, thereby reducing waste whilst also being a point of contact locally for those trying to sell their own boards. As they started to set up shop, the team quickly expanded their focus into being more of a complete surf shop where they endeavour to source & sell quality products that support other independent suppliers as well as be environmentally friendly. You can visit Ripple Surf Shop at their bricks & mortar store in Surin Beach or online at www.ripplesurfshop.com
SIMPLY WHOLESOME PHUKET
Simply Wholesome Phuket started out as a small food based cottage craft, which soon morphed into natural cleaning products, as demand was so high for these items. Most sought after were toilet cleaner, glass cleaner, floor cleaner and a pet friendly all-purpose surface cleaner. Founder Julie's mission was clear: to bring awareness to the general public about how easy it is to change your ways to more sustainable solutions. All ingredients are biodegradable but the real challenge was to find containers that were eco-friendly, which in this plastic driven world, is nearly impossible. The next best thing was reusable containers which were readily available, so Julie asked customers to simply bring in their empty plastic containers from toilet/floor cleaner, glass cleaner and they refilled them, sometimes over and over again. Not only are all Julie's products environmentally friendly, they are also a fraction of the price of their supermarket equivalents. To order contact Julie @ 089-868-2639
With three small children to look after, a guesthouse to build and a surf school to maintain (with no tourists on the island), founder of Tropical Pantry, Sam, put her thinking cap on hard and fast to launch the range just as Phuket emerged from the lockdown in June last year.
At the heart of Tropical Pantry, was the desire to make wholesome and nutritious 'feel good foods' that would be affordable even in tough times. As Sam says, "it's all handmade in our home kitchen so our hope is that when you eat something by TP, it tastes like your Mum or best friend made it for you, like there's love in it!" When creating the product range, they also wanted to include products the whole family might enjoy, so there's chutneys for Dad, granola for Mum, chia seed jam for the little people and chocolate peanut butter for, well....everyone. For more info visit @thetropicalpantry on Instagram or https://www.facebook.com/thetropicalpantry