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A Vat of Ink Inspired This Craft Ecommerce Company Lauren K. Lancy started her business after a colorful trip to Thailand.

By Ashlea Halpern

This story appears in the August 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Katherine Wolkoff
The Kindcraft’s Lauren K. Lancy eating it up.

My husband and I took an "Around the World in 80 Days" honeymoon in 2010. We visited 13 countries in Asia and Oceania, the Middle East, Europe and South America. Then I returned to my career as a freelance fashion designer in New York. But I felt changed.

When you go to design school, you imagine yourself draping fabric and sketching ideas, but the work I was doing for big brands wasn't hands-on. Mass-market American fashion is made overseas, which means you can come up with a color story, fabrics, prints and patterns, but the rest is text and emails with China. Back at work, I couldn't stop thinking about my visit to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi, where I saw intricate, ethnic traditional dress designs. They weren't made for the runway or sales; they were handcrafted by a community of women who pass down these garments and skills from generation to generation. It spoke to my heart.

In 2012, I began volunteering for a small ethnology museum in Luang Prabang, Laos -- but I was doing it from New York. A year later, my husband and I moved there. We were both freelancers who could work from anywhere, and I wanted to take a yearlong consultancy for the museum. I visited rural villages, and I took my first trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I stood over a vat of natural indigo dye and thought, This is magic. I have to tell this story. Chiang Mai had a lot of creative young people making contemporary art in a way that felt more organic than the artisan-style "maker movement" happening in Brooklyn, NY, and Portland, Ore. So in March 2014, we moved to Chiang Mai.

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