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Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by supporting artisans, their craft and reading their stories​

As we reach the end of May, a month to celebrate the Asian American Pacific Islander community, we are highlighting inspiring artisans with origins from Asian countries, celebrating their work and culture. This month is a chance for us to celebrate the diversity of the Asian diaspora and to uplift those in the AAPI community and beyond, all year round but, especially this month. At Upworthy, we are lucky to have an incredibly diverse team and we are honoured to share some personal stories by the creators and their collections at our store, where purchasing beautiful products directly goes towards supporting these artisans.


Matta Nandrakwang's Story

"My name is Matta Nandrakwang, I was born and raised in Chiang Rai, the northernmost province in Thailand next to the border with Myanmar (Burma). I grew up appreciating this naturally beautiful area, home to rich and diverse cultures as well as many ancient ethnic tribes. Since the area is rich with gems and the main activity was their trade, I began to learn and develop a passion for the various gemstones. I realized I had much to learn about gems and jewelry, and decided to enroll in gemology school. There I learned all about gems and jewelry making. I learned on my own about bead-making. This passion is still with me after many years. I have opened my own studio now, and I derive great joy from sharing my enthusiasm and knowledge of gems and jewelry with my visitors." - Matta Nandrakwang

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Ying and Joy's Story

"Hello! We are Ying and Joy, co-founders of a small clothing workshop in Chiang Mai. We create woven, knitted, hand-embroidered, and dyed garments. We were born and raised in Chiang Mai. We studied and worked here and were friends since working together at a clothing company. Our new chapter began with an unexpected change, but we turned crisis into opportunity in order to build our new home where our friends and family could live together. After the company closed, a group of women with different skills in our old factory had to return to their homes located in different parts of Chiang Mai. Some of them went back to longan farming. Most of them were over 40, so it was hard to find other garment factories to work in. Our project was the best way to help them. We used our contacts from our old company and started to develop our own pieces. Ying comes up with designs and marketing strategies. Joy performs quality control, exports, and contacts the leader of each women's group. Our designs are inspired by love, nature, positive thoughts, happiness, our experiences, love, and passion. We hope you will love them." - Ying and Joy

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Danai Leosawathiphong's Story

"My name is Danai Leosawathiphong. I was born March 20, 1949 in northern Thailand. My grandfather was a Chinese immigrant from the Canton province. He emigrated to Thailand at the end of the 19th century when he was in his early twenties. He was a very hard working person trading goods all along the river and during that time he met my partner's grandfather. In 1976, Ilkay and I came back to Thailand. Originally my family and partner's family planned to get into mining. And in order to analyze the rocks, ores and minerals, we needed to set up a lab. Then my partner's father suggested that we could also use the lab to create something representative of the area, and we came up with the idea of covering natural products such as exotic flowers and plants with gold. Well, the easiest way was to experiment with copper. I think our creations have a lot of potential." - Danai Leosawathiphong

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www.novica.com

Wayan Buana's Story

"My name is I Wayan Buana. I was born in Sukawati, Bali in 1974. My father was a civil servant while my mother was a food seller. I'm the oldest child of four children. I remember my childhood was so happy. My parents really loved and took care of their children well. Because our family's economic condition was so limited, I worked after school so I could pay the school fees of my siblings, and also help my parents. In Sukawati, most of the villagers are wood carvers, silversmiths and clothing sellers. It's also famous because of its rich culture and arts. For those who are looking for inspiration, you can find tons of ideas amid Bali's tranquil atmosphere and beautiful scenery.

My enthusiasm for silver jewelry crafting started when I was still in the 6th grade. The father of well-known featured artisan Komang Wijayana was the one who taught me. Once I was around 15, I was finally able to create jewelry by myself and help out with orders from clients. Another thing I love about making silver jewelry is because I can also preserve my ancestral culture. Most of my designs are influenced by Balinese traditions, and also the beauty of nature on the island.

When I received an award as your best-selling artisan in Bali, that motivated me to make even better jewelry. Since joining you in 2006, a lot has changed in my life. I now own a house where my family and I live, and this has been completely life-changing. One thing I can do to repay this is to give you my very best work." - Wayan Buana

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Thatsanee and Ramphan's Story

Thatsanee and Ramphan are two Thai artisans who have formed a very profitable alliance. Thatsanee, the business savvy woman behind this operation is very outgoing and engages easily in a conversation about her passion for celadon. Her background is in banking and management, but her heart fell for celadon production. She began a small celadon production business with a partner and has flourished for more than three decades. The fruits of her passion are now well evident.

Ramphan, quiet and reserved, is Chiangmai Celadons’ best artisan. Not only does her friendship with Thatsanee span many years, their unique skillsets produce exquisite products that span generations of Thai art and decoration. Ramphan started out as a student with a burning desire to learn more and the drive to constantly advance her skills. Today her unique “story-telling” style shows her exquisite attention to fine detail. After watching her work, I’m amazed at the concentration and attention required for the tiny, perfectly painted lines, swirls, and splashes to come together into fine Thai art.

From tableware to modern art, Thai celadon has made the leap into Thai Heritage Collections and art pieces. Thatsanee admits her products are no longer for everyday use but are specifically created to preserve the long-held techniques of the artisans and the culture of bygone Thai generations.

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www.novica.com

via Chewy

Adorable Dexter and his new chew toy. Thanks Chewy Claus.

True

Every holiday season, millions of kids send letters asking for everything from a new bike to a pony. Some even make altruistic requests such as peace on Earth or helping struggling families around the holidays.

But wouldn’t the holiday season be even more magical if our pets had their wishes granted, too? That’s why Chewy Claus is stepping up to spread holiday cheer to America’s pets.

Does your dog dream of a month’s supply of treats or chew toys? Would your cat love a new tree complete with a stylish condo? How about giving your betta fish some fresh decor that’ll really tie its tank together?

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Photo by Jeremy Wong on Unsplash

Teen raises $186,000 to help Walmart worker retire.

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Carpenter has been working at Walmart for 20 years, way beyond most people's retirement age just so that she can afford to continue to pay her mortgage. When 19-year-old Devan Bonagura saw the woman looking tired in the break room of the store, he posted a video to his TikTok of Carpenter with a text overlay that said, "Life shouldn't b this hard..." complete with a sad face emoji.

In the video, Carpenter is sitting at a small table looking down and appearing to be exhausted. The caption of the video reads ":/ I feel bad." Turns out, a lot of other people did too, and encouraged the teen to start a GoFundMe, which has since completed.

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Philadelphia is taking the city back to the past.

Remember when calling your parents, a tow truck or a friend when you were out and about meant digging in your pocket for a quarter to make a pay phone call? Well, a Philadelphia-based collective, PhilTel, is jumping into the past with a modern twist, by installing free-to-use pay phones throughout the city.

Of course, the pay phones that many of us grew up were removed from public places years ago. There no longer seemed to be a need for them when most people had a phone in their pocket or in their hand. But it's easy to forget that not everyone has or wants that luxury. For some people, staying that connected all the time can be too much and for others, it's simply financially impossible to own a cell phone.

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This article originally appeared on 07.22.21


As if a Canada goose named Arnold isn't endearing enough, his partner who came looking for him when he was injured is warming hearts and having us root for this sweet feathered couple.

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Think all cats are the same? These pictures prove they each have their own personality

Photographer Nils Jacobi shows how cats aren't nearly as aloof as one might think.

All images used with Nils Jacobi's permission. @furryfritz/Instagram

Catographer purrfectly captures cats' purrsonalities.

People often mistakingly attribute a singular personality to cats—usually the words "aloof" or "snobby" are used to describe them. At best, they might be given the "evil genius" label. But in actuality, no two cats are alike. Each has their own distinct ways of being, whether that’s silly, sophisticated, affectionate, downright diabolical or somewhere in between.

This photographer has the pictures to prove it.

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