Nera by Natipong: Taking Southern Thai Beads to the World

Nera by Natipong is inspired by the bead dresses used in Manorah dances.

Products range from small key chains, to handbags and home decorative items.

Each product tells a story of Thai culture.

Inspired by the southern Thai Manorah dance, Nera by Natipong is a vibrant accessories brand founded by Natipong Laisam. 

“I have had a passion for design since I was young,” says Laisam, 32. “My aunt, who formed a classical Manorah dance company, influenced me to see the design, beauty and delicacy of Thai culture.”

One of the signature elements of the Manorah dance is the colourful bead dresses worn by the dancers. Laisam’s idea was to turn those beads into wearable fashion items that are easy to match with anything. After making accessory designs part-time while a student, he started to design key chains made from beads.

“I showed my designs to friends and colleagues, who complimented them and gave me encouragement to take this seriously,” he says. So he decided to found the brand in 2013. Nera by Natipong started off with home decorations, such as small lamps made from beads, which Laisam sold on Facebook and at flea markets. 

“I received feedback and suggestions from client that I should do woman’s accessories too, so I started to design a bag, which also received positive feedback,” he says. 

According to Laisam, the main consideration when designing products made from beads is the weight. “Beads can weight a lot, so I started off with small items and tried to develop the material along the way. Each piece is unique in its own way,” he says. 

Most clients are Thai women in their 40s or older who love fashion, enjoy dressing up and are proud of Thai culture. “I want to create the best experience for my clients, and make sure they feel proud to wear or carry a Nera bag, so I work hard to make sure that each bag comes with exotic designs and tells the story of Thai culture,” he says. “I also take care of them post sale by taking their feedback seriously.” 

Laisam was giving the opportunity to take southern Thai bead culture to the international stage when invited to design and decorate part of Hard Rock Hotel in Maldives. 

“I think that was one of the best experiences to learn, and it was great to get the help from all the villagers who created the decorative pieces from thousands of beads,” he says. 

In the future, Laisam wants to be an educator on Thai design and culture. 

“I think Nera has the potential to be more than just a fashion brand,” he says. “I want to create value for Thai designs and pass it on to the next generation. Design is not something you can keep to yourself. It is something you should share.”

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Photo courtesy of Nera by Natipong.
Words by Ploylada Sirachadapong