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A Biography


Carol Cassidy, founder and owner of Lao Textiles, has been working with textiles and fiber art for nearly three decades. She studied weaving in Norway and Finland and earned a BFA from the University of Michigan in 1980. She then worked as a fiber/textile expert for eight years in southern Africa.

  On a CARE project, she trained women in Lesotho to produce handspun mohair yarn, suitable for export. Later, on a rural development project for the United Nations, she applied her expertise to setting up sustainable cottage industries for women in rural Lesotho, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

In 1989, Carol moved to Southeast Asia to work as a weaving advisor on a UN weaving project in Vientiane, Laos. Shortly thereafter, she decided to establish her own textile business to preserve and continue the tradition of hand-weaving of silk in Laos. The government of the Lao PRD granted her permission to set up Lao Textiles in 1990. After years of working with rural silk farmers, she now relies on their steady production of domestic silk. The studio produces a broad range of hand-woven, silk textiles ranging from intricate brocade and tapestry wall hangings to ikat scarves and shawls to custom upholstery and curtain fabrics. She has lived in Vientiane with her husband and two children since 1989.


In 1995, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York hosted an exhibition of Carol’s work entitled “Beyond Tradition: Lao Textiles Revisited”. Lao Textiles was awarded the Product Excellence Award by UNESCO in 2001. Aid to Artisans honored Carol with their first Preservation of Craft award in 2002 for her efforts in preserving silk weaving in Laos. Carol continues to advise the UN and other development agencies on income-generating activities for rural women.

Over the past several years, she has worked closely with a group of weavers in Cambodia who are landmine survivors. Traveling widely, Carol teaches and lectures on weaving and small business management and shares her personal model of weaving success with weavers and artisans around the world.