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SOARÉ – a woven place mat that makes a difference

Our vision “to create a better everyday life for the many people” extends to our co-workers and customers, but also to our suppliers and their communities. One way to put this into action is by creating products that have a purpose beyond business. Like this simple place mat.

Weaving a future

SOARÉ is a beautiful rounded place mat, woven from the vibrantly green, sturdy and fast-growing water hyacinth that thrives in the Mekong River in Vietnam. The process of harvesting, drying and weaving the plant is important to the people living along the river banks. It keeps the waterway passable, it preserves handicraft tradition, and it earns the weavers extra money.

“One woman told us that thanks to SOARÉ her daughter is now training to become a teacher.”

Lillemor Franzén
SOARÉ team, IKEA of Sweden.

Visiting Vietnam to get the full view

When SOARÉ became a popular product, supplies couldn’t cope with the demand. So, we thought it was time to change something in the production, or maybe replace it with a machine-made alternative. But before we decided, we wanted to go to Vietnam and look at the whole manufacturing process.

Women working together

The IKEA SOARÉ team visited the weavers, listened to their stories and took part in their daily lives. The workers – mostly women – gather in different homes to weave together and have the freedom to decide how much and how often to work. They chat, keep an eye on the farms and look after their kids.

“We’re so glad we went, because we saw how SOARÉ is having a positive impact on the people making it.”

Lillemor Franzén
SOARÉ team, IKEA of Sweden

Doing good while doing good business

Visiting Vietnam and meeting the weavers gave the IKEA team a fresh perspective. They arrived thinking largely in terms of costs and business, but left feeling emotionally connected to the people and product.

Scaling up to meet customer demand

Hand-woven natural fibre place mats have proved popular with customers. So much so that our Vietnamese suppliers have been unable to keep up. To make sure more tables around the world can enjoy these products we have now started production in India.

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