Mexicali owners Pete and Kim met Phadet over 20 years ago in the renowned Chatachuck Weekend Market, recognized as the busiest market in Thailand. We call Phadet the “king of patterns.” His unique, exotic prints of elephants, peacocks, and mandalas reflect the majestic nature and colorful culture of Thailand.
The first time that Pete and Kim met Phadet was in 1998. They were 8,000 miles and twelve time zones away from home. They had traded in their dollars for baht, exchanged snow for sunshine, and were on the hunt for groovy goods in the “Land of Smiles.” They didn’t speak more than a few words in Thai, but they spoke Smile fluently. Did we mention that they were with their three kids? At the impressionable ages of 7, 5, and 3, these blonde, bowl cut, tie dyed ducklings sawadee’d and smiled their way through the sea of stalls in amazement (sawadee khrup (m) / ka (f) - hello).
After wandering for hours amongst the thousands of vendors that sold everything from chickens to cosmetics, the tie dye family found themselves in front of a small stall exploding with colorful clothing. A friendly face smiled out at them, and that was when we first encountered the King of Patterns. Phadet invited the family in and cleared a space for them to sit amongst the piles of textiles. Smiles took care of the language barrier, and Phadet’s fair prices and honest expression took care of the rest. As Kim and Pete started to pull out samples and discuss designs using hand gestures and a calculator to communicate, the three kids fell asleep on piles of clothing, many of which would become Phadet’s first styles sent back to Mexicali stores in Maine.
Twenty years later, not a lot has changed. We still do business with Phadet every year, and he is still a source of calm amongst the chaos of the market. Smiles are still our main source of communication, although our technology now extends beyond calculators and into Whatsapp and emojis. Phadet’s honesty, integrity, and creativity are still reflected in his vibrant designs, fair prices, and the way he runs his family business. The only real difference is that Chauncey, Carly, and Caleb no longer take naps on stacks of clothing in his stall.
In Thailand, there’s a famous saying, “Same, Same, But Different.” We look forward to continuing our relationship with Phadet and how, over the next twenty years, our family businesses and our friendship will grow and change in a same, same, but different kind of way.