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We have never had a more rewarding reason to travel than this

We were in Siem Reap, Cambodia. And we were on our way to open a school.

We left Siem Reap early in the morning for the longest drive through construction sites, potholes, twists and turns that kept us all on the edge of our seats.

But it wasn’t just the crazy road that had us all alert and excited. We had been looking forward to this day for months now. From the moment that we had agreed to join an NGO called Child’s Dream in building a school for over 350 children.

With our school supplies and goodies that we had gathered for the school at the back of our minivan taxi, and our bellies full with delicious Cambodian food, we did not expect to see all of these children, plus their parents, village elders and military personnel waiting for us when we arrived.

And yet they were all there, ready to overwhelm us with their love and gratitude.

The school had prepared an opening ceremony which was blessed by Buddhist monks to banish away any evil spirits from the area and bring luck and prosperity to each of the staff and pupils that would attend lessons there.

After the ceremony, the Minister of Education for the Battambang Province, a representative from the Child’s Dream organization and one of the donators that is very close to us addressed the audience of aspiring students, their parents and village supporters.

We were treated to a traditional Khmer dance that was accompanied by the beautiful singing of a young Cambodian woman whose voice still echoes in our ears today. After the dance, and still in a whirlwind of sensory overloading, we cut the ribbon and officially opened the school building to the public.

Once the ceremony was over, everything went very fast. Children made their way home, the Buddhist decorations were dismantled, new chairs and tables were put up and food and drinks were brought out for everyone to share around large round tables. There was laughing, dancing, and happiness all round as we imagined the future of the new school together with the community that would use it.

It is difficult to portray how we felt that day, and our highlight of the day was even more fulfilling: We handed over a backpack with school supplies to every single child watching how grateful and enthusiastic they were to learn holding on to the new backpack they have just received. The donation of these backpacks and the stationary supplies was made possible by you and your contribution. The collection of all small amounts that were rounded up for donation through your orders contributed to this gift. We realized once more how much of a difference a small gesture can make.


In telling you this, we would like to give you the warmest thanks for all of the help you sent through to us. And so, we want you to know how grateful we are for your support and loyalty to our mission to create sustainable fashion, because with your help, we were able to share the rewards of our hard work with people who deserve it. We are so proud to have such an amazing support base.

We are also eternally grateful to the Child’s Dream organization for all of their hard work and determination to create empowering spaces for marginalized and disadvantaged communities across Asia. Please go and check out their website to learn more about this organization which has built over 300 schools over the past 15 years.

We are still overwhelmed; our hearts are full of joy and pride. And we cannot thank everyone who was involved in this project enough. Together we can make the world a better place, think about it.

Brick by brick

Coming from the southern part of Germany we were taught one thing: “Work hard, work hard, build your own little house.” However, this wisdom seems to be twisted in northern Thailand – or have we misunderstood something? The wisdom in Germany should be terminologically correct: Work hard, work very hard and maybe work even a little bit harder to have enough money to be creditworthy to pay off the loan for the next 30 years that you need for the construction company that will build your dream of your home.

What is lost in the process? Time, you – and of course the fun.

We were looking for a more pragmatic approach and found what we were looking for. Our trip takes us to Mae Tang near the Mae Ngat Dam, about 2 hours north of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Jon Jandai (Phi Joe) founded the Eco Community Pun Pun about 20 years ago and is the pioneer in clay house construction in Thailand.

According to Phi (the Thai name for big brother) Joe, building a mud house is the easiest way to build a house, anyone can do it. Adults can do it, children can do it – you can do it! All you need is your body…and if we build a house in less than a year and for less than 10,000 USD, we have saved almost 29 years. How one wants to offset 29 years of life in Dollars is quite a difficult and philosophical question.

So let´s get started before we lose more time and build a new clay house for Nate and Phi Yao.

The place Nate and Phi Yao have chosen for their mud house is picturesque. Surrounded by rice fields and the southernmost foothills of the Himalayas, every sunrise and sunset are an experience. The natural swimming lake/water reservoir, which was built last year, create an indescribable ambience. Young and inquisitive people from over 20 countries have come to learn and help them build their new home.

At the beginning we stand in a huge mud hole (former rice field), whose contents are to be transformed into a single-family house. How can you do that? Very simple: mix clay, dried rice husks, sand and water and tread until it becomes soft. The creamy earth mass is then poured into moulds, set up for drying and needs to be observed. If there are large cracks when the bricks are sun-drying, there is too much clay in the material. If they burst into thousands of individual parts during the crushing test on the ground, the proportion of sand must be worked on. Local soil conditions are different all over the world and trial and error is the only way to success. That being said, at the end of our time we made more than 6,000 clay bricks and quickly got a good feeling for the perfect mixture.

Then, brick by brick, the walls are gradually build. A mortar made of clay, sand and a rice husk mix is used as a binding agent. The 5-meter-wide and 3-meter-high arches were also very interesting to build. First a wooden construction was made, which holds the clay bricks until they support and strengthen themselves by their own weight. A string and a nail for centering the arc and a few stones for adjusting the angle of the clay bricks are enough to build such a masterpiece. Of course, we are particularly proud of the last stone.

After almost two weeks, we managed to finish half of the house and learned how to mix plaster and clay paint from the above components. For practical reasons, not all elements of the house were built from natural and local materials. Experience has shown that termites in Thailand make it impossible to lay a loamy soil and foundation, or a durable roof construction made of wood. That is why we have used concrete for the foundation and metal for the roof construction. We at virblatt are thrilled to have learned this old way of building houses. It was an indescribable event to stand in our self-built natural walls, which continuously absorb and release water (humidity) and heat to have a pleasant room climate all year round. We are impressed by the possibility that everyone can build their own four walls from natural resources. And we are grateful to have met all the loving and interesting people during this workshop. It is indescribable what a close relationship you build with people and materials in a short time when you work together on such a valuable project: We built a house!

Life is easy!

think about it.


True story

We are often asked why some of our products are sold out. From the customer’s point of view, this may seem somewhat peculiar in a market economy. But there is a specific and important reason for this.

We work with small family businesses that lovingly make our alternative clothing at home or in a small community building. Some of our producers also belong to ethnic minorities of the Hmong, Lizu, Karen and Naga, who weave or embroider decorative elements in particular. These detailed processes take time. Errors can happen everywhere, but stress and time pressure in particular contribute to them.

Now you ask yourself, why not employ more people when the demand is there?

Admittedly, we have often asked ourselves the same question.

But there are two convincing reasons for this. On the one hand, people who are capable of this special craftsmanship are not to be found everywhere. On the other hand, we are in a seasonal business. Especially in summer we need more production capacities than in winter. If we employ more people in the summer, we cannot guarantee their jobs during winter. This would leave families with problems and challenges and employees could not rely on us. This is exactly what we avoid.

Our company currently consists of only eight employees, but we are not only responsible for these eight people and their families. No, also our suppliers, their employees, their families, even people who produce the fabrics depend to some extent on us. We also see our suppliers and their employees as our employees and virblatt family members for whom we are committed. That is why we focus on sustainable growth and identify ourselves with the Slow Fashion philosophy. Products manufactured with love, which give our customers pleasure for a long time.

Instead of putting pressure on our friends and suppliers, we have decided to give you, our customers and friends, more insights into our production. In the future you will find a label on each of our products that will tell you more about the wonderful people who made the product. This will be rounded of by interviews and videos. You may be curious. In addition, we are now increasingly posting when products that are often in demand are available again. This way you as our companions are always up to date and can get a specific garment you wished for.

We are by no means perfect and do not know whether this is the right way. But we owe it to ourselves, our families, like-minded people and in principle all people who live together with us on this wonderful earth, to give everything and every day to make our business more sustainable.

think about it.


Andreas Reich | Production Management | virblatt GmbH



The new virblatt magazine “Hammock”

Do you want to know who is in our hammock?

Get inspired by Elena and Matteo, who share their thoughts about a fascinating alternative lifestyle. Dive deeper into the diverse cultures of Southeast Asian hill tribes, discover the best places in and around Chiang Mai and meet the beautiful traveling soul Mali Pah.