It was Sam who read about Tohe online and she insisted that we must absolutely visit the store. I agreed, partly out of curiosity and partly to humor her. I didn’t expect to be impressed. But what I found at Tohe was beyond impressive.
The best description I can come up with? Cuteness overload.
But don’t let the cutesy design of the products fool you into thinking that Tohe is about crass and shallow commercialism. Far from it. A lifestyle shop that sells eco-friendly and beautifully designed products, Tohe uses images created by disadvantaged children and returns 5% of the profits to them as royalty.
I know because I sort of interviewed the ladies minding the store. That was after I asked permission to take photos so I could write about Tohe in the blog. The idea excited them and they were curious how we heard about Tohe. It was Sam, I told them, but Sam couldn’t remember exactly where she first read about Tohe. For sure it was online but on which site? She couldn’t recall.
And the products are beautifully-designed? Oh, yes! And when I say beautifully-designed, I mean images that grab your attention, and make you smile and feel that the world is full of sunshine.
It was the passport holders that first caught my eye. I knew — I just knew — that I was going to get one for my younger daughter, Alex.
Then, I saw the laptop cases. And I was itching to buy one for myself. But I couldn’t decide which. Was it going to be the one with the fanciful drawing of elephants ambling over a golden field?
Or the quilted one in various shades of blue?
In the end, I chose neither because we bought a lot of other things aside from the passport holder. Small notebooks, bags, a T-shirt… Had I bought a laptop case, I would have blown my budget for the trip and it was only our first day in Hanoi.
The really funny thing is that we’re going back to Tohe again before we fly back home to buy bamboo cutlery.
See, Sam is, well… When she goes out, she always brings a set of cutlery with her. She bought a set consisting of a spoon, fork, knife, chopsticks and drinking straw several months ago and she brings them everywhere. Her father is now convinced that we should all do the same especially while traveling.
When we made a video call to Speedy and Alex on the night of the day we were at Tohe, and showed them the stuff we bought and saw there, Sam convinced her father that the bamboo cutlery with the canvass pouch was definitely the way to go. Her father wanted something cheap but she countered with, “You wanna eat varnish? You wanna eat mold?” And the father finally replied, “Ok ok you pick for me.” She’s quite the sales person when she adores the product. So, yes, we are going back to Tohe for the bamboo cutlery.
What else does Tohe sell?
The clothing made from natural fibers. Cotton and linen. So comfortable and appropriate for the climate of Southeast Asia. Even if you’re just a visitor, surely, you want to wear clothing that will keep you cool.
And the bags. Oh, the bags! They were what drove mad with shopping lust.
And for lovers of fashion accessories, the jewelry at Tohe is gorgeous! And I don’t mean diamonds and pearls that your grandmother wears.
The fashion jewelry at Tohe are thoroughly modern and priced to be enjoyed by women who weren’t fortunate enough to be born with the proverbial silver spoon.
And then, the houseware products. Aprons, oven mittens, plates…
If you find yourself in Hanoi and thinking that there’s not much to buy save for knockoffs of branded shoes at the night market, pay Tohe a visit. There are two stores; the one we went to is at 14 Nhà Chung, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội.